Plantronics Unveils VoIP Headset

The CS50-USB is headset manufacturer's first foray into VoIP and comes on the heels of its announcement that it will be working closely with softphone developer XTen to provide integrated products. Estimated retail price? $300. Ouch!

Plantronics has announced a wireless USB headset system designed for VoIP calls that provides call answer/end capability and remote ring detection, and enables users to roam up to 200 feet from their PC softphones without missing calls.

The Santa Cruz,CA-based headset manufacturer had unveiled its intention to enter the VoIP market, as reported on Voxilla nearly two weeks ago, via a partnership with VoIP softphone provider Xten Networks, Inc., Santa Clara, CA.Plantronics CS50-USB

“VoIP provides simple, portable and cost-effective telephony service, but until now, lacked mobility,” said Joe McGrogan, Plantronics director of product marketing in a prepared statement.

The Plantronics CS50-USB will sell for about $300 and will be available in December. U.S. and Canadian customers can order the device through the company’s Web site.

The headset user will be able to make and disconnect calls using the on-hook and off-hook buttons on the 900 Mhz wireless headsets, which will work directly with the softphone application. The base station will also be able to plug into a traditional phone line to enable the user to make and receive calls via either method, according to Xten Networks president and chief operating officer Erik Lagerway.

Though Bluetooth-enabled headsets have some similar capabilities, they have very limited range, typically about that of a speakerphone, according to Lagerway. The wireless headsets have a better range, making it easier for the user to move from place to place while continuing a conversation.

The two companies are also developing speech recognition capabilities that will enable the headset user to use launch calls and other VoIP capabilities with simple commands like: “Call Joe Smith.” The command will work in conjunction with the user’s contact list.

By the second quarter of 2005, Lagerway expects similar capabilities using Pocket PCs and other remote devices. He expects some of the initial announcements of those deals to be made very soon.

Wireless providers, remote device manufactures and others in the telecom industry are looking to take advantage of the growing interest in VoIP, Lagerway added.