Headset for Video Conferencing

As mentioned in my previous post, my old Labtec headset, which I’ve had since 2000, broke recently. So I have now replaced it, with a Plantronics MX-505 headset.

It’s interesting to note that this new headset is actually designed for mobile phones, which use a 2.5mm headset jack. I’m able to attach it to my computer via the Radio Shack headset / speaker switch I recently bought.

Now, the question you might wonder is, why did I go through the trouble of getting a phone headset, rather than just buying a regular PC headset. Well…

There were several different approaches I could have taken with this headset needing to be replaced. For one, I could have bought a high-end USB PC headset. The problem with these is, mainly, that they cost too much. At a minimum of $40, I just can’t justify that. Additionally, USB headsets sometimes conflict when used at the same time as a web cam. My primary use of a headset is for videoconferencing, so I didn’t want to take this risk — especially since it would be at a premium.

So I looked at regular PC headsets that plug into your sound card. There are lots out there, and at reasonable prices. However, every single one of them was big and bulky. They seems to be mostly designed for gaming / listening to music. In the time I have had my computer, not once have I used my headset for those purposes. I have only ever used it for VOIP or videoconferencing. I don’t need stereo sound, and I don’t want a big bulky headset that makes me look silly on camera. I considered those behind-the-head headsets briefly, but couldn’t find a set that were well reviewed — they all seemed to have a hard time fitting people correctly.

So, I had decided that I wanted a small, discrete headset, for under $30, that has good (but not necessarily amazing) sound quality. Plantronics makes a wireless PC headset that almost fits this bill — except it costs over $200. So, I started at this point to look at Bluetooth headsets. Bluetooth headsets are mostly designed for use with Bluetooth-enabled cell phones. But, for $20 you can get a Bluetooth adapter for your PC and, theoretically, use them on your computer. Bluetooth headsets are almost universally small and discrete. However, the more I read about them, the more I got the sense that lots of people seem to have problems trying to get them to work with PCs. There’s a fair population out there that are successful, but I don’t want a battle with my computer over a headset.

So I thought I had ruled out every possiblity (and probably at this point would have ended up buying a standard PC headset). However, I realized that there are lots of regular, wired, mobile phone headsets out there that are < $30, and are also inconspicuous. I was lucky to find the Radio Shack switch (apparently one of the only ways to make this sort of connection!). I did some research on Amazon, and managed to find this great little headset. I was leaning from the beginning towards buying a Plantronics headset, since I know they are a good brand. This particular headset was very well reviewed, so I gave it a shot.

I haven’t had it long, but the connection works flawlessly, and upon inital experiments, the sound quality is quite good, both the speaker and the microphone. And it’s a really nice looking headset, and doesn’t stand out on the webcam. Plus, it looks high-tech when you wear it. All good things! And, last but not least, I did something “interesting” with my computer, rather than taking the “easy” route. 🙂

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