Author Archive

Review: Yealink UVC86 PTZ Camera

October 24th, 2022 No comments

After playing around with Yealink’s cool UVC86 PTZ camera via Microsoft Teams for many weeks, I created this review video to document my thoughts on it. Check it out and let me know your thoughts and experience with this device.

Ethics Statement: Companies may send software, hardware, or other products or samples to me in order for me to review such samples and determine whether I will provide a review of the product on I do not accept any samples on any preconditions, such as, that I will agree to provide a review simply because the company sent me a sample, or that I will only provide a positive review. Please note that companies may provide these samples before the product is commercially available, in which case, I may agree to an embargo with the company or its PR firm. This means I agree not to publish the review or associated news until a given time.

Review: Yealink VC210 Collaboration Bar

June 5th, 2020 No comments

I had the opportunity lately to play with one of these in my office. Check out the video below to see my thoughts on this new form factor solution for Microsoft Teams. This is my first attempt at a video review.

Ethics Statement: Companies may send software, hardware, or other products or samples to me in order for me to review such samples and determine whether I will provide a review of the product on I do not accept any samples on any preconditions, such as, that I will agree to provide a review simply because the company sent me a sample, or that I will only provide a positive review. Please note that companies may provide these samples before the product is commercially available, in which case, I may agree to an embargo with the company or its PR firm. This means I agree not to publish the review or associated news until a given time.

Changelog: New-MtrWallpaper

January 19th, 2020 No comments

This is the changelog page for New-MtrWallpaper – Automatically Change Wallpaper on Teams Room System Every Day. You will find a complete list of released versions, their dates, and the features and issues addressed in each. Please refer to the script’s main page for more information including download links, installation details, and more.

v1.1 – 01-25-2020

  1. Initial version
Categories: Microsoft Teams Tags:

New-MtrWallpaper – Automatically Change Wallpaper on Teams Room System Every Day

January 19th, 2020 5 comments


In playing with setting a custom wallpaper on some Microsoft Teams Room (MTR) systems, I wondered how hard it would be to have a new wallpaper everyday. I looked up the official documentation, as well as chatted with Eric Marsi (@EricMarsi) about how custom wallpaper is handled on MTRs. Eric has written an article, Configuring Custom Themes for Microsoft Teams/Skype Room Systems, on the basics of how to set a custom theme for an MTR, which includes a custom wallpaper. Check out his article. My article focuses on using the same core process, but automating it and having it run daily, randomly picking a new wallpaper each day.

My first theory was to just copy a wallpaper and generic SkypeSettings.xml file to the folder each day, then send a reboot command to the computer to implement the change. I had it all figured out, but then a coincidence made life easier. I was working at my PC on an unrelated project late one night (about 2:30am), when I heard the Rally camera behind me start it’s initialization process. When I checked, the Intel Nuc that serves as the compute for my Logitech Tap, was rebooting. I added “figure out what’s wrong with the Tap” to my task list. Anyways, next night, not having gotten that far down my task list yet, same thing happened, and I noticed it was at the exact same time. Time to roll up my sleeves. What I determined was there was a scheduled task called ‘NightlyReboot’ that runs at 2:00AM daily on MTRs. Drilling down, I discovered that a BUNCH of PowerShell scripts run as a result, including some that do Windows Updates, and some routine cleanup. At the end of this ~30 minute process was a Restart-Computer -Force command. I figured that makes life easier for my wallpaper idea. So, I came up with a function that looks into a folder full of wallpaper .jpg files, randomly selects one, and copies it to the appropriate folder. Next, the script writes a new XML file that includes ONLY the elements required for a custom theme. That’s all that’s done. I thought about just adding my function to one of these existing PowerShell scripts, but then opted not to do that to ensure it survives any upgrades and updates to the MTR software. The script is executed daily with a dedicated scheduled task. We then leverage the daily reboot that’s already in place to implement the changes. Presto – daily wallpaper change. I think I spent more time looking for cool wallpaper images than writing the code. One of my favorites is the Spy vs. Spy image shown above on one of the MTRs in my home office.

There is nothing fancy about my method, and it could easily be customized to use, say, an XML file full of dates and wallpaper names to use specific wallpaper images on certain days, such as holidays or company events and announcements.


