Lync 2013 & 2010 – HighEnd Optimised Wired headsets for Lync & Skype

Hello Readers

Following a months worth of bench marking tests of the three main vendor high-end wired headsets available to Lync (optimised devices). Below are the details on the devices and information around the benchmarking criteria plus my unbiased opinion. 

With what is now tradition, i will be using the same metrics/categories as i have done in the past with other Lync headset/devices reviews completed. I will score each headset on the following metrics, plus also giving an unbiased synopsis including RRP pricing guide.

The four categories are (Sound, Functionality, Usability, Cost) AND a new Category

  • Sound quality of Music playing– this is something new I’ve added to the reviews and i would say it isn’t something i would use as the main driver for buying or not buying a headset on. The reason for adding this is on my other blog posting at NorthernLync in the past, i have had people asking me about using a Lync headset to listen to music between calls. Personally i don’t think any optimised Lync headsets were manufactured to be a dedicated music playing device, but as I’ve been asked the question I’ve added it into the review anyway.

From Left to right are the ‘flagship’ headsets from each vendor. (Jabra BIZ2400, Plantronics Blackwire 720 and Sennheiser SC630) ***All the headsets i was testing were in mono ear’d format. (my preference)

 

JabraBiz2400Blackwire 7xxSennheiser sc630

 

First up the Jabra Biz 2400

  • Sound – It has to be said from the start of this review, all the headsets had the sound quality marked as excellent. For the Jabra i found the inward sound to be crystal clear on Lync calls. Also i had comments about the clarity of the outward sound. On a few occasions the recipient of the call did ask if i was the only person working in the office as they couldn’t hear any background noise whatsoever. Also on the odd occasion where i was not talking i had the end recipient saying ‘hello’ back at me as the headset almost felt like to them it had put the call on mute and as described by one caller as ‘pure silence’. That said i was impressed with the sound quality for day to day Lync calls.
    • Sound quality via Music playing – I found it a odd experience and maybe this was due to listening into one ear only, but I think the music lacked bass, and high pitch tones on some songs played. Also it was a little bit ‘tinny’.
  • Functionality – As well as good call quality sound, the BIZ 2400 comes armed with a ‘puk’ sized device attached to the cable. On standard day to day use this is were you would alter the volume and mute/answer calls. The wheel function in the middle endlessly turns and a in-ear clicking noise on rotation is heard. One the secret weapons the BIZ 2400 does have in its armour is within the same Puk device that holds a bluetooth receiver which allows you to pair with your mobile phone and allow for using your headset to make and take mobile phone calls. neat eh!! well hold on a second… it is a neat feature until you close your lid of your laptop, or turn / lock your desktop.!! at this point the bluetooth dongle in the PUK looses the power and without a inbuilt battery it stops working.!! Also i should note the boom arm also rotates a full 360* which i guess is a feature but not something i would play on as part of promoting the product.? 
  • Usability – I used this headset for a week in the testing phase, and i can say i never thought anything untoward about it.. its a nice piece of kit. it was comfy to wear for long periods, sound quality was good. The nice leather ear pads felt like cushions against your ear. Also within the box came a kind of nylon bag to keep your headset safe if you was in the need to remove it each working shift for storage
  • Unbiased Verdict – I was moderately impressed with the BIZ2400, and would recommend it to customers who were biased towards Jabra and who was in the market for a high end device. ALSO Jabra tells me there are 20 different types of this headset to suit different scenarios, so if your in need of a custom/different headset requirement its worth looking on their website.
  • RRP – £129 is the market rate on these at this moment which sits in the middle pricing of the three devices
  • Link http://www.jabra.com/products/wired_headsets/jabra_biz__2400__series  

The release date is available now

————-

Next up the Plantronics Blackwire 7xx Series 

 

  • Sound – The sound quality with the Blackwire 720 is excellent as you would expect with any premium high end device. There are some really nice additions to the features for sound on this device which makes it a more preferred headset over the Jabra. See below.
    • Sound quality via Music playing – Now if you want a headset for Music playing, then this and the Sennheiser below are the ones to choose. The Blackwire boasts stereo sound which came across as a really full crisp sound on playing a variety of music types. (sorry I didn’t try it on heavy metal), but for ‘day to day’ music it sounded great even through the single ear.! AND a feature which i thought was brilliant was the fact that when you was playing music and for whatever reason you took off the headset, it would pause the music automatically.
  • Functionality – As well as the really good call quality, the Blackwire series is packed with gadgetry which is the leader in its field. Below is some of the neat gag which is inbuilt into the headset
    • On pickup of the headset when a call is ringing in your Lync client, the headset automatically answers the call;
    • Same bluetooth style connection built into the headset but this headset also comes within a inbuilt battery meaning you can unplug it from the desktop/laptop and the headset still work over bluetooth;
    • If on a bluetooth mobile call, then the device is clever enough to put your Lync status as in a call.;
    • The ability to move a call from your mobile to Lync via the headset without having to redial;
    • Headset battery status visible from the toolbar of your desktop/laptop, so you know how much change you have to play with on bluetooth only calls;
      • If there was a very small negative to take from all the great functionality is that the bluetooth range isn’t particularly vast. I can only get to 3 metres from the mobile phone before the sound became choppy.
  • Usability – I love it, i would be happy to use this headset day in day out, both for calls in quiet and noisy places. It also comes with a formed padded carry case to provide a good level of protection.
  • Unbiased Verdict – I can’t state enough i think this is one of the best wired headsets I’ve ever used with Lync. The features are top notch, the sound is excellent for calls and music. This headset without doubt will be going into my kit back for client recommendations.
  • RRP – less than £100 at this moment, which makes it £30 cheaper than the Jabra BIZ2400. In my opinion i would be going for the blackwire over the BIZ2400 even if the pricing was the same. For me Its a no brainer going for c720 over the BIZ2400.
  • Link http://www.plantronics.com/uk/product/blackwire-700#reviews
The release date is available now

