When it comes to business communications, headsets have always been a hot topic; and since COVID came along, turning our communication habits upside down, they’re more topical than ever.
With a plethora of UC platforms and devices, companies and private users are faced with various choices when they purchase a new headset, one of the main ones being: Which UC platform are they going to be compatible with?
In practice, users want products that are compatible with all the major softphones and conference call platforms; but they often have to choose only one softphone for their headset to be compatible with. This means that they are forced to make do with the mouse for controlling the other softphones whenever they’re invited to a meeting that is using an alternative softphone.
JPL Telecom’s new USB bottom cord, the BL-055, was designed in a modular manner in order to address this issue, offering cross-platform compatibility, making the headset future-proof and increasing cost-efficiency.
The Modularity Approach
The BL-055 can be bought either as an individual USB cord, meant to connect to QD headsets; or as an inbuilt bottom cord attached to JPL’s existing USB headsets. Basically, it’s a plain old bottom cord, with all the regular functions; but it has some significant twists that make it exceptionally valuable to users looking for flexibility.
“Normally, a headset’s bottom cord dangles around the user’s chest area, but we find that many people prefer to operate these products using a base station,” says James Clarke, CEO at JPL Telcom.
“This is why we designed the BL-055 to magnetically dock into a docking station, which instantly turns the operation of the headset from in-line to desk control”
The unique shape of the control box makes it impossible to dock it the wrong way around, which makes the whole solution easy and intuitive to use. The buttons themselves are also quite intuitive to use, as each button feels different.
“The idea is – the user doesn’t have to look anymore because they know what they’re touching.”
In addition, the cord also contains an adapter, making it both USB-A and USB-C compatible.
Both Universal and Specific
JPL’s modular approach enabled them to make the BL-055 both software-specific and software-agnostic at the same time. They did this by creating different versions of the base station to be compatible with different softphones.
The cord itself can be purchased in a softphone-specific version – be it Teams, Zoom, or any other softphone – which contains the call accept/reject keys in-line. But Clarke predicts that the biggest seller will be the universal version, which only contains volume and mute keys.
The reason is quite clear: a user who gets the universal version can always purchase the softphone-specific base module; dock the control box into it; and easily accept and reject calls using the base station. This is particularly important for large rollouts, given that most IT managers are less keen on the idea of individual users having to download software updates on a secure PC or server.
Competitive and Cost-Effective
“We are trying to develop across our business, what makes us a bit different – the modularity approach, where you can take things apart and add something or make something different,” Clarke explains.
“The upside here is that the cost of ownership drops dramatically. If you break something, or if you change your mind on what you’re going to connect to, you just buy that little bit instead of having to purchase the whole item, which not only makes this product cost-effective, but it makes it sustainable as well.”
When it comes to pricing, JPL makes sure to keep its bottom USB cords competitive. If one decides to go for a JPL QD headset (also compatible with Plantronics headsets), they can get a USB bottom cord for just a few pounds extra and turn it into a USB headset. This gives the headset all the benefits the users have with a QD, such as disconnecting the QD during a call or moving away from the desk and then reconnecting the QD without losing the call; as well as an in-line control with volume, mute and call accept/reject functions.
This Article was first published by UC Today.