Log onto the MTR as admin

Life is much easier if you use RDP to do all of this. RDP isn’t enabled by default on MTRs, but just enabling it Windows 10 is straight forward. Click ‘Settings’ on the touch screen, enter the password, then go to Windows settings. Enter the admin password and you’re in Windows 10. A quick search for ‘remote desktop’ gets you there. Everything configured here is done so while logged in as Admin.

Create folder

  • Open Windows Explorer and navigate to ‘C:\Users\Skype\AppData\Local\Packages\Microsoft.SkypeRoomSystem_8wekyb3d8bbwe\LocalState’. Create a folder there called ‘Wallpapers’.

Copy script to the Wallpapers folder.

  • Download the New-MtrWallpaper.ps1 script file from the link below, and copy it to the folder created above.

Upload wallpaper images

  • Copy all of your wallpaper files to that same folder. The script is written for .jpg files. You should now have a folder with the script and wallpapers in it.

Create scheduled task

Open Task Scheduler

  • Navigate to Task Scheduler Library>Microsoft>Skype
  • Create a new Basic Task called ‘Rotate Wallpaper’

On the ‘General’ tab:

  • Ensure that the admin account is specified under ‘When running the task, use the following user account’.
  • Select ‘Run whether user is logged on or not’
  • Select ‘Run with highest privileges’

On the ‘Triggers’ tab, create a trigger:

  • ‘Begin the task’ set to ‘On a schedule’
  • Set the ‘Settings’ to ‘Daily’
  • Set the time to any time before 2:00am. I use 10:15:00 PM. Set the recurrence to every 1 days (or whatever schedule you’d like, keeping in mind that the scheduled reboot only happens once a day).
  • All other check boxes except ‘Enabled’ should NOT be checked.

On the ‘Actions’ tab:

  • Set ‘Action’ to ‘Start a program’.
  • For Program/script, use ‘Powershell’.
  • For ‘Add arguments (optional)’, paste the following single line:

-NoProfile -ExecutionPolicy bypass -file C:\Users\Skype\AppData\Local\Packages\Microsoft.SkypeRoomSystem_8wekyb3d8bbwe\LocalState\Wallpapers\New-MtrWallpaper.ps1

  • For ‘Start in (optional), paste the following single line:


On the ‘Conditions’ tab

  • Leave all blank except the first two under ‘Power’.

On the ‘Settings’ tab:

  • Select ‘Allow task to be run on demand’
  • Select ‘Stop the task if it runs longer than 1 hour’
  • Select ‘If the running task does not end when requested, force it to stop’.

Save the task, entering the password for the admin account when prompted. Now, right-click the task in the list, and select ‘Run’. Wait a few seconds and refresh, and the ‘Last Run Result’ field should say ‘The operation completed successfully. (0x0)’. Verify that both the SkypeSettings.xml and wallpaper.jpg now exist in the ‘C:\Users\Skype\AppData\Local\Packages\Microsoft.SkypeRoomSystem_8wekyb3d8bbwe\LocalState’ folder. Restart Windows. The MTR will boot accordingly, and you’ll have a new wallpaper. If you look into that folder now, the XML and wallpaper files will no longer be there.

Known Issues

There is a strange occurrence where I’ve manually run the script, then manually rebooted one of my MTRs and the new wallpaper wasn’t incorporated. However, every time the schedule task runs, and the MTR restarts as part of its nightly maintenance, it’s worked fine.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q. What resolution do my wallpaper files need to be?

A. They need to be exactly 3840×1080, regardless of whether you have a single or dual screen Teams Room System.

Q. How many wallpaper images can I have?

A. As many as you like, keeping in mind that the more you have, the less likely you’ll have consecutive days with the same image.

Q. Does this impact performance?

A. This script does NOT impact performance in any way. It can easily run while the MTR is connected to a meeting. The reboot occurs regardless, so no added impact there.


This script is available in my GitHub repo at Feel free to grab it from there, and contribute any updates or improvements.

If you’re looking for wallpaper, Bing search yields a ton of them.


See the changelog for information on what’s changed/included in each version.

Review: Yealink T55A Phone for Microsoft Teams

November 22nd, 2019 No comments


The Yealink T55A is designed as a mid-level Teams compatible endpoint. It’s unobtrusive 4.3″ 480 x 272 pixel screen paired with simple overall design is a great device for the Teams enabled organization. I recently added one in my home office and have had a chance to put it through its paces during my normal work day. The device itself has a simple key layout, with the typical 11 digit keypad, voicemail, headset, mute, speakerphone and volume buttons.

