Like a lot of modern offices, the UC News’ editorial office suffers from a degree of sound ingress from adjacent rooms, both from rooms on the same floor and other immediately below. Everybody using the rooms has their preferred audio or video conferencing devices hooked up to their laptop or desktop computer. Add to this, people editing video pieces and podcasts, and the background to the working day can only be described as a productivity inhibiting racket. When the Sennheiser representative called, asking us to review the SDW5016 wireless headset, we thought: Why not? We had all tried conventional headphones and earbuds, the headset couldn’t be any less comfortable or distracting – and it seemed to have the potential to be a good deal better,
Priced around £250, the SDW5016 is definitely a tool for professionals working in an office environment or the remote worker challenged by competing sound sources, be it other professionals in a business centre, the kids or the neighbour’s lawn mower. Physically, the SDW5016 is far from compact in its totality, coming with several bits including a headband, neckband and ear hook fixings. It has a USB Bluetooth dongle on the base station for mobile phone connection.
The desk stand which acts as a DECT base unit and wireless charger for the headset. It has the usual desk phone inputs at the back along with Micro USB for connection to a PC. There’s also a USB port at the side into which you can plug a wired USB headset or the included adapter which allows the SDW5016 to connect wirelessly to your mobile over Bluetooth.
Setting up the SDW5016 was really straightforward. The instructions were copious but with assistance of the office millennial, installation was intuitive. The base station graphics were clear, with inputs for a standard handset, a phone jack, handset lifter, PC and a busy light, plus AC power which charges the headset when docked. A full charge takes around an hour and will last between 6 and 10 hours of call time depending on band selection. A touch panel provides quick access to mute and switching between computer, landline and mobile.
Desk phone cables plug straight in and a micro USB plus into a USB port on a Windows 10 PC. The optional LED indicator light that changes colour from green to red when busy. Switching from one device to another is easy with the currently activated device lit up on the base unit. Additional control is available from the earpiece which has an on/off/answer call/battery check button on the outside and a volume slider.
Tasked with conducting the trial of the SDW5016, I found the ability to switch between my landline, mobile and desktop really useful – particularly as I could do this virtually everywhere in the building. I found the ear hook provided a little difficult to wear with my spectacles. Non-glasses wearing colleagues reported no such problems and were generally complimentary about comfort and audio quality.
Wandering around the office and being able to answer calls on all of my three devices, without doing the traditional charge up the stairs to pick up before the call drops, was a welcome improvement and almost certainly justifies the cost of the SDW5016. The audio quality was good and the noise canceling technology seemed to make a positive difference in reducing the background noise in the office. Overall, a worthwhile investment.