————-

Last up is the new kid on the block, the Sennheiser ‘Century’ SC630

 

  • Sound – What can i say, by default the sound quality of all the Sennheiser devices spreads though there product range. The SC630 isn’t an exception to this as the audio quality is high-end. Sennheiser states that the Audio is HD audio which i do agree with.
    • Sound quality via Music playing – As with the the Plantronics Blackwire device, the Sennheiser headset also sports the concept of allowing for high quality stereo music. this it does really well, and i would say it is a better sound on music playback over the Plantronics. This music sounds rich and clear.
  • Functionality – As well as the excellent call quality of the sound for calling and Music, the Sennheisers SC630 build quality is to a high degree using premium end materials. The look and feel of the headset ouzes premium grade quality. Although the functionality isn’t on the same level it terms of gadgetry, Sennheiser has chosen to go down the build and quality road to give the end user the best sound and device quality experience. Below are some of the features detailed from Sennheiser on the SC6xx devices.
    • Sennheiser HD voice clarity – wideband sound for a natural listening experience
    • Ultra noise canceling microphone for perfect speech transmission
    • Sound-enhancement profiles – perfect for communication and music
    • High-quality neodymium speaker for outstanding HD audio quality 
    • ActiveGard® technology protects users from acoustic shock and sudden sound surges
    • Call control unit allows for easy answer/ end a call, volume up/ down, microphone mute and redial last outgoing call
    • 3 years international warranty
  • Unbiased Verdict – If you want a excellent sounding audio headset which is as good running Lync calls as music playing, plus with a excellent build quality then the SC630 is the one of choice.
  • RRP – As this device is relatively new to the Lync market, the price point is the highest of the three devices at £149 per headset. That said, that old saying goes… you get what you pay for and with the SC630 its high-end quality throughout.
  • Link http://en-uk.sennheiser.com/centurysc-630-sc-660
The release date is available now
  • Overall Verdict and Star Ratings.

I enjoyed using all the devices i tested and reviewed, they all did what i expected them to do. Also it was refreshing that i didn’t have to write any negatives about the devices. If i had to choose a winner and a preferred device of choice, based on build quality and sound preferences i would suggest the Sennheiser SC630. If you was wanting more technical features along with excellent sound quality to match then the Plantronics c720. Sadly i think out of the three headsets the BIZ2400 just didn’t cut the mustard in both in build quality or technical options.

Jabra BIZ2400 StarStarStar

Plantronics c720 StarStarStarStar

Sennheiser Sc630 StarStarStarStar

***Also to note, all of the headsets were tested with Office for Mac Lync as well, and all preformed as expected.

Thanks for reading. the next device review will be around the mini conference devices.

Regards

Iain Smith

Ultra noise canceling microphone for perfect speech transmission 

Avoiding Lync 2013 deployment pitfalls

On face value, you could say the installation of the Microsoft Lync product could be a press ‘next, next, next, finish’ set-up. But if you were to take this approach you would become unstuck very quickly. So what are the most common pitfalls I’ve seen along the way around Lync deployments?

1. Not asking the right questions to your clients – albeit internal or external clients.

If you don’t ask the right questions at the start, your Lync system and deployment will be fraught with challenges. In your armoury you should begin with a raft of questions that need answering before commencing with a technical design session. When I start any client engagements I run through a raft of questions starting with a minimum set of 26 questions, which based on the answers then expands to a further 40+ questions.
2. Overlooking network considerations including WAN and bandwidth usage across all client websites.

This is massively overlooked by most. It’s OK to say the customer has a 50mb WAN link to other sites, but without proper network connectivity analysis you could fall into the trap of having an over saturated network of bandwidth usage. In turn, this means that your Lync system will suffer from poor audio and Video. If this happens, you then might be faced with the further challenge of raising the question around QOS and CAC capabilities with your customer.
3. Insufficient planning

I can’t stress this common pitfall enough. It is essential to plan your deployment from start to finish, get dates in the diary for all the team due to work on the deployment. Raise change controls requests ahead of time and be sure to plan for network assessments, capacity planning and QOS provisioning. Failing to properly plan PSTN vs WAN capacity and insufficient network modelling can severely impact audio quality. You only have one chance to make the right impact with Lync and your client so plan plan plan!
4. Not fully understanding your Internal Wi-Fi limits

In the modern day more laptops are now being built without a physical Ethernet adaptor/ports. Therefore users are utilising their organisations internal Wi-Fi to communicate with the Lync Servers. Out of the many client engagements I’ve been involved with, I can count on one single hand the amount of customers who have actually configured, or even had the capability to configure, their enterprise Wi-Fi routers for correct bandwidth provisioning for Lync.

