Office product reviews – Plantronics Calisto Speakerphone

Office product reviews – best kit for the home office

It’s essential to have the best tools for maximum productivity when you work from home, but it can be difficult to decide exactly what is the right purchase. The following office product reviews have been carried out by home workers with that purpose in mind.

Plantronics Calisto Speakerphone – P835-M with PA50 Mic

What is it?
This actually took a bit of figuring out, even from the Amazon description which was a bit sparse to say the least.
The simplest description is that it is a speakerphone with a hands free microphone facility.
I found that it linked my home phone, my mobile phone, Skype and my VoIP softphone into the one device allowing me to take calls hands free.

Design **
The Plantronics Calisto Speakerphone is a fairly chunky box design with a high gloss surface that shows fingerprints very easily. It doesn’t take up too much space, mine sat nicely on top of my Sky router on my desk.

It needs to be connected to the landline, a power source and your pc so there are several cables to accomodate, which as I placed it at the back of my desk were not on view but would have looked very messy if your desk isn’t adjacent to the wall.

How easy is it to set up & learn to use? *
I’d like to say it was easy but I spent hours of wasted time trying to work out how to connect it to my PC, downloading various bits of Microsoft Software that in the end didn’t work because I didn’t have a Microsoft server account. But… I didn’t need one.

The device simply plugs into a usb port on your computer and it then can be used for Skype and VoIP although it never shows on the device that it has been connected. That was rather confusing, and their website and user manual were very obscure about that being all you needed to do.

In terms of pairing with my mobile and landline this was very simple and took seconds. I didn’t spend ages programming the phone book as I wasn’t keen on having to enter all the names through the numeric keypad.

Does it do what it claims? **
I’d say yes it does, I was certainly able to use it for landline, mobile and pc based calls.

In order to use the PC calls side of things you have to be permanently connected via a USB cable which made it a lot less effective for me, it meant that I was tied to my desk anyway.

I could initiate a call from my pc, mobile, landline or the device.

Quality ***
In terms of build quality I have no issues with the Plantronics Calisto Speakerphone, it’s solid and works well.

But I did struggle with sound quality on several of the calls and ended up ringing people back on either my mobile or land line.

It was hit and miss, it wasn’t every call, but some calls were so static filled that the other person couldn’t hear me, or more often said I sounded like I was at the far side of the room despite being sat right next to the device.

Does it increase your productivity/ save you money, time or hassle? **
I honestly didn’t think it did for me, I actually wasted several hours trying to work out how to use it for the pc based calls which is what I would want to use it for.

If you were working as part of a team and all needed to be on the call then I can see the use for it, however, as a solo home worker it actually created more hassle than it resolved.

It was nice to be able to talk without having my mobile to my ear as often I need to find information on my phone and can’t as I am in the middle of a conversation, but I have most of that information on my PC or iPad anyway so wasn’t a big enough time saver.

Also the hit and miss quality of the calls meant I didn’t have faith in it for important calls so tended to bypass it and use one of the other phones instead.

When it did work the call quality was excellent. I suspect that it could need several hours of trying it in different locations in the office to get the best result. Perhaps it didn’t like being so close to the PC, but as PC calls were important for me then it had to be placed close enough to reach a USB port.

Worth the investment? **
With a retail price tag around the £160 mark I would say a Plantronics Calisto Speakerphone is not for me. I’d rather invest in a VoIP handset which would have been more effective. However, if you have several people in the team who need to be on a call then possibly.

Overall score **2 stars

Best for
A small office who have several people who need to take part in the call. I could see the Plantronics Calisto Speakerphone being more use to non-home workers than to someone who works alone.

With thanks to Plantronics for supplying the sample for our office product reviews.

Buy the Plantronics Calisto P835-M Speakerphone from Amazon

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