I want to break free. Snom A170 wireless DECT headset review

Good day, colleagues.
With the last article we completed the cycle of reviews on desk phones, now we propose to talk about the headsets provided by our company. Let’s start with the DECT headset model Snom A170… Watch a quick video about the headset and start reading!

DECT standard

“Why actually DECT?”, The reader will probably ask us. Let’s take a look at the DECT standard as a whole and its advantages and disadvantages compared to other possible options.
DECT (Digital Enhanced Cordless Telecommunication) is a wireless communication technology at frequencies of 1880-1900 MHz. The technology is currently very widespread in solutions for wireless home and office phones, as well as wireless headsets. The popularity of DECT for voice transmission is due to several factors:

  • The DECT standard was originally intended specifically for voice transmission and is used only for this purpose. This means that there is no need to think about prioritizing traffic or congestion of the frequency range, it will be occupied exclusively by devices for voice transmission.
  • Range of action. The range of devices operating under this protocol is limited primarily by the power of the transmitter. The maximum power according to this standard is limited to 10 mW, which makes it possible to separate the receiving and transmitting devices up to 300 m in line of sight and up to 50 meters indoors. At the same time, switching between signal sources is carried out faster than in the same Wi-Fi, not allowing the user to hear that the switch has occurred. Speaking of the range, it cannot be said that it is fundamentally greater than that of competing technologies, but the range of the DECT signal source is large enough to provide the user with freedom of movement or build a network based on many signal sources, covering a significant area.
  • Number of channels. This means the number of simultaneously operating devices. The DECT standard implies the presence of 10 frequency radio channels, seemingly a little. But each of the frequency channels is subdivided into 12 time channels, giving a total of more than a hundred channels for voice transmission.

If we talk about using it as a technology for connecting wireless headsets, the main competitor to DECT is Bluetooth technology. Compared to this technology, DECT will have both advantages and disadvantages.
To the benefits DECT before Bluetooth can be attributed to a larger coverage radius (Bluetooth can provide data transmission at a distance of ten meters, while DECT is several times larger), the number of channels described above, which Bluetooth will have slightly less and use specifically for sound transmission, which will exclude the presence third-party devices using the same communication technology and frequency range.
By cons the same can be attributed to a relatively high power consumption (Bluetooth devices consume noticeably less energy, which means they spend longer without recharging) and the need to connect your phone to the headset base station to interact with it.

Unpacking and packaging

We now turn to the consideration of the DECT headset itself.

The first thing you notice when unpacking the box is the headset’s bundle. Perhaps it is thanks to her that this headset can be called a universal working tool and a faithful companion in almost any situation. The headset itself is a unit with a microphone, speaker and DECT transceiver. The battery is removable and initially it is not installed on the unit, and there are 2 batteries in the kit.

Together with the simple installation mechanism and the presence of a separate connector for charging the battery at the base station of the headset, this eliminates the disadvantage of DECT technology in relation to the device’s power consumption.

Moreover, the battery can be replaced while talking, which will allow you to always stay in touch.
In addition to the device itself and batteries, the headset comes with holders for various options for carrying the device. You can clip the headset on your ear, use the classic headset rim mount, or use the neck clip. Changing the mount takes a matter of seconds, and you can use the type of wearing we are comfortable with at the moment.

And, of course, the headset comes with a base station for connecting the headset to your phone or PC. The base station is powered by a dedicated power supply unit, which is also included, and is equipped with adapters for connection to both Snom phones and PCs, as well as to third-party phones. The adapter kit includes:

  • USB-Mini USB cable for PC connection
  • RJ9 to RJ9 cable for transferring audio between phone and headset
  • Dedicated EHS Cable to Connect to Snom Phones
  • EHS cable for connection to standardized connector

This set of adapters allows you to connect the headset to any stationary device and work with it.

Design

Outwardly, the headset looks very laconic and impressive. At the same time, any of the holders is harmoniously combined with the main unit, forming the appearance of a monolithic whole device. This state does not interfere with charging or changing the battery at all, simplifying the user’s work with the headset and its transitions between different holders. The speaker, mated to the holders, has its own stepped mobility, which allows you to place the headset on your head as conveniently as possible.

The volume control joystick is located on the top of the main unit. If in the PC connection mode it adjusts the volume level of the headset itself, then in the phone mode the volume level changes directly on the phone. In addition, the main unit has a Mute key that turns off the microphone, and the main function key for making and ending calls, equipped with a headset status and charge indicator.

The rest of the control of the headset is carried out from the base station. The headset base station also looks modern and elegant.

On it, as already mentioned, there is a special compartment for charging the battery, and below it are connectors for connecting to a PC and a telephone set and a connector for connecting a power supply.

On the charging cradle of the headset there are keys for working with the telephone set and the PC, the key for registering the headset based on “PAIR” and the indicator of the Mute mode and the rechargeable battery. You will have to use the registration key only in extreme cases, by default the headset is registered to the base and does not require separate manipulations to connect to it.

On the bottom panel of the base station there are toggle switches for switching wideband and narrowband audio modes, a toggle switch for turning on auto answer and a lever for selecting a frequency channel.

Functionality and operation

In general, the description of the keys on the base takes more time than it takes to get used to using the headset. To get started, you need to connect the USB cable to the PC and wait until the drivers are installed.

With the phone, it’s still easier – plug the headset into the appropriate jacks and start using it. To switch between devices, we use the PC and PHONE keys on the base station. When you press a key, its indicator lights up green and you can use the headset for purposes convenient to us.
The maximum distance between the headset and the base during operation is 50 meters. This is more than enough to feel at ease within a fairly spacious office and much more than a Bluetooth headset can give.
The quality of the sound transmitted and received by the headset is excellent. Naturally, to listen to music, it is advisable to turn on the broadband mode on the base station. In this case, you will not notice the difference compared to wired headsets, but you can safely move around the room.

The microphone captures sound very well, rightly not inferior in quality to many handsets, which is a very good indicator for a headset. All frequencies and intonations are transmitted correctly, and noise is muted. The very same noise cancellation of the headset is extremely passive, it is achieved through ear pads or a rubber insert, depending on the type of holder used.

Summarize

What do we end up with? As a result, we have a product of high quality in its simplicity, which will be your faithful companion in the workplace and will make your colleagues pay attention to you, serving as a modern accessory for your everyday look.

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