Setup and login

Nothing complicated about setting up this device. Install the stand, handset & cord, and plug the Ethernet cable into a POE port. No POE? Use a standard power adapter or POE injector. Pretty straightforward. As soon as the device was plugged into my POE switch, it powered right up. We get the typical Teams login prompt. In my case, I also use Cisco’s Duo for 2FA, and the Duo options did show up correctly on the screen. If you’re going to use a headset, there is a USB port for a wired headset, and the device supports Bluetooth as well. A GB network pass-through port is also on the device.


The T55A has the Company Portal for enrollment via InTune. When I first booted the phone, it went into the Company Portal screen to check for enrollment. As I don’t use InTune, I manually configured any preferences from the screen itself through the intuitive interface.

Updating the firmware was straightforward enough using the device’s built-in web admin feature. But admittedly took a few minutes. The IP address isn’t listed on the network settings screen, where one would first look. It’s listed on the ‘about’ screen (‘Phone Settings>About’, not to be confused with the ‘about’ screen that shows Teams specific version info. Once I found the address, I used a web browser on my PC to access the device’s web interface.

I upgraded the firmware when I first received the device, and then again recently as I noticed a new version ( available. Recent firmware updates have added support for Hybrid configuration, where the device can be logged into a SIP solution and Teams at the same time. This is useful in migration scenarios. Other features added include dark mode (yay!), support for more phone policies, and importantly, support for use as a Common Area Phone (CAP). When configured as a CAP, voicemail, meetings and locking are not available. Use as a CAP makes this device an even more viable solution for organizations that want a common area phone that’s a bit nicer than some other offerings. While I didn’t need that feature, I always try to run the latest version of any firmware just to be current. Both times I upgraded the firmware were uneventful, and the device updated successfully, then rebooted. The web interface has a considerable number of settings and options, including importing configuration file, Bluetooth, power settings, logging, and security. Power settings were the only real setting that caused me some frustration. The phone has idle timeout settings, which cause the screen to timeout and shut off. I’ve never been a fan of that. I like to have the screen on all the time – otherwise it just looks like a dead phone until you push a button the device, lift the handset, receive a call, or touch the screen. I like to see the time/date on the phone, and the screen saver does move the time and date around the screen while it’s on. There is apparently no set of settings that allow for the screen to always be on. The longest I was able to configure was 4 hours of idle.

The screen size is sufficient for pretty much everything you need to do on a standard Teams phone, including reading the transcription of voicemail messages. The on-screen keyboard is pretty small, but usable even for my big meat hook hands. I was able to enter in passwords and other details with only the occasional backspace required. Other typical options on the main calls screen include parked call pickup, searching, meetings, voicemail.


Simple to set up and use

Great sound via handset and speakerphone

Web interface offers a plethora of options


Power Saving feature cannot be disabled – idle timeout maxes to 4 hours


The phone works great. It doesn’t take a lot of desktop real estate and the screen is easy to read. It’s quick and easy to deploy. It’s nothing fancy, but doesn’t look or feel cheap, either. Great HD sound makes it easy to hear others on a call, and easy for them to hear you. As a phone for the average worker, the T55A is a great fit. The fact it supports both the Skype for Business or Teams firmware gives an organization some flexibility about rolling them out during a migration.

Ethics Statement: Companies may send software, hardware, or other products or samples to me in order for me to review such samples and determine whether I will provide a review of the product on I do not accept any samples on any preconditions, such as, that I will agree to provide a review simply because the company sent me a sample, or that I will only provide a positive review. Please note that companies may provide these samples before the product is commercially available, in which case, I may agree to an embargo with the company or its PR firm. This means I agree not to publish the review or associated news until a given time.

Review: Poly Elara 60 WS Mobile Phone Station

November 20th, 2019 No comments

Poly Elara 60Mobile first. We’ve all heard the buzz phrase, right? In reality, a LOT more people are working on the go – at least part of their work day. That means staying connected via a mobile device. With Microsoft Teams, that’s not an issue, as the mobile client is quite solid. But what about when we’re at our desk? Well, you can continue to use your mobile device as a communications hub, thanks to a new device form factor from Poly. Poly has released the Elara 60 series of devices that put your mobile device at the center of your calls – even when in your office. Recently, I received the Poly Elara 60 WS mobile phone station for review. MSRP for the version that includes the Voyager Focus UC headset is $784.95. If you have the Voyager Focus UC headset already, you can buy a version without the headset, MSRP $494.95, and pair it the Elara 60 for use there. Other supported headsets include the Blackwire series. More about that later. It’s also available with a handset as the Elara 60 WSH.