This means that the majority of organisations allow their Lync traffic to mix with the plethora of other non-critical end user traffic traversing the internal Wi-Fi. If this is the case, the quality and results for Lync’s audio and video could result in a poor end user experience.

5. Not knowing the Lync limitations and discussing these with your customer.

There is nothing worst than surprises midway through the deployment phase. For example, Lync standard edition is no longer the suitable option for multisite high availability. It is imperative to discuss the limitations of the Lync modals with your customer beforehand as this makes an easier transition in the long run.

6. Lack of Training and User adoption

I have seen many IT-specific Lync projects underappreciate the importance and value of communications, change management and training. This is especially true when Lync is being deployed as a PBX replacement voice system. Of course, training is especially important for some specific roles, such as the people operating the switchboard or administrative assistants who answer and place calls on behalf of others, such as personal assistants. However, it is extremely valuable also for “standard” users.

Your training and user adoption planning should at a minimum address four items:

i. Why the Change? Why is my organisation switching to Lync or adding Lync as an application? What are the expected benefits to me and also to my company?

ii. What is in it for me, or the company? How will Lync make the customers users life better?

Typical successes to a customer include tag for status change alerts; voice mail ability and missed call notifications in the users email inbox; improved ability to work effectively from home and another location using a ‘follow me’ telephone number or when traveling; and simultaneously ringing a mobile phone.

iii. When will it happen? How will the transition be managed? How will specific functions operate in the “new mode of operations”?

iv. Buy-in from Above – Getting buy-in from the top of the company can drive the success of user adoption. If the company’s management don’t embrace Lync neither will the administrative staff.

A classic mistake is to deploy the full set of Lync capabilities throughout the organisation, but then the employees only use a small part of the solution’s full potential. This implies that you’re not getting the full return on your investment. The last thing you need is to invest time and effort of deploying Lync, only to find that employees use it in the way they’ve always used their old PBX system. Lync really has the potential to change the way they work if the embrace the technology change. That’s one of the key reasons why many organisations deploy it in the first place: it’s not simply a technology upgrade – it’s a new way of collaborating.

7. The last three feet

In my opinion, the last three feet is one the most critical area of Lync and one where I see common issues arising. Typically customers will spend many thousands of pounds on deploying a Lync system and will then scrimp on devices either due to device unawareness or of a lack of device budget. The bottom line is all headsets being £5 to £300 will work with Lync, but the sound quality can be massively different and poor. The rule of thumb would be to always check the Microsoft peripherals website for Lync devices and always purchase ones which are Lync optimised.

Thanks

Iain Smith

Lync 2013 – Lync 2013 Key shortcuts

Good Afternoon All

It seems with every update or Patch Microsoft incorporates more Lync client shortcuts. With this in mind the below are the ones at the time of writing are available across the lync client application.

I will continue to update the list as and when a shortcut becomes available.

Below is the present list from the Microsoft page
Find shortcuts for

——————————————————————————–

General (any window)

Use the following keyboard shortcuts no matter which window has the focus.

Windows logo key+A Accept an incoming invite notification.
Windows logo key+Esc Decline an invite notification.
Windows logo key+Y Open the main window and put focus in the search box.
Windows logo key+F4 Self-mute/unmute audio.
Windows logo key+F5 Turn my Camera On/Turn my Camera Off when video is already established in the call.
Ctrl+Shift+Spacebar Put focus on the application sharing toolbar.
Ctrl+Alt+Spacebar Take back control when sharing your screen.
Ctrl+Shift+S Stop sharing your screen.

Lync main window

Ctrl+1 Move to the Contacts list tab.
Ctrl+2 Move to the persistent chat tab.
Ctrl+3 Move to the Conversation list tab.
Ctrl+4 Move to the Phone tab.
Ctrl+1 or Ctrl+Shift+1 As a delegate, transfer a call to someone else’s work number. (Not available in Lync Basic or with all Office 365 subscriptions.)
Alt+Spacebar Open the System menu. Alt opens the menu bar.
Alt+F Open the File menu.
Alt+M Start Meet Now.
Alt+T Open the Tools menu.
Alt+H Open the Help menu.

Contacts list

Delete Delete the selected custom group or contact.
Alt+Up Arrow Move the selected group up.
Alt+Down Arrow Move the selected group down.
Alt+Enter On the shortcuts menu─open the selected contact or group contacts card.
Spacebar Collapse or expand the selected group.
Shift+Delete Remove the selected contact from the Contacts list (non-distribution-group members only).

Contact card

Esc Close the contact card.
Ctrl+Tab Move through the tabs at the bottom of the contact card.
Ctrl+Shift+Tab Move through the tabs at the bottom of the contact card in reverse order.

