Friday, 01 January 2021 22:51

Review - Poly Elara 60W and Voyager Focus UC bring desktop telephony to your mobile device

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Every now and then a piece of kit comes along that's entertainingly clever, solving a problem you didn't know you had. In this case, it’s Poly’s desktop station for mobile phones, the Elara 60W, which transforms your phone into your own PABX-style reception console or conference phone.

Those who have worked in corporate IT for any time will have witnessed the evolution of the office reception phone. It’s been a core component of the office telephone system, usually, a proprietary handset belonging to a specific PABX - private automatic branch exchange - for decades and decades.

Yet, it suffered two efficiency issues that bosses hated. The first is holding the phone receiver to your head inhibits your ability to type and do other activities. No problem; this was solved by connecting a headset to the desk phone. This led to the second problem, the phone was still all tied to a single physical location. If you want your receptionist to be filing in the back office between calls, you’re going to need them to run back to answer calls before the caller gives up. Wireless headsets helped to some degree, but while bosses wanted to maximise the receptionist’s workload they didn’t necessarily want to pay for it. Thus some wireless headsets would allow you to speak on the phone and walk around, but couldn’t answer incoming calls without the extra cost of a phone lifter than quite literally physically lifted the handset off the hook and put it back down again at the end of a call, all from the press of a button.

At this point, the receptionist now has a desk phone with a lifter and a wireless headset but the organisation has moved on. Like on-premises servers, phone system tech has moved to the cloud. Instead of a proprietary desk phone, today’s modern businesses will use a VoIP platform with softphones and smartphone apps.

Now you can run your business from your mobile and be productive wherever you are and in the most minimal settings. It’s certainly possible to use your mobile speaker for conference calls, with your whole team hunched around the desk trying to speak and hear. You can also walk around the office taking important phone calls using cheap earbuds and have your potential customer ask you to repeat yourself.

Moving forwards with the cloud shouldn't require you to compromise the quality of enterprise-grade voice clarity you previously enjoyed. This is where the Elara 60 comes in, coupled with a Poly headset; it’s a device that all at once seems the fusion of today’s VoIP tech with yesteryear’s desk phone consoles. It’s a device that all at once makes sense but yet is novel and unanticipated. It is the missing link for office workers who depend on their phone - when voice is the key application - and unobtrusively enhances your productivity and phone utility.

The Elara 60 provides a console-style device that pairs with your smartphone to receive and make calls. It provides one-button Microsoft Teams integration, it charges your smartphone and headset while you work and it gives you crisp microphone input and speaker audio output. It even doubles as a music player so you can enjoy your own music in-between calls. The unit includes a stand to hold your phone, supporting portrait and landscape, and it is this stand which charges the phone wirelessly. It has a range of different angles to help keep your eyes on the action when needed.

iTWire tested the Elara 60 along with Poly's Voyager Focus UC headset, connected to our own smartphone. The pairing was simple, with the on-screen display leading us through the process. The phone rested and recharged easily, as did the headset. While making calls I could walk around in comfort, using either the phone itself or the Elara. I could switch from headset to the Elara’s speaker and back and forth with ease. The Elara can be paired to eight devices at the same time, allowing you to make or take calls from your phone, tablet, laptop or any other device you have, as the situation demands.

At the same time, the Voyager Focus UC was the perfect headset for work (or play), with comfortable leatherette ear cushions, background noise cancelling and precision-tuned triple microphones. You can choose your own headset.

Both devices benefit from the strong audio expertise of the Polycom and Plantronics heritage of the Poly brand.

For those who have only worked with softphone clients and smartphone apps, this may be a unique twist that enhances your workflow in ways you had not previously imagined. However, for those coming from a typical corporate phone background the Elara, and a Poly wireless headset, brings a fusion of old-world enterprise-grade tech and modern mobility and freedom. It may even be the solution that helps your sticklers for desk phones finally leave their old PABX behind and allow you to move your telephony into the cloud.

You can buy the Elara 60W with or without a headset, in various combinations as per Poly’s web site. The Voyager Focus UC, pictured below, is the headset iTWire used.

 

voyager focus uc in stand path 0

 

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David M Williams

David has been computing since 1984 where he instantly gravitated to the family Commodore 64. He completed a Bachelor of Computer Science degree from 1990 to 1992, commencing full-time employment as a systems analyst at the end of that year. David subsequently worked as a UNIX Systems Manager, Asia-Pacific technical specialist for an international software company, Business Analyst, IT Manager, and other roles. David has been the Chief Information Officer for national public companies since 2007, delivering IT knowledge and business acumen, seeking to transform the industries within which he works. David is also involved in the user group community, the Australian Computer Society technical advisory boards, and education.

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