The Elara 60 pairs via Bluetooth to both your mobile device and the headset, with the headset already paired at the factory. It also charges both devices.

Don’t have/want a wireless headset? The version of the Elara 60 without a headset includes an additional port on the back for either a wired headset like the aforementioned Blackwire series, or the optional corded handset.

One of the great features of this device is that it has built-in wireless charging, and works whether your device is in the cradle horizontally or vertically. It works with many different cases on the phone. The cradle is adjustable for different viewing angle, and to allow you to properly frame your camera video.  A notch at the bottom allows for wired charging if your device doesn’t support wireless charging, or wireless doesn’t work with your particular case attached. The Elara 60 sports a USB port on the back of the device for wired charging.

This product was geared towards the Teams user wanting to use their mobile device running Teams as their primary communications platform. In reality, you could probably use any voice app with the Elara 60, such as Zoom, RingCentral, 8×8, Cisco Webex Teams, Skype for Business, GoToMeeting, etc.. In fact, I made and received calls via consumer Skype using my iPhone XS Max in the Elara 60 – both with the speakerphone, and the headset. But the big Teams button on the front makes it clear – this is a Teams device.

The Voyager Focus UC headset is nice. Active noise cancellation works great, music sounds very good, and built-in sensors can tell when you put it on, take it off, and move the boom into position. These are real handy, as you can configure it to auto answer calls or open the media player when donning it. Call and media controls are also located on the headset.

A dedicated Teams button launches the Teams app on the device, regardless of whether the phone is actually on the cradle, and stay lit as long as the Teams app is running. Teams opens to the Calls screen using this method. It’s important to note, though, that the phone must be unlocked for this feature, as well as when using the Elara 60 to make outbound Teams calls. The phone does not need to be unlocked to receive Teams calls, or to make outbound cell calls using the Elara 60. The unit allows for making/taking calls either via speakerphone or the headset, and the user can switch modes during calls by merely selecting the speakerphone or headset buttons on the Elara 60 keypad or by simply putting on the headset. Information about a called or calling contact is shows on the Elara 60’s display, as are battery level, time and date, and whether the mobile device is connected and charging. Three multi-function buttons provide other features, such as accessing the settings, starting the media player app, and disconnecting the current call.

A nice feature in this device is the media control for playing music. Buttons on the headset as well as multi-function buttons control playing music via speaker or headset. Track info is displayed nicely on the screen, as are options to skip to the previous or next tracks, or pause. A nice touch is that just like calls, you can switch between speaker and headset on the fly while listening to music. While listening to a track via speaker, a call came in – the music quickly faded away so I could take the call. I put on the headset and moved the boom into position and the call was automatically answered. When the call was completed, music began playing again automatically – but on the headphones because I still had them on – that was nice.

Managing the device takes two apps. The first is the Elara 60 app which can configure some settings such as firmware updates, what happens when you put the headset on, when to automatically start the Teams app (when connecting, when charging, etc.), and a link to the PLT Hub app (if installed). PLT Hub is geared for configuring the headset itself. Both of the apps are available at

PLT Hub supports the following settings:

  • Answering Call Alert
  • Caller ID
  • “Mute Off” Alert
  • Mute Reminder
  • Notification Tones
  • Online Indicator
  • Second Incoming Call
  • Ringtone
  • Sidetone
  • Volume Level Tones
  • Headset Sensors
  • Extended Range Mode (PC)
  • HD Voice
  • Streaming Audio
  • Anti-Startle (G616)
  • Noise Exposure

The app has a diagram that shows all of the various controls found on the headset, including call control, media, noise cancelling, Bluetooth, etc. as well as FAQs. A neat feature in the app is a “find my headset” feature which causes the headset to emit a tone for easy locating. One thing that is required is that you have to pair the headset to your mobile device to change any of the settings in the app.

The Elara isn’t cheap, and the fact that it’s not tied to a specific system could make it an attractive theft target. Like many mobile products, it supports a Kensington lock (not included) for security.