Conversation window

F1 Open the Help home page (on the Help menu).
Esc Exit full-screen view if present. Otherwise, the Conversation window closes only if there is no audio, video, or sharing occurring.
Alt+C Accept any of the invite notifications. These include audio, video, call, and sharing requests.
Alt+F4 Close the Conversation window.
Alt+l Ignore any invite notifications. These include audio, video, call, and sharing requests.
Alt+R Rejoin audio in a meeting.
Alt+S Open the Save As dialog box for a file that was sent in the Conversation window.
Alt+V Invite a contact to an existing conversation.
Ctrl+S Save the contents of IM history. Works for person-to-person conversations when you use Outlook.
Ctrl+W Show or hide the instant message area.
Ctrl+F Send a file, or in the context of a conference, add a meeting attachment.
Ctrl+N Take your own notes by using Microsoft OneNote note-taking program. Starts OneNote. (Not available in Lync Basic.)
Ctrl+R Show or hide the participant list.
Ctrl+Shift+Enter Add video/end video.
Ctrl+Shift+H Hold or resume an ongoing audio conversation.
Ctrl+Shift+I Mark a conversation as having high importance. Works for person-to-person conversations, but isn’t available for meetings.
Ctrl+Shift+Y Show or hide the sharing stage.
Ctrl+Shift+P Switch to compact view.
Ctrl+Shift+K Switch to content-only view.
Ctrl+Enter Add audio/end audio.
Up Arrow When on a mode button, opens the corresponding callout.
Spacebar When focus is on a mode button, a default action is taken. So for audio, mute or unmute occurs, whereas for video, it starts or stops the camera.
Esc Dismiss or hide an open callout or bubble that has keyboard focus.

Call controls (Conversation window)

Alt+Q End a call.
Ctrl+Shift+T Transfer: Open the contact picker during a peer-to-peer call. (Not available in Lync Basic or with all Office 365 subscriptions.)
Ctrl+Shift+H Put a call on hold.
Ctrl+Shift+D Display the dial pad.

Video (Conversation window)

F5 View video in full screen. If the stage area is visible in the Conversation window, F5 won’t take full-screen video.
Esc Exit full-screen video.
Ctrl+Shift+O Pop out Gallery; Pop in Gallery.
Ctrl+Shift+L Lock your video for everyone in the meeting.

IM (Conversation window)

F1 Open Help.
F12 Save the IM conversation.
Shift+Enter Add carriage returns.
Shift+Insert or Ctrl+V Paste.
Ctrl+A Select all content.
Ctrl+B Make the selected text bold.
Ctrl+C Copy the selected text.
Ctrl+X Cut the selected text.
Ctrl+l Italicize the selected text.
Ctrl+U Underline the selected text.
Ctrl+Y Redo the last action.
Ctrl+Z Undo the last action.
Ctrl+Shift+F Change the color of the font. (Only changes color for what you type, not for what the other person types.)
Alt+P Open a file that’s been received.
Alt+D Decline a file that’s been sent.
Ctrl+Shift+M To get focus to your IM input area.

Conversation or meeting stage

F5 View the Conversation window meeting stage in full screen.
Esc Exit full screen if present.
Alt+T Stop sharing.
Ctrl+Shift+E Manage presentable content.
Ctrl+Shift+Y Show or hide the sharing stage.
Ctrl+Shift+A Force pending L1 alert into view in full screen.
Ctrl+Shift+J Switch to speaker view.
Ctrl+Shift+l Switch to gallery view.

Ctrl+Shift+Right Arrow or Ctrl+Shift+Left Arrow
Tab out of the sharing region in a forward direction, and/or tab out of the sharing region in a backward direction.

Conversation environment

Delete Delete selected items.
Home Move top of list.
End Move to bottom of list.
Page Up Move one page up.
Page Down Move one page down.
Up Arrow Move up to the previous contact for conversation.
Down Arrow Move down to the next contact for conversation.

PPT sharing: Legacy PPT viewer

Tab When the content space is in focus, tab through the controls for PPT sharing (Prev arrow, Next arrow, Thumbnails, and Notes).
Right Arrow When focus is on content area, move to the next click, or slide, if no click for animation is on the current slide.
Left or Right Arrow When the thumbnail area is in focus, move focus to the previous or next thumbnail without changing the active slide.
Left Arrow When focus is on content area, move to the previous click, or slide if no click for animation is on the current slide.
Home When thumbnail area is in focus, set the focus on the first slide thumbnail without changing the active slide.
Enter Select the control in focus or thumbnails if thumbnail strip has focus and select (change in active slide).
End When the thumbnail area is in focus, set the focus on the last slide thumbnail without changing the active slide.

Tabbed conversations

Alt+Spacebar Open tab window’s system menu.
Ctrl+Shift+T Set focus on tab item in tabbed conversation view.
Ctrl+Tab Switch to the next tab (continuously loop through all tabs).
Ctrl+1,2…9 Switch to a specific tab number and put keyboard focus in that conversation. Ctrl+1.
Ctrl+O Undock/dock the selected conversation from/to the tab window.
Esc Close a tab.

Persistent chat

The persistent chat window uses the same shortcuts as the conversation window and IM. (Not available for Office 365 subscriptions.)

Regards

Iain Smith

Lync 2013 – September 2013 Client Updates

Over the weekend Microsoft re-released the Lync 2013 client update to the world. If you remember this is the patched which was pulled from the shelves last week due to a bug in the software update.

As part of the patch, it comprises of three updates which needs to be run in a particular order.

Prerequisites
To install this Lync 2013 update, make sure that the following updates are installed.

