Plantronics Audio 648 headset: I’m pretty impressed

Often I just want the decision made for me.

I don’t want to have to think.

I’ve been having problems with headsets for quite a while. Whenever anyone’s suggested a Skype call, I’ve either declined politely or accepted with grim awareness that the rubbish headset I’ve got will screw things up. A long time ago I paid £35 (or something like that) for a plastic Gigaware headset in Dixons. I think it was one of the Dixons Taxfree shops at London Heathrow. I was desperate, I needed to be able to use Skype when I was abroad and,… boom, these were the ONLY pair in stock at the time.

They do work.

Just, not very well.

Indeed, every 30-45 minutes, they would stop working. My audio would significantly distort at this point and then I’d start getting folk interrupting me during the call telling me they can’t hear me very well.

Eventually I realised that if I removed the Gigaware USB plug, then put it in again, everything would be fine. Which moved me to a rather ludicrous “I’ll be back in just a moment” interruption every 30-odd minutes, whenever I’m on a Skype call. Ridiculous I know. Just… it’s what you do, right? I haven’t had time to go and figure out a better option.

When I’ve asked around, no one seemed to have a definitive recommendation. No one could name a particular brand of headset. So I’ve just delayed the purchase.

Until last week. I finally gave in and invested a bit of time to find a decent headset.

The answer?

Well, I just went to and clicked on their Accessories page. I then clicked into Headsets and started shopping. Frankly I just looked for the most expensive one. I was pretty enamoured with the Everyman Freetalk Wireless but then I thought, “Do I actually need wireless?”

I decided no. So I looked around for some wired USB headsets…

I’ve known the Plantronics brand for quite a while. They have a good reputation as far as I am aware so I perused Skype’s offering in detail. My reasoning was simple: Skype know about headsets for VOIP. They’ll have reviewed a few of them and, you know, weeded out the dross.

I settled on the Platronics Audio 648 model because they were available via Amazon Prime immediately. I also liked the fact that they were Skype certified — again, I don’t want to have to think. They’re the behind-the-head style which suited me fine. I really didn’t care whether it was over-the-head or behind-the-head.

Oh and yes, sorry Skype. I didn’t want to take a chance with your online fulfilment services. I ordered via Amazon and the 648s arrived right-away. (My recent policy, the subject of another post, is to always buy through Amazon Prime where possible to avoid any exceptions whatsoever).

I’m pleased to say that I used the 648s in anger (i.e. properly) to record one of the 361 Degrees podcasts at the weekend. I’m delighted to report that they’re incredibly comfortable, the audio fidelity appears fantastic. They seem particularly good with voice. I have been listening to music with them as well, but that was *not* the primary use case — it’s all about voice. Ben and Rafe (my other podcasting buddies) sounded super-clear. And I didn’t have to remove the USB plug during the call either.

One negative: Getting into the packaging was a flipping arse. I’m embarrassed to point out that I actually cut one of my fingers opening it. I don’t know why folk don’t just make super-easy packaging nowadays. I was seriously annoyed but that experience. Thanks for that, Plantronics. You’d think those chaps would know how to manufacture some easy to open packaging, eh?


Just how good is the Nokia Lumia 800? Very good indeed!

I’ve been using the Nokia Lumia 800 for just over a week, full time now. It has temporarily replaced the BlackBerry Curve I normally use for business work (I also use a Bold 9900 and an iPhone).

I most certainly miss the physical keyboard of the BlackBerry, however I have to say that the Nokia Lumia 800 does appear business-ready. I’ve been able to hit the ground running — I’ve even managed to use the “I’m going to be late” function in the Windows Phone calendar.

I like the fact that when I reach for the Lumia, I can easily feel it. This might sound silly, but I can discern the identity of the device from the feel of it. In my pocket there’s usually another phone so being able to quickly find the one I want is rather important. The Lumia does feel gorgeous in the hand.

I used the British Airways app on the Lumia to fly from London Heathrow to Dusseldorf and found the experience flawless. What’s more, I felt good using the Lumia. It may not be Nokia’s absolute tip-top super-smartphone (I suspect the 800 dollar Lumia 1000 or something will be along soon) however it most certainly looks smart. Looks are important. There’s a reason I wear a particular suit, use a particular pen, carry a particular bag. They create a specific impression. The Lumia, I’m pleased to say, adds to this impression. It doesn’t detract. To be clear, a Nokia N97 did detract.


Hunting for some decent Skype headphones

These are the Plantronics Audio 648 headphones. I found them via the Skype site — and then I ordered them (as always) via Amazon Prime. Free next day delivery? Yes please. Plus, they were a tenner cheaper via Amazon than on Skype’s own e-commerce site.