Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Plantronics wireless headset works with almost any phone, or no phone at all

The Plantronics CS55H is a weird wireless headset.

When I first read its description, I was puzzled. Plantronics says it works with any ordinary single-line phone (corded or cordless). It's supposed to be able to answer and hang up remotely, but it doesn't use a remote handset lifter like other wireless headsets, and it doesn't connect to a phone's headset jack.

After some careful studying, I had my "AHA!" moment.

In actuality, the Plantronics CS55H (the "Home Edition" of the more office-oriented Plantronics CS55), doesn't connect to your phone. It works with your phone.

In actuality, the Plantronics CS55H is a self-contained, almost complete, wireless telephone that can answer calls and hang up at the end of a conversation, even if you don't even have another phone. If you want to make a call, you do have to dial from your regular phone; but as soon as you're through tapping the touch-tone buttons, you can go wireless.

You can walk while you talk, or type with both hands while you talk, or shuffle through stacks of papers while you talk, or make coffee or make lunch or feed your kids or answer the door or let the dog out or go get the newspaper or the mail...while you do business or schedule tennis or a furniture delivery.

Voice quality is so good, that you can sound like a fancy-pants high-powered executive, even if you work at home in your pajamas; or if you work in a real office and you use a single-line analog phone, even without a headset jack.

The new Plantronics CS55H Home Edition Wireless Headset System (Can you say that three times, fast, without stumbling?) works with single-line analog cordless or corded phones (see note at bottom). It combines the clarity of a traditional corded phone, with hands-free convenience, and wireless mobility.

You can move around (up to about 300 feet horizontally, and up or down two flights of stairs in our tests) without interrupting or missing a call.

The CS55H uses 1.9GHz “DECT” technology, developed to end interference to and from wireless networks. There won’t be any buzzing while you’re microwaving a burrito, either.

The noise-canceling microphone filters out unwanted noises. You’ll come through loud and clear to your friends, clients and colleagues, while eliminating the barking dog, your TV, the doorbell, crying babies, or your family’s babbling voices in the background. The long microphone boom puts the mic right near your mouth, to maximize your voice and minimize everything else. If you’re working at home, there’s no need for your boss to know that you’re watching Jerry Springer or Judge Judy or listening to Rush Limbaugh.

Voice quality, as with other recent Plantronics wireless headsets, is just plain perfect. When we did our test, however, grouchy Cousin Dave walked outside the building, and walked into a windstorm, and the microphone picked up a bit of whooshing noise.

There are two simple cures: (A) Don't talk outside in hurricanes or tornadoes; (B) If you absolutely must talk outside in a hurricane or tornado, stick a foam windscreen over the microphone, and use some strong rope to attach yourself to a utility pole or other hopefully immovable object.

The CS55H weighs almost nothing and is extremely comfortable, even for all-day use. It fits fine on either ear, with or without eyeglasses, and can be worn with its ear loop, or with the included headband if you want it to be more secure while you wander around.

Talk time is up to 10 hours after a battery charge, and it takes just three hours to charge. Easy controls on the headset allow you to just tap to answer or hang up, and you can also mute the microphone if you need to speak to someone near you without the person on the phone hearing you; or if you need to flush a toilet or yell at a kid. You can also raise and lower the receive volume remotely. Please keep in mind that you can answer and hang up remotely, by just tapping a headset button; but calls must be dialed from the phone. After dialing, you can walk away from the phone. If you don’t care about dialing, you don’t even need a phone – just the CS55H.

In addition to the hardware that goes on your head, you get a charger/stand that also includes the phone guts and some adjustable controls for fine-tuning, a small adapter pod that provides “hookswitch” control to enable picking up and hanging up, and a common 2-for-1 adapter so the CS55H and a phone can share a phone jack.

All in all, the Plantronics CS55H Home Edition Wireless Headset System is a great-sounding, easy-to-use, comfortable way to have 21st century mobility and multi-tasking, even if you use a dumb old 20th century phone. It's a great idea, and I recommend it highly. Available at

NOTE: I said that the Plantronics CS55H headset should be used with an analog phone. That means a phone that can connect to an ordinary analog phone line. The CS55H will also work fine with a cordless phone that uses digital radio transmission, or an analog phone connected to an analog port in a digital phone system, or to an analog phone used with VoIP service.


Anonymous said...

I have my CS55H hooked up to a Vonage VOIP line, no problems.

Anonymous said...

I bought one of these and it works great!

Andrew Wilder said...

I also have my CS55H hooked up to a Vonage VOIP Line--but I did have a problem. After I picked up the line on the headset, and then hit the "talk" button on my cordless phone (to hang up the handset, leaving just the headset active), I would get a loud, 1/2-second buzz on the line. Callers would hear it, too.

After much troubleshooting with Plantronics (who was responsive and helpful, though they didn't find the solution), and after getting a replacement CS55H, I finally added a DSL filter to the phone line. Voila! Problem solved.

So, if you're using the CS55H, and have a buzzing problem when you switch from your cordless phone handset, try adding a DSL line filter (even if you don't have DSL)!

Unknown said...

What phone system are you using for Vonage that works with CS55H? Please let me know.