Updates for Office first

MSO (KB2727096)
MSORES (KB2817624)
IDCRL (KB2817626)

and then the actual lync client update http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/download/details.aspx?id=40301

These patches come in both the 32bit and 64bit formats based on your Office client deployment.

You can find details of the downloads here http://support.microsoft.com/kb/2825630. Also you will find the KB articles which relate to the downloads.

NOTE: On installation within my lab I was finding the presence between Outlook and Lync not working as expected. At the time of writing im still evaluating if this is a actual issue. Reports are others are seeing this issue as well.

Regards

Iain Smith

Lync 2010/2013 – Dect Headset Review (Sennheiser DW Office, Logitech h820e, Jabra 9470pro)

Hello

The below is a unbiased view on three dect headsets that are all certified and compatible with lync 2013 and Lync 2010.

Using the same metrics/categories as i did with the bluetooth device review, i will score each headset on the following metrics, plus also giving a Pros and Cons synopsis including RRP pricing guide.

The three categories are (Sound, Functionality, Usability)

sennheiser-dw-office-p_575356vbimageshegnwi9470_1_1

(Left to right, Sennheiser DW office, Logitech h820e, Jabra 9470pro)

Dect Headset No1

Sennheiser DW Office

  • Sound – There is one thing to say with all the Sennhieser devices I’ve used and reviewed ALL have the best sound quality across the UC field. Again like the Sennsheiser bluetooth Presence device the sound quality is crystal clear. I’ve been using a DW office now for many months, and as the other two dect headsets have been released i’ve used these other devices for weeks at a time but it must be said its never ever been in my mind to replace the DW office. Simply put, its head and shoulders above the Logitech dect headset for sound. I’ve used this dect device in my daily job accepting calls from SIP connections/PSTN and Mobile and the device has never missed a beat.
  • Functionality – As with all three headsets they all almost mirror each other with basic  functionality with some having nice little extras over the other. For me the Sennheiser has a couple of neat features. One – being that it does not need a power supply to feed it an electric current. Its happy to utilise the USB connection to the headset to power it. (its worth noting this is the only dect headset in the review which can do this). Two – the device can also twin and connect to a desk-phone for better together capabilities. Three – you can twin unto 4 headsets to one base station. (this works well for training purposes etc), Four – it can be connected to your mobile/cell phone as well as a Lync headset.
  • Personally a trick the Sennheiser doesn’t have which would in my opinion would have been the icing on the cake is the lack of ringer in the base unit. More and more companies are not buying new desktop machines with sound cards and speakers these days as they are doing this to cut down on the revenue costs on hardware.If the DW office had the ringer function this would be perfect. I would hate to think one of my clients dismissed this excellent device due to a lack of ringing from the base unit. (note: only the Jabra dect device has a ringer in the base unit, but sadly that lacks in other areas)
  • Usability – I can sit with the headset on for hours and even sometimes i forget im wearing it until I’m reminded :). there is comfort and quality all around this headset. On first opening of the box, you might find the boom arm is very close to your cheek, this is by design and within the box is what Sennheiser calls a cheek deflector which is a little piece of plastic which snaps onto the start of the boom arm and makes the arm move away from your face area. The ear peice is leather and very comfortable to wear.
    For the distance on how far the dect range is (Line of sight 134mtrs, within a office <none line of site> 46mtrs)
  • Unbiased Verdict – the quality is what you would expect from Sennheiser devices. excellent sound and build. I wish it had a ringer in the base until as this would be in my opinion be the perfect all round product. Price point of this dect headset is the most expensive and could be seen as to expensive by some.
  • RRP – £299
  • Link http://en-uk.sennheiser.com/wireless-headset-office-hands-free-dect-dw

The release date is available now

Dect Headset No2

Logitech h820e

  • Sound – When i first saw this headset at the UC Expo in London in March, i couldn’t wait to get one of these devices to test and ultimately use in my day to day job. Oh how disappointed i was with this device when i received it. The sound is just awful, the boom arm and mic is super sensitive to the point where you can’t stop the sensitivity. (this is the same with the USB wired version). You literally have to move the flexible boom arm to a right angle to stop the sound distortion. Even with turning the sound down to the minimum setting within Lync makes no difference.
  • Functionality – Barring the sound issue, functionally the headset has a unique feature of showing the incall presence at the backend of the boom arm, this in itself is a nice feature when the headset is in use, people can see your on a call. As with the Sennheiser device, this dect device also doesn’t have a ringer option within the base unit. When the headset isnt being used you dock the headset vertically back onto the base unit, and there has been a few times where i thought it was docked but due to it being placed into the dock misaligned, it never charged and wasnt good enough to use on my next call.
  • Usability – The headset is really comfy with nice leather big ear pads and leather headband. Logitech have really thought about the comfort of this headset and it is as good if not better than the Sennheiser and Jabra devices . For the distance on how far the dect range is (Line of sight 64mtrs, within a office <none line of site> 31mtrs)
  • Unbiased Verdict – I can imagine the Logitech guys sitting round a meeting room table and saying ‘we have X amount of budget how do we use it…’, i think they spent 85% on comfort, and the remaining on the actual base unit, headset and packaging. If there was one saving grace for the logitech device its the price, its unbelievably cheap for a dect headset. You wont find a cheaper dect headset on the market. Downside is the sound, its a massive issue with this headsets.. Sort the mic sensitivity Logitech!! fix this and you will have a great UC device at a very good price.
  • RRP – £139.
  • Link – http://www.logitech.com/en-gb/product/wireless-headset-mono-h820e-business

