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Saturday, February 21, 2015

Initial Impressions of the Windows 10 Technical Preview

This is just a short post to talk about my recent download and installation of the Windows 10 Technical Preview and I have to say, wow. Double-wow for being able to run on my six year old Acer 8950 laptop. It seems to run faster than Windows 7 and even 8.1 from my initial testing. I haven't run into many problems yet with exception of some SD card issues which I believe may be the SD reader having intermittent trouble. Beyond that, no real complaints so far.

If you have a spare VM or physical machine from the past couple of years laying around, definitely throw a copy of the Technical Preview on it and try it for yourself.

Jabra Evolve 80 UC Review

Special thanks to Jabra for sending me a BETA edition for testing!




Wearability

One thing that should be instantly noticed is that the headset is not lightweight. It is bulky, but not in a bad way at all. The speakers themselves make up the most of the weight and the headband is a lightweight plastic / rubber material that is flexible. The rubber on the headband acts as a cushion when wearing the headset. It is also molded in such a way to prevent it from shifting on your head. I find this to add to the feeling that you are wearing quality audio gear. There’s plenty of material to cushion the ears. My heads not small, but so far these are relatively comfortable. If you are used to wearing high quality stereo headphones, these should not come as a shock to the head.

Audio Quality

This is where the headset really stands out. Jabra has added noise cancellation technology to this headset which can be activated with a small sliding switch on the bottom of the right earpiece. With the super soft padding encapsulating your ears, even without the noise cancellation, outside sound is dampened which ultimately enhances the audio experience. I LOVE the noise cancellation feature. Music, phone calls, webinars all sound far better than previous headsets I've tried. Upon letting a friend use these temporarily, one of the first things they noticed was how quiet the headset is once it’s on your ears and that the sound quality was a tad better than their Beats headphones. I’m not sure what kind of drivers they use, but they sound good.

Usability

One pain point I discovered during my initial testing was with the microphone boom. The boom is very stiff to manipulate. It was so stiff that if you attempt to move the boom while wearing the headset, it’s not easily done with one hand. It’s not impossible, but the whole headset will shift and twist, making for a really awkward adjustment to something that should be easy. For me this is probably the only design flaw I noticed with this model. The boom itself is flexible, just getting the boom to rotate into position is difficult. This stiffness lessens but not by much after regular use. THIS IS THE ONLY REASON I GIVE IT 4 / 5 STARS.

The headset has a mute button on the same side as the boom. It’s large, doesn’t have a lot of play and only requires a light press to activate / deactivate. To me it felt very natural to use my right hand and press to mute. Maybe that’s because I’m so used to answering my bluetooth headsets this way, but it still felt natural. Snug fitting, yet comfortable.

Finally, the DND lights on the headset are a nice touch too that can be enabled with the USB UC adapter.

So, if you are looking for a quality headset that is good for more than just UC, The Jabra Evolve 80 is what you want.

I've been using this headset for a little over a month now in various situations, and it's been consistently good. I can't stress enough how the noise cancellation feature has improved call quality for me and has helped me enjoy webinars and music even more. My primary use was with Google Hangouts (pc, tablet, phone), Join.Me, WebEx & cell phone calls.

*Original review Spiceworks can be found here:
http://community.spiceworks.com/product/59795-jabra-evolve-80-ms-stereo-usb-headset?source=Selector_1