Unboxing and setup is very simple. Take it out, plug it in, install the Elara app from the appropriate app store, pair it via Bluetooth, and drop your phone on onto the cradle to the right of the display/keypad. Put the optional  active noise cancelling stereo headset onto the charging port at the top and you’re off and running. It really can’t get easier than that.


Quick, fast, and very easy to use. Setup was a breeze. Not complicated at all.

Headset works even with mobile (non Teams) calls. It automatically answers the call when you move the mic boom down. Also works great for music.

Noise cancelling was effective

Screen is clear and easy to read

Can be managed centrally at the enterprise level using the optional Plantronics Manager Pro SaaS offering.

Can use other apps with speaker phone and headset


Requires the phone to be unlocked to make outbound calls in Teams. That’s not a requirement of the Elara, per se – but of the phone, and for obvious reasons.



I found this to be great device for the target audience. Lots of nice features that are clear and easy to use. The screen is quite clear, as is the audio quality in the headphones. The speaker on the device isn’t meant for concert audio, but is quite adequate for calls and most music at moderate volume. I found myself using the headset quite a bit, essentially since just picking it up and putting it on answers a call. It uses Bluetooth 4.2, so its 30 foot range was fine for the room I’m in. It’s comfortable to wear and people I was talking to could hear me clearly. Wireless charging of my device while I’m using it and walking around is a clear advantage, especially since it works horizontally if I’m looking at shared media in a call. The fact that I can use one device for my calls, yet stay charged, listen to music while blocking ambient noise, is cool. No need for separate desktop phone and phone charging. Let one device provide both, with all of these great added features.

Ethics Statement: Companies may send software, hardware, or other products or samples to me in order for me to review such samples and determine whether I will provide a review of the product on I do not accept any samples on any preconditions, such as, that I will agree to provide a review simply because the company sent me a sample, or that I will only provide a positive review. Please note that companies may provide these samples before the product is commercially available, in which case, I may agree to an embargo with the company or its PR firm. This means I agree not to publish the review or associated news until a given time.

Set-CsFeatures.ps1 – Now With Support for Skype for Business Server 2019 and Windows Server 2019!

September 17th, 2018 7 comments


I’m happy to reach another major milestone for the Set-CsFeatures.ps1 script today, after many weeks of work. This PowerShell script, which installs prerequisites and post installation configuration and tools for Lync Server and Skype for Business Server, now adds support for a few new things. This includes a new version of Skype for Business Server, as well as another operating system. The major changes are listed below. See the full list of changes in the changelog (link at the bottom of this article). Having said all of that, let’s look at all the exciting stuff…

Support for Skype for Business 2019

The script will now install the prerequisites for Skype for Business Server 2019 roles, including front-end, mediation, and edge. “But Pat”, you say – “Skype for Business 2019 isn’t even out yet”. This is true. This script adds the support so that you can hit the ground running when the RTM version is released. If you’re already playing with the Preview version in your lab, this will work there as well. Since Skype for Business Server 2019 has more features related to Office 365, including Skype for Business hybrid and online, and Microsoft Teams, rest assured that I’ll be adding more options and features to support and utilize those.

Support for Windows Server 2019

Now supported by this script are the prerequisites for Windows Server 2019 when installing Skype for Business Server 2019. What what what? That’s right, I support a not-yet released version of Skype for Business on a not-yet released operating system. Crazy? Yep. But some individuals and organizations are already working with this combination, and I wanted to provide a solution that makes life easier for them. Rest assured that as the SfB 2019 and WS2019 solutions evolve, so will this script. Version 5.0 of this script was tested against build 17744.r5 of Windows Server 2019.

Optimized code

As I’ve said before, I don’t consider myself a developer. I’m merely a coder that manages to make things work. As my skills increase, I always try to revisit existing scripts and enhance them with better ways of accomplishing tasks. Some of that is from methods available in newer versions of PowerShell, and some are just in the discovery of better avenues of approach to tasks. There are a LOT of changes in the script to reflect that. If I had to guess, I’d say at least 1000 lines of code have been touched just in the past few weeks.

Skype for Business 2019 Control Panel. Click to view full size.