Jabra 9470 Pro

  • Sound – The sound from this headset is really good, nothing really to complain about. On using it i hear no white noise and distortion, and the difference between the Pro 9470 and the Sennheiser DW office is the DW’s sound is more digital and clear. That said if id bought the Pro 9470 i would be happy to use it day to day.
  • Functionality – In terms of design of both the base unit and headset are both nice. i like the base unit lcd touch display which enables you to flip connections from desktop to bluetooth/mobile phone. ALSO it has the ringer which i really like and one i see customers asking more and more for. As for the headset it fits nice with large leather ear pads, and it also feels light on your head.
  • Usability – I used the Pro 9470 device of choice before i received the DW office. If the sound was just a little bit clearer i would be hard pressed to choose between these devices. I cant emphasise enough about the ringer feature and how useful it is.
  • Unbiased Verdict – This is a really good bit of kit, and one i would recommend to a client. There is nothing i can fault.
  • Overall Verdict

This is a relativity simple verdict, and if you see this as gold, silver and bronze awards. In third place is the logitech h820e this is because of its poor sound offering. In a joint first place is the Jabra Pro 9470 and the Sennheiser DW office. Reason why i cant make a distinction between these devices is due to the following. For the Jabra Pro, i cant fault the device in anyway, i like the base ringer option, and the base lcd touch display. Plus the device is £100 cheaper than the sennheiser DW office. For the Sennheiser DW Office I can’t get away from the quality sound and hardware. Also with the ability to add additional headsets to the base units, its perfect for training purposes. Downside for me is the price, you have to have deep pockets to afford a few of these if you are a customer.

– If you are a person who wants the best sound quality then in my opinion the Sennheiser DW Office is the best

– If you are a person on a limited budget and aren’t bothered by having the boom arm at a right angle. The Logitech is a good match

– If you are a person who wants a comfort fit with good sound quality and a long range of connectivity then the Jabra Pro 9470 is the one

Thanks for reading.

Regards

Iain Smith

Lync 2013 – Adding QOS to Lync Servers, Lync Clients and Lync Phone Editions

Evening all

Not so much a black art to enable QOS for Lync 2013, but out on the internet there is to be honest alot of rubbish how NOT to do it.

In this blog post is the correct way to implement QOS for Lync 2013.

All in all its not a difficult job to undertake but you do have to make sure all your ports are correct it simply wont work.

Like many other blog post i will break this down into step by step instructions as a guide to help you along your way.

Information you might find useful can be found here from Microsoft. Personally i think this is more of a hinderance than a help.QoS on Lync 2013

ok lets start with basics which are needed for QOS.

PORT RANGES

Before starting you need to decide on the port ranges you are going to deploy as part of the QOS settings. Whatever you decide ensure these ports arent being used by other areas within your business.

For this blog, im going to use the standard port which are documented by Microsoft.Also as part of this blog guide i will also use the recommended DSCP setting again by Microsoft.

Media Type Classification
Queuing and Dropping Notes
Audio EF (DSCP 46) Priority Queue Low loss, low latency, low jitter, assured bandwidth (BW)
Video AF41 (DSCP 34) BW Queue + DSCP WRED Pair with WAN Bandwidth Policies on constrained links
SIP Signalling CS3 (DSCP 24) BW Queue Class 4. Low drop priority

Its also worth noting that whatever DSCP classification you choose needs to be mirrored on your core network and switches.

Scenario Starting port Ending port
Client audio 20000 20199
Client video 20200 20399
Client application sharing 20400 20599
Client File Transfer 20600 20799
Client Media 20800 20999
Server application sharing 40800 41000
Server audio 49000 55000
Server video 57000 60000

Now onto Step 2

Lync 2013 Powershell to add the Port ranges. This is whats known in the Lync world as Inband Provisioning.

Im going to add these items piecemeal into the sections relevant to lync, starting with the Lync Server estate

For me this will be my Lync Standard Edition. However for you, you need to add this to each of your Lync Servers (FE’s, Director’s, Etc)

For the Lync Pool enter the following powershell command within the Lync Management Shell.

Set-CsConferenceServer -Identity lyncse2.northernlync.local -AppSharingPortStart 40800 -AppSharingPortCount 200

Set-CsConferenceServer -Identity lyncse2.northernlync.local -AudioPortStart 49000 -AudioPortCount 6000

Set-CsConferenceServer -Identity lyncse2.northernlync.local -VideoPortStart 57000 -VideoPortCount 3000

——————- Now for the Application Servers————————-

Set-CsApplicationServer -Identity lyncse2.northernlync.local -AppSharingPortStart 40800 -AppSharingPortCount 200

Set-CsApplicationServer -Identity lyncse2.northernlync.local -AudioPortStart 49000 -AudioPortCount 6000

Set-CsApplicationServer -Identity lyncse2.northernlync.local -VideoPortStart 57000 -VideoPortCount 3000

