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Plantronics Voyager 6200 UC, First Take: Flexible and feature-packed, but expensive

Voyager headsets from Plantronics are traditionally office-bound devices, but the Voyager 6200 UC can support work and leisure use cases thanks to its neat design, Bluetooth connectivity, well-made carry pouch and noise cancelling features. It even comes in two colours — black and ‘sand’. But is this versatile headset worth its £249.95 (inc. VAT, or $299.95) price tag?

The neckband is somewhat chunky, but it’s lightweight and a slightly rubberised finish stops it from sliding about. The earbuds are a secure fit, and you can move your head around normally without fear of pulling them out. The whole setup is one of the most comfortable headsets I’ve used.

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The Voyager 6200 UC has a 30-metre (98 foot) Bluetooth roaming range and claims up to 9 hours of talk time, or 16h of ‘listen’, from its 340mAh battery, which takes 90 minutes to charge.


Image: Sandra Vogel/ZDNet

Some headset buttons are difficult to work with because they’re hard to find by touch, but Plantronics has got things pretty well under control here. Buttons are both tactile and large, and are sensibly located on the band so there’s no need to fumble around for them. The multiple presses for different functions are not too complex to remember.

For example, controlling music playback relies on a single large rectangular button on the inside right of the front of the neckband. I found it easy to remember one press for pause/play, two presses for next track, three for previous track. This button also handles call management when held down. Volume buttons are on the upper right edge and protrude slightly, so are easily found by touch.

See: How we learned to talk to computers, and how they learned to answer back (cover story PDF)

The on/off button is a slider, and is used to effect Bluetooth pairing. It will also give a spoken reminder of how much talktime remains if pushed backwards, which is very useful.

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There’s a mute button on top of the left edge of the neckband. At the back, mirroring the right side location of the power/Bluetooth/battery-level control, is another slider that turns Active Noise Cancellation on or off.

Battery life is rated at 16 hours listen, 9 hours talk and 14 days on standby. During testing I was able to get through a week of taking and making calls without needing to recharge, although of course this will vary depending on use.

It takes 90 minutes to fully charge the headset, so regular users might set up a routine of putting the headset on charge for a short while at the start of every day. There’s a fairly neat, circular charge stand into which you can plug a Micro-USB cable; alternatively the same cable can be plugged directly into the headset.

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The Voyager 6200 UC package includes a case, a charger, a USB cable and a USB wi-fi dongle.


Image: Plantronics

The headset comes in a sizeable protective case that accommodates the neckband, charger and USB cable. It might be a bit much to drop into a weekend travel bag, but the protection it provides for a relatively expensive piece of kit is welcome.

The headset will pair with up to eight devices, and up to two at the same time — handy if, for example, you use a mobile phone and a softphone, or even two mobiles.

The claimed Bluetooth range of up to 30 metres, or 98 feet, worked out in practice: I could move to the next room with no trouble, for example, and lost connection at around the 30m mark. If you don’t have Bluetooth integrated on your laptop, you can use the USB dongle provided.

The omnidirectional microphones in the neckband did a good job, and no-one I spoke to complained about poor voice quality. The headset reminds you if you’re on mute when making a call, and vibrates when there’s an incoming call — even when the handset is on mute.

So far, so impressive, but the active noise cancelling was a bit hit-and-miss. I work in a quiet office, so I tested this with some random talk radio while taking some phone calls, and it didn’t really cancel enough of what was going outside my calls on to pass muster. When I tried it with some low-frequency noise — including a recording of the irritating hum of an airplane engine — it performed much better. But noise at that frequency isn’t prevalent in offices I work in.

Active noise cancelling takes a toll on battery life, so I tended to leave it switched off, which isn’t much of an endorsement for a key feature. Anyone looking for seriously good noise cancelling for the office might want to shop around.

Audio quality for music is OK but not wonderful. It’s fine for use on the commute, but those looking for seriously good music playback might be disappointed.

The Voyager 6200 UC is comfortable to wear and has ergonomically located, sensibly configured neckband controls. The little charge station is handy, and the carry case should prove useful. It’s just a pity that the noise cancelling is below par.

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