Enhanced logging

While I realize most people probably never look at the resulting log files generated from this script, they can be key in knowing what’s happened on a server as well as being able to review for troubleshooting in the event of an issue. I think I’ve built and provisioned more servers in my lab to test changes in logging than anything else. There is also the built-in ‘tail’ function that allows you to watch the log file in real-time to see what’s going on ‘under the hood’.

Set-CsFeatures.ps1 log file. Click to view full size.

Latest updates for key components

There are updates for some components that have been released recently. This includes the latest cumulative update for Office Online Server, and an update for Windows Server 2012 R2 that replaces a previously required hotfix for Skype for Business Server 2015.

Feature requests

Sometimes, someone suggests a feature or alternative option to something. This version is no different, incorporating some ideas presented by the community. A few are “why didn’t I think of that” type features. An example is popping up a folder browse dialog box if the script can’t find the Windows source files, instead of just throwing an error. Please continue to send feature requests!


Yeah, bugs happen. As much as I test, some people still find things, although most are just minor things like typos, or features that work differently than what someone expected or wanted. And some are ones I notice that haven’t been reported by anyone else. These pop up either in my lab testing or when I’m working on an unrelated part of the code and just notice it.

More than 8500 lines of PowerShell code mean that the script is fairly complex. Perfect? Hell no. As I mentioned above, I’m a coder. I will say that I ferociously attack known/reported issues and feature requests, and strive to make this tool as best as it can be. While I can’t test every possible combination of environments, I think I’ve accounted for a lot of possibilities.

I sincerely appreciate when people notify me of issues. Seriously. There is an option, 96, in the script that shows you how to report a bug, including what log file to send me. That really helps me address problems quicker.


Future additions currently under consideration include at least the following:

  1. Automatically add Windows Defender exceptions (auto discovery). This feature will discover an existing Skype for Business Server 2015/2019 installation, and automatically add the required anti-virus exceptions required for Windows Defender for a healthy operating Skype for Business deployment. Since both Windows Server 2016 and 2019 include Defender components, it makes sense to include this. These exceptions are based on the official exclusion list provided by Microsoft.
  2. Debugging tools, resource kit, etc. If/when these are added for Skype for Business Server 2019, the script will be updated to support the automated installation of them.
  3. Visual C++ 2017

So, with all of this newfound goodness baked into the script, where can one download this pot of gold? Head over to the home page for the script to grab this, or any version of it. The script fully supports using Get-Help for related information. All versions including this new v5.0, are signed with my Digicert code-signing certificate to verify authenticity. Digicert really makes it easy to use certificates, and they have stellar support, too. Also, any recent version of this script will notify you of an updated version when you run it (assuming it’s run on an Internet connected machine).

The changelog for the script shows all of the changes for each new version. Any bug fixes, feature additions & updates are reflected here.


I’ve never been one to really solicit donations for my work. My offerings are created because *I* need to solve a problem, and once I do, it makes sense to offer the results of my work to the public. I mean, let’s face it: I can’t be the only one with that particular issue, right? Quite often, to my surprise, I’m asked why I don’t have a “donate” button so people can donate a few bucks. I’ve never really put much thought into it. But those inquiries are coming more often now, so I’m yielding to them. If you’d like to donate, you can send a few bucks via PayPal at Money collected from that will go to the costs of my website (hosting and domain names), as well as to my home lab.

Review: Plantronics Voyager 8200 UC – Noise Cancelling Headset for PC and Mobile

July 25th, 2018 1 comment

I finally had a chance to put the Plantronics Voyager 8200 UC headset through some paces. This $380 (MSRP) headset sports boomless dual microphones – one on the front edge of each ear cup. Of course, this is a departure from “normal” UC headsets, and takes getting used to. But that’s not the only thing different. Dual mode active noise canceling (ANC) makes for a much quieter environment – whether you’re in a busy room, or mowing the grass (more on that later). This headset can be connected to two sources at one time, such as a PC and a mobile device. For a PC connection, the included BT600 USB Bluetooth dongle comes into play, and provides just under 100 feet of range. For a mobile device, it gets paired like any other Bluetooth device. There is also a removable 3.5mm audio cable included – perfect for watching those movies on the seat-back in front of you on a long flight.

This headset sports 24 hours of battery life for listening, but that drops to roughly 20 hours of talk time. When in standby mode, this headset should hold a charge for quite a while. Plantronics says a month, but I haven’t tried it that long. I use it too often! But more importantly, how does it sound? 40mm drivers give damn good sound, whether it’s speech related as part of a UC conversation, or you’re head-banging to Motley Crue.


