New Phone Choices for Users of Microsoft VoIP

Apparently convinced that Microsoft’s Office Communicator 2007 and Office Communications Server 2007 Release 2 (officially announced this week) are heading for massive adoption, two high-profile headset vendors—Plantronics and GN Netron (through its Jabra brand)—yesterday debuted innovative new phones optimized for those Microsoft systems.

Plantronics launched two new products in its ‘Optimized for Microsoft Communicator’ line. (Communicator is Microsoft’s PC-based unified communications client application.)

According to Amy Huson, Plantronics’ director of UC product marketing, “Plantronics expects an increased adoption of unified communication applications as distributed workforces become more prevalent. We’ve developed these products to give IT decision makers and business users cost-effective and familiar options for those transitioning to PC telephony.”

The Plantronics .Audio 1100M USB is a wideband handset, designed to “provide the functionality of a familiar phone interface for businesses adopting PC telephony,” according to the company. The handset has a standard 10-key dialpad plus “call-answer” and “call end” keys. Additional features include speakerphone capability, visual ring indicator, ringer volume control, and a headset jack for those seeking hands-free operation.

Also hands-free is the new MCD 100 USB speakerphone, which will accommodate multiple participants in PC-based conference calls. The unit provides full 360-degree coverage, and, in support of high call quality, offers echo cancellation, noise suppression, and an equalizer algorithm.

The new Plantronics phones are available now through authorized Plantronics resellers. The .Audio M1100 USB has a list price of $79; the MCD 100, is listed at $179.

Jabra, best known for its innovative Bluetooth headsets, also announced a USB phone—the plug-and-play Jabra DIAL 520 OC—its first USB device to support Microsoft Office Communications Server Release 2.

“As a Microsoft Gold Certified Partner, we were able to work closely with Microsoft to create a product that not only takes advantage of the innovative features introduced in OCS Release 2,”said Chris Briglin, GN Netron’s vice president of business development, “but also offers portability and is the lowest priced handset available for Office Communications.”

The Jabra DIAL 520 OC can be plugged into an OCS system and used immediately; no drivers or other configuration steps are needed. And, as mentioned by Briglin, it can be unplugged and moved from one location to another.

Like the Plantronics USB unit, the Jabra DIAL 520 OC is a wideband or high-definition phone, offering the detailed, spacious sound quality already familiar to Skype users. Dedicated ‘answer,’ ‘end,’ and ‘mute’ buttons facilitate seamless integration with OCS 2007 Rel. 2, and an LCD screen displays all call details.

Jabra’s second product announcement is the M5390 USB for Office Communications, or M5390 USB OC, a Bluetooth headset that can pair both with mobile phones and with PC-based office communications. The unit features a wireless connection range of some 200 feet.

Both of the new Jabra offerings are available through GN Netron’s global network of authorized distributors and resellers. Pricing was not disclosed.

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