With its new Savi Office line of wireless desktop headsets, Plantronics looks to solve the last 10 feet of unified communications deployments, providing users with an easy way to blend and bridge the audio from both the PC and the desktop phone.
At its heart, Savi Office is just a wireless headset solution that can be simultaneously connected to a desk phone (via a handset cable) and the PC (via USB). Users can switch between audio sources simply by depressing a button on the wireless headset component. Tested to work with the major PC media players and softphones, a switch between communications channels automatically pauses media playback or answers incoming calls.
While this functionality is useful-analysts predict the consumption of rich media and the use of softphones in the enterprise will increase significantly over the next few years-the list price of $380 for Savi Office seems steep just to cut cable or headset clutter on workers' desks. Fortunately, Savi Office introduces a software layer that allows much more functionality.
Plantronics offers Savi Office in a couple form factors, both of which I got to try out during a recent prelaunch demonstration. The Savi Office Convertible (WO100) comes with a wide microphone and thin earpiece, while the over-the-ear (WO200) model has a wider earpiece and a more slender microphone. Both form factors work with the same base station, as the base station has a swappable, modular battery connector. Base stations can also be paired with more than one headset.
Savi Office devices come with the PerSono Suite, which can be used to control device behavior with supported telephony and media applications. It also gives the user power to bridge content between communication channels. When using PerSono, users can easily play back audio content from the PC to a caller on the desk phone, bridge calls between a softphone and the desk phone-allowing the user to basically host a conference between a land line and a VOIP (voice over IP) network like Skype-or easily record calls placed on the desk phone.
While I liked the flexibility for ad-hoc connections between communications channels that PerSono provides, I found the application took up too much screen space for the limited amount of function it provides. I would like to see Plantronics re-engineer the application to come as tool bar or as a plug-in for supported third-party partner applications.
Unfortunately, the PerSono Suite is only available for Microsoft Windows-based PCs, although Plantronics claims Apple Mac users will still be able to use Savi Offices devices as a headset. They just won't be able to control many behaviors of the Savi Office solution. Sadly, the battery indicator for the headset is only available as part of the PerSono Suite, not on the base station or headset.