The free download Plantronics Hub software allows for configuration of the headset, as well as upgrading the firmware. That second part is key here.

When I first got the headset, receiving audio during calls had a horrible clipping problem. Within 2 minutes, I’d opt for a different endpoint as it was very distracting. Music from my mobile device sounded fine, however. I tried various options in the software, such as disabling HD audio, etc. But that didn’t work. Upgrading the device to the latest firmware resolved the problem, and the audio has been quite clear ever since. The firmware upgrade process is pretty straightforward. Once the headset is powered on, it appears as the ‘headset’ tab in the Hub software. Click on the ‘Notifications’ button in the upper right, then ‘Check for Updates’. The upgrade process only takes a couple of minutes over the air. Other things in the Plantronics Hub software include the following screens under ‘Settings’:


Answering Call Alert – This provides verbal feedback when you answer a call from the headset. You’ll hear ‘Answering Call’.

Audio Channel Tone – Hear a tone that the headset is on and ready.

Caller ID – With this enabled, you hear verbal prompt of incoming caller ID info from you cell phone’s contacts list.

Mute On/Off Alerts – Hear feedback when muting and unmuting the headset. Options include various tones or a verbal alert.

Mute Reminder – Get a reminder that you’re muted. Some nice options here include feedback when you start talking, but you’re muted. This is similar to the on-screen feedback in Teams for the same thing.

Online Indicator – This is an on-headset LED indicator to alert others around you that you’re in a call.

Second Incoming Call – This setting configures how you’re alerted when you’re on one system, such as a Skype for Business call, and a mobile call comes in.

Software Settings related to feedback and logging.

Ringtones & Volume

Ringtone – Whether you hear a ringtone from the device.

Sidetone – This is how much (if any) of your own voice you hear while on a call. Most people take this for granted and don’t realize you hear your own voice when talking – until it’s not there. This option has Low/Medium/High settings. I find that I needed it to be on high. Feedback from me on this is it would be nicer if this was more granular, and if the high setting was a litter louder.

Volume Level Tones – This setting provides feedback when you’re adjusting the volume on the headset. Options include feedback at every level, or just minimum and maximum.

Softphones & Media Players

Target Softphone – This sets what the headset defaults to. Many are listed here, including Avaya, Cisco, Skype for Business, Broadsoft, consumer Skype, etc. An option I don’t see here is for Microsoft Teams.

Media Player Action on Incoming Call – Here is a nice feature that dictates what happens to your media player when there is an incoming call. ‘Pause & Resume’ is nice.

Softphones & Media Players – This is an extensive list of various UC clients and media players that you can enable/disable access to.

Sensors & Presence

Wearing Sensor – Mostly a master setting for everything else.

Active Call Audio – This is a nice option that defines what action is taken when take off the headset while you’re in a call. ‘Mute microphone’ is my choice, but you can also transfer the call to your mobile device or take no action.

Auto-Answer – Another nice option to reduce fumbling. This dictates what happens when you put the headset on when your phone rings. Having it answer the call is nice, avoiding having to click a button on screen or press one of the buttons on the ear cups.

Auto-Pause Music – This option is specific to streaming music, and whether you want to end/resume the stream when you remove the headset or put it back on.

Aware for Microsoft – This is nice idea, but I couldn’t get it to work. Supposedly, when enabled, this will update your Skype for Business status when you’re in a mobile call.


Extended Range Mode – if you’re finding that you’re often near the edge of the reception coverage, you can enable this setting to provide a little more range. The downside is that it disabled wideband audio.

HD Voice – This provides for richer audio, but consumes more battery power. But hey, that’s why they’re rechargeable, right?

Streaming Audio – This enables streaming audio mobile device, but at the cost of battery life. But we simply MUST have our Van Halen, right?


Anti-Startle – Helps reduce loud noises for your hearing protection.

Noise Exposure – This is a tad different from the Anti-Startle. This monitors overall sound to make sure you’re below the level set by the EU government. Anti-Startle is more for sudden noises, while this is overall throughout the day.

For those in the enterprise, Plantronics Manager Pro can be used to maintain and monitor devices via a web browser.


A great feature of this headset is its Active Noise Cancellation: The headset works great regardless if the active noