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July 12, 2011 • Reviews

Office Gear Review: Sennheiser OfficeRunner Headset

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I spend a lot of time on the phone and have long thought about getting a good headset to use. I was close to buying the OfficeRunner some time back but did not. Why? In part because I read a fairly scathing review of it.The “review” that turned me off to a great extent and prompted me to not purchase the headset talked about the fact that this headset doesn’t work with cordless phones and that the volume that was so low that the person on the other end couldn’t hear the conversation. Both criticisms were, as I discovered, unfair. (I won’t link to it here because it was such a poorly researched and unfair critique.)

The volume issue was resolved by opening the back of the OfficeRunner base station and adjusting a small white knob that is inside. Such an adjustment took 2 seconds and would have been obvious to anyone who had read the user manual. The author in question clearly had not done so.

The second criticism was simply unfair because the OfficeRunner is not intended for use with a home, cordless phone system. As the name implies this is a work gadget and is intended for use in the office- hence the name. (That is why even the description of the headset includes- “This headset works with 98% of all corded office phones”.) It is for phone systems like the one on my desk at the office and, when used there, it works perfectly.

I share all of this as a simple reminder to read reviews with a grain of salt. That one was enough to turn me off of this device. I was foolish and, thankfully, I was given the chance to check it out in person and realize that this is one great productivity tool!

So let’s get on with it.

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The review unit came from Headsets.com. I’ve bought a number of devices from them over the years for voice recognition and have always had a great experience. While this isn’t a review of the company it is worth noting that, when it comes to customer service and responsiveness, they are one of the more reliable on-line resellers.

This is what they have to say about the OfficeRunner:

The OfficeRunner is our most popular, highest-rated and bestselling headset. With the OfficeRunner, you’ll be able to talk comfortably up to 400 feet away from your phone. Plus, you’ll have the satisfaction of knowing that your voice is coming through clearly to your callers thanks to the built-in noise-canceling microphone.

The OfficeRunner is backed by our compatibility guarantee. This headset works with 98% of all corded office phones. Also, this is our only wireless headset that includes a 2-year warranty. The OfficeRunner is built to last, and we’ll stand by it every step of the way. And as always, you’re covered by our FREE lifetime product support.

Lastly, not only does the OfficeRunner work with your office phone, it also works with your computer right out of the box.

Elsewhere you can find this description of the OfficeRunner:

A revolution in office productivity has arrived! OfficeRunner wireless headsets are lightweight, comfortable and uses a noise-canceling microphone to emphasize your voice and remove background noise so you sound clearer. Your voice remains constant and crystal clear and your hands are left free to take notes or type at your computer.

The OfficeRunner untethers you from your desk, free to roam up to 400 feet – clear across even the largest of offices. Now you can gather files, use the photocopier – even grab a coffee from the kitchen, all while remaining on your call – your caller need never know!

At the touch of a button, the OfficeRunner headset switches between your desktop phone and your PC for VoIP calls—a single wireless telephone headset for your office desktop phone and PC.

Talk for up to 12 hours before returning the headset to its convenient cradle, a full recharge only takes one hour!

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Technical Specifications

Max Range / Cord Length 400 ft./120 m

Weight 0.78 oz.

Works with your existing single- or multi-line phone

Microphone Noise-canceling

Earpiece Leatherette

Color Silver & Black

Battery Life 12-hour talk time

Digital Encryption

 

 

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The base station for the headset is intended to make a statement. It does. A cube of plastic with calling lights it sits at an angle so that even when the headset isn’t attached to it. It looks a bit unusual. Connect the headset to it using the magnetic clasp and it looks even more unique.

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I kind of like the headset just based upon that aspect alone. Fortunately that is not the only thing worth liking as far as the OfficeRunner is concerned.

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The headset grabs the audio input and output from the phone by bypassing the cord going to the phone’s handset. You simply attach one end of the phone cable to the base station and the other goes back to the handset. After that thinking and taking calls is as simple as picking up the handset and dialing the phone. The audio will be passed through the headset so long as you are wearing it and it is glowing blue.