NOTE: Change the -identity to the Pool name of your server

Next the powershell commands are for the Lync Client to communicate using QOS using GPO (ensure you add the same GPO port ranges to each Lync client machine)

Set-CsConferencingConfiguration -ClientAudioPort 20000 -ClientAudioPortRange 199 -ClientVideoPort 20200 -ClientVideoPortRange 199 -ClientAppSharingPort 20400 -ClientAppSharingPortRange 199 -ClientFileTransferPort 20600 -ClientFileTransferPortRange 199 -ClientMediaPort 20800 -ClientMediaPortRange 199

then again enable it via powershell

Set-CsConferencingConfiguration -ClientMediaPortRangeEnabled $True

and last up now for the in band provision for the Lync Phone Edition

Set-CsUCPhoneConfiguration -identity global -VoiceDiffServTag 46

STEP 3 – Adding group polices onto the Windows Machines and the Lync Servers

this is a simple but time consuming piece (And take note, ensure you get it correct as it will stop QOS from working if there is an error)

Lync Server GP First (Also ensure if your running separate Mediation and SBA gateways you will also need to ensure you add the GP’s onto them)

Audio & Video entries for the Lync Servers inc mediation, SBA’s using GPO on the servers

Audio: DSCP 46 for all applications on source TCP/UDP ports 49000:55000

Video: DSCP 34 for all applications on source TCP/UDP ports 57000:60000

For Edge Servers (if applicable), again using GPO

Client audio:   DSCP 46 for MediaRelaySvc.exe on destination TCP/UDP ports 20000:20199

Client video:  DSCP 34 for MediaRelaySvc.exe on destination TCP/UDP ports 20200:20399

Server audio:  DSCP 46 for MediaRelaySvc.exe on destination TCP/UDP ports 49000:55000

Server video: DSCP 34 for MediaRelaySvc.exe on destination TCP/UDP ports 57000:60000

Audio & Video Entries for the Windows client. Pass this information onto your network/deployment team to push the GPO out to all the windows clients

Audio: DSCP 46 for lync.exe on source TCP/UDP ports 20000:20199

Video: DSCP 34 for lync.exe on source TCP/UDP ports 20200:20399

Complete

– I would now recommend running wireshark from the Windows machines running Lync 2013, and also all the Lync Servers to ensure the packets are being marked. Also once you’ve confirmed this is working, do a audio call (peer to peer) and check QOS from both ends to ensure the core switches/routers are allowing the QOS markings and not dropping them on-route. Then do a Audio/Video call and so on until you’ve checked scenarios are working with QOS.

So at the end to summarise, you should have the following

Running Get-CSService -ApplicationServer & Get-CSService -ConferencingServer  will tell you the configured ports on the servers. Now on each of your Lync servers, these ranges need to match what you entered into the GPO setting on the servers.

— Lync Clients

Running get-CSConferencingConfiguration will tell you the port ranges the Lync Clients need to communicate on. Now ensure each Lync Client Machines GPO matches the port range details from the get-CS command.

Thanks Iain Smith

Lync 2013 – Sennheiser Presence UC Full Review

Evening All

On the 1st August we will see the introduction of the Sennheiser UC Presence bluetooth device. Although ive had a beta version of this product since March, two weeks ago Sennheiser sent me a official rtm version of the headset. On face value there seems to be nothing cosmetically different from the previous version i was using, however for those reading my previous ‘bluetooth headset’ review i stated that i found the headset perfect and clear on audio but found the device awkward to wear for long periods of time. With this in mind when i received the new rtm version i was keen to retry and test the new device.

The first thing which was different from the beta i got was that within the box there was numerous ear pieces and ear loops of different sizes. once I got settled on the one that fitted my ear and ear cannel i set about giving the device a run through it paces. Below is the results and synopsis of my findings.

Audio Quality

As stated in the other blog post the audio from this device and in truth all optimised Sennheiser devices for Lync the audio is exceptional. I think this is due to the digital mics within the headset which other vendors bluetooth options dont have.

I have the UC Presence linked up with Lync and with my mobile phone and from both items the audio is excellent.

Headset Comfort Factor

With the correct ear pieces in place i have worn and used the UC Presence for the last 2 weeks full time with making an asserted effort to keep it on my ear even when im not expecting a call. I have to say it became second nature and felt natural and comfortable. If you purchase one of these headsets when they become available be sure that you test each ear and loop piece options correctly.

Battery life

On full charge the battery life states 10 hours of talk time. I usually spend a couple of hours a day minimum on calls each day, and last week in 5 days i put the device on charge on the friday morning for 30 minutes and at this moment its still going without the need for charging.

Bluetooth Connection Distance

The literature stats 25mtrs from the mini bluetooth usb dongle, which in this day and age i think is enough but that said the latest Jabra Motion has a 125mtr range so you would think a 100mtr difference is massive so i did a litmus test against both devices on the distance.

My findings were that the Sennheiser was getting a distance around 22mtrs away then the voice was dropping its audio. whereas the Jabra Motions alleged 125mtrs is massively over stated in my test. I found that at best on the two tests i did, the motion got to 33mtrs away but the audio became ‘blocky’ and distorted at 27mtrs. (its worth noting that my tests were carried out within a business organisation).

Synopsis

The UC Presence is a really well made device, with audio which hands down beats the rest of the field in my opinion. At the time of writing im unsure of the exact price point but i would expect around £149rrp. If i was asked by my clients which bluetooth device i would recommend the UC Presence right up there at the top of my list. If there was any negativity from me it would be i do like the auto answer option that is available on the other vendors bluetooth device which the Sennheiser UC Presence doesn’t have.

All in all im really pleased with the device and its fair to say that the UC Presence is my mobile device of choice at the moment.

Regards

Iain Smith

Lync 2013 – August Lync client Update .1504

Hello All

Yesterday Microsoft released a new Lync client update as part of the windows update. (its also available via a download here. http://support.microsoft.com/kb/2817621 there doesn’t seem to be much of information about the update apart from in also has the other patches within it..

The issue this patch is fixing is

– After you wake up the computer from hibernation mode, Lync 2013 becomes very slow and unusable.

Ive been running the update for a day now with no issues.

Regards

Iain Smith

 

Lync 2013 – Configuration Guide for using JetNEXUS Appliance as Reverse Proxy

Hello

A couple of weeks ago i created a detailed blog about life after TMG and what offerings there are in the way of a reverse proxy for Lync going forward. In that blog posting i mentioned IIS AAR and KEMP as options, but failed to mention JetNEXUS. Sorry JetNexus. !! So for that reason as a small ‘sorry’ ive given headspace to building one of their appliance’s in my lab to use as a RP against Lync 2013.

Also the people in the UK who are unsure on supportability of other vendor appliances I can confirm that JetNEXUS are primary based within UK with their HQ in Buckinghamshire.

Thanks to Gary Christie for supplying me with the license and details needed.

as usual the below is the lowdown on my Lab environment for the blog

DC = Win2008r2, AD level 2008r2

Lync 2013 SE, running on Windows2012

Windows 7, running the Lync 2013 Client

Peripheral devices for testing iphone 5 running IOS7beta5, Windows Phone 8

STEP 1 – creating the Virtual Jet Appliance. For this i, running the HyperV version of the Appliance

In your Hyper-V Manager, client right click on the server and select > Import Virtual Machine

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Once you’ve selected the import option goto the Folder containing the ALB-X subfolders which in my case is C:\Users\SMITIAI\Downloads\jetNEXUS ALB-X VA\ ****NOTE: if you dont unpack the folder first you wont find the VMs!

next through the screen until you get to the import type screen. At this point Click “Copy the virtual machine (create a new unique ID)”

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‘Next’ through the rest of the screens until you can select the finish button.

Once your Jet appliance is import select to connect and start the VM

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STEP 2 – Configuration of IP’s base config

The simplest way to configure the initial install is to use the Jet Discovery software which comes with the appliance. Simply open the .exe and it will find your running appliance (Jdiscover.exe is in the same folder as the VM’s and at the time of writing the version is 3.6.1)

****Just to point out something completely bizarre at this point. On start up of the appliance it automatically selects an IP address from DHCP, which in my case it did find DHCP and subsequently associated itself and IP of xxx.xxx.1.204 which was/is the same IP to which my Lync 2013 SE was/is running on.!!?? odd. for me to get round this i had to down the SE to allow the appliance to finish starting up then i could change the IP on the appliance.. Look out for this little gotcha

Back to running the .exe, as stated it will find the Rp automatically and at this point you can add the necessary changes to the base config

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once you’ve applied the required settings, right hand click and select connect to webportal

At this point the installation is complete. Next step is the RP configuration

STEP 3 – Setting up the RP as a Lync Reverse Proxy

Navigate to the IP address you specified PLUS the :PORTNUMBER 27376 ie: 192.168.1.223:27376

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then apply the username and password (default is admin, password is jetnexus)

you will then jump into the jetnexus portal. The first thing im going to do in the portal is to update the password into a more sensible one. to do this you need to navigate to configure, security on the left hand pane

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now onto further config work. Going to the Setup>appliance on the left hand pane i want to make sure my IP address for the RP is attached to the eth0 port.

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If you did need to make any changes you just double click into the IP, Subnet etc to amend. Nice feature! (dont forgot to press update)

Im now going to add the default gateway into the RP

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At this point nothing to taxing has taken place, so onto loading a jetpack. <A jetpack is a prebuilt configuration pack which you can get for Lync Frontend load balancing, Lync edge load balancing (both internal and External), exchange 2010, 2013 load balancing and last of all Lync Reverse Proxy )

Now to add the jet pack to my RP. to do this navigate to advance Software update. Of course you will have needed to created/download a jetpack first!.

I’m going to use the standard Lync RP jetpack then tweak to suit my needs

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Now onto tweaking the appliance for my Lync environment

back to setup and IP services

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lets now move onto importing our SSL cert to bind to the RP

to do this you need to navigate to the configure, then SSL

select import and selct your cert.

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now lets bind the cert to the RP. now back to the setup, Ipservices and then select the actions TAB, then select SSL and use the dropdown to add your cert

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now back to look and check your connection

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and Finish

I must say the easiest of all the Reverse Proxy Appliances to set up for Lync. Using the LyncRP template was a breeze. Well done JetNexus, it was a simple setup and one i would recommend in the future.

Regards

Iain Smith