I had a wired telephone headset from Plantronics that I liked very much, but it eventually died. I replaced it with a Plantronics CS55 wireless headset, which works differently but still gets the job done. There are two different versions of the CS55: one for home use and one for professional office use. I have the version that's intended for offices where you have a traditional wired telephone on the desk. I understand that the home version of the Plantronics CS55 works without a traditional wired phone but I haven't confirmed this.
Recommend this product?
My employer paid for the Plantronics CS55 on my desk, but Amazon sells it for about $175. A package that includes the HL10 Handset Lifter costs around $260 on Amazon. More about the HL10 shortly.
What it is
The Plantronics CS55 (professional version) is a wireless headset intended to be used with standard desk telephone. It interconnects to the desk telephone with a couple of cables. The CS55 has a wireless headset that you wear on your head, with an earpiece that can be held in place with an ear loop or with a more traditional springy headband. Extending about five inches from the earpiece is a microphone boom that ends up being right next to the mouth.
The package came with a couple different ear loops and ear pads, as well as the headband. It also came with the base/charger, power supply, cable and all other necessary items to get up and running.
Plantronics thought about how people would use a wireless headset versus how they would use a wired headset. With a wired headset, you are always tethered to your phone. With a wireless headset, you can get up and move around, possibly stepping quite far from your desk. In this instance, how do you answer a phone call back at your desk? For this application, Plantronics came up with the optional HL10 Handset Lifter, which is used in conjunction with the CS55 to answer and hang up on phone calls. It does this by physically lifting the phone handset out of the cradle on the phone, then restoring it at the push of a button on the wireless headset. I did not get an HL10, so I can't comment on its quality or operation.
The base station itself stands about five inches tall and has a footprint of about four inches by four inches. The whole thing weighs less than half a pound. My overall impression of the Plantronics CS55's quality is good but not great. It doesn't feel fragile but it is not built like the proverbial tank, either.
The Plantronics CS55 uses frequencies in the 1920-1930 MHz range (1.9 GHz), which does not interfere with home WiFi networks or other cordless phones (most of which are in the 2.4 and 5.8 GHz bands). The CS55 also uses DECT (Digital Enhanced Cordless Telecommunications), which consists of five carriers in a spread-spectrum arrangement. This means that the unit should work clearly and not easily drop out, as long as I don't stray too far from the base station.
Sorry about the technical lingo... I'll try to keep it more consumer-friendly from now on.
Setting it up
Plantronics provided a reasonably well done manual that folds out into a big sheet. It was fairly easy to get the wall-wart style power supply connected and figure out how to attach the springy headset band to the one-piece earphone/microphone unit. Connecting up to the desk telephone is also easy if you have used headsets before. If this is your first headset, you will need two cables connecting the Plantronics CS55 to your desk phone: one that connects to your phone's curly handset cord and another that plugs in where the handset normally connects. It sounds complicated but it's not. If you understand electronic thingies, this should be no problem. Otherwise, read the manual -- carefully.
The headset is wireless, so it docks in a cradle on the front of the base station, where there are small pins to provide power for charging the headset's internal battery. (This battery is replaceable but it's not easily replaced.) Plantronics' specs say that the battery charges fully in three hours.
The base station for the Plantronics CS55 has several switches and controls that are used to control operation and volume levels. Then there are switches and controls on the headset as well, and figuring all these out is a little complicated. The best thing to do is to go over the manual section by section to make sure you understand what each control does. The good news is that, once you get it set up the way you like it, you won't need to adjust it again. However, having someone that you can call to check outgoing and incoming voice levels is really handy during the setup phase.
I use my Plantronics CS55 wireless headset exactly like I used my old Plantronics wired headset -- at my desk. I haven't wandered farther afield than the next cubicle, since I will need to manually answer and hang up on phone calls by taking the phone's handset on- and off-hook. However, with the way the Plantronics CS55 was set up out of the box, it was a two-step operation to answer a phone call: press a button on the headset and lift the phone's handset off-hook. After reading the manual some, I discovered that if I moved a switch on the base station, I could simply answer the call by lifting the phone's handset off-hook. This eliminated the extra step of pushing the botton.
Since there are several switches and controls on the base station, I'll tell you which one had to be switched for this one-step operation. As you look at the base station, this switch is on the right side. It's labeled with a single horizontal line (--) and two horizontal lines (==). I had to switch it from the -- postion to the == position.
It took a two-minute phone call with a cooperative person to check the audio levels and set the CS55 up so that both of us could hear each other properly. Once set up, I have not had to touch the controls in two weeks of operation.
Sound quality is good with a couple of reservations. My old wired headset had a fuller, deeper sound than the Plantronics CS55. I liked that deeper sound, although the CS55 is clear and easy to understand. Also, I don't hear myself with the CS55 as loudly as I prefer. (The ability to hear yourself on a phone is called "sidetone.") There may be a way to adjust the sidetone on the Plantronics CS55 but I haven't yet figured it out. As it is now, I wish the CS55 had more sidetone. People at the other end of phone calls say they can hear me loud and clear.
I enjoy not having wires with my headset but I could just as easily live with a wired headset. One feature I do use is microphone mute. If I need to cough or clear my throat, I like to mute the microphone to prevent making a lot of noise on the call. There is a convenient switch to mute the microphone on the CS55's headset and there is a blinking light on the base station to warn me that the mic is muted. Both those things are a nice and welcome touch.
I'm not on the phone all that much and seldom get more than two or three phone calls per day. So far, the Plantronics CS55 has had plenty of battery life to get me through my occasional phone calls. Others report that the CS55 lasts for hours, but I can't personally say that I've tested that.
As I said, I use the springy headband with the CS55 and it is very comfortable. I could wear it for hours without discomfort and it is literally light as a feather.
In two weeks of light use, the Plantronics CS55 wireless telephone headset has worked fine. My last Plantronics headset lasted me a little more than four years, which I found disappointing. After all, I'm not on the phone all that much. I hope the Plantronincs CS55 lasts at least that long, although I expect this job will have ended long before then.
The Plantronics CS55 wireless telephone headset seems like a good product. It has a somewhat complicated setup and its manual could be a little better, but the CS55 is comfortable and it has clear sound. If you don't really need wireless capability, I recommend getting a wired headset. However, the Plantronics CS55 is a very good wireless headset. I recommend it.