You can also attach a USB cable (as I have done here) and use the OfficeRunner with your computer.

See the white circle toward the top of the square? That’s the knob that increases or decreases the call volume. Hard to find right? 🙂

When I first began using the OfficeRunner my assistant Sunny could not hear a word I said. I was about to conclude that the “review” that had initially turned me off of the device was correct but, thankfully, I thought to read the manual. Sure enough a slight increase in the mic volume using this white knob and I was good to go.

Since Sennheiser knows that people also use voice over IP these days they made sure that the freedom headset can work with your traditional phone line as well as with a number of different point clients. In order to make this happen. You simply connect a USB cable to the base station and to your computer. The base station gives you a choice of whether you want to route audio from the phone or from the computer to the headset. Choose one and it goes one direction. Choose the other and you’re now sending audio from end to the computer itself. As somebody who uses quite a great deal I love the flexibility that this offers.

It does, unfortunately, result in even more wires snaking across your desk. That is unfortunate but it is also unavoidable.

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No matter how good the audio electronics in a headset are, nothing is going to make as big a difference as beginning the microphone as close you your mouth as possible. And when such a boom mic is combined with high-end electronics… that’s when you get great audio quality. That’s the combination the OfficeRunner provides. It has state of the art electronics AND the long shape of the mic brings it right up to your mouth. The result is excellent.

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Here’s the other side of the mic.

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The small brass contacts are where the headset makes contact with the base for retarding. The mic clips into place and can be removed with ease. That’s key if a call is coming on.

You can use the ear loop (and it is reversible so you can be either left OR right “eared”.

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Or you can pop off the ear loop and use the included headband.

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The microphone pops right into the headband and, once in place, it looks like the two were never apart.

I tried both the ear loop and the headband and found myself preferring the headband when using the headset for an extended period of time. Sure, I look geeky (geekier than usual??), but for me this is all about comfort and quality of sound.

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But wait, there’s more. If you want to be able to have the calls routed directly to the headset so that you don’t need to pick up the hand piece each time, you can buy an additional accessory which literally lifts handset from the phone whenever the phone rings. It is a bit cumbersome in look and implementation, but it does do the job quite well.

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With the ORL 12 OfficeRunner Handset Lifter attached, the OfficeRunner wireless headset gently chimes in your ear when a call comes to your desk. A simple press of a button on your headset instructs the handset lifter to raise your receiver from its cradle, connecting you to your caller, without the need to return to your desk. When the call is done, press the button on your headset again and your receiver is gently lowered back into its cradle and you are ready for your next caller. All from up to 400 feet away!

It is a pretty cool accessory, and it does making living with the OfficeRunner much easier.

The bottom line with this headset is this: if you’re going to use a headset with your work phone it needs to be comfortable, have a good range and give good audio clarity. This system does all three superbly. And that’s a good thing considering the high price tag! I suspect that is why you can try the OfficeRunner for a period of time obligation-free. It is a fairly hefty investment and, only by trying it, will many be able to appreciate the value in it.

If you use a phone at work and you are on it quite a bit this is something worth considering. It alleviates a great deal of neck strain, leaves your hands free when you’re on the phone, and is more comfortable than just about anything else I’ve tried. Add all of that together and mix in a really cool base that will be sitting on your desk and draw question like “Dan, what new thing do you have now???” and you’ve got a winner – so long as you can afford it.

You can check out more details and arrange to try one yourself right here on Headsets.com.

MSRP: $388.95 (Pro bundle that included the handset lifter)

What I Like: Comfortable; Great sound quality; works with office phone and VOiP; Cool looking base; a number of different ways to wear the headset; Using the handset lifter you can answer remotely

What Needs Improvement: Pricey; Mic volume may require tweaking; Designed specifically for wired office phones; Leaves lots of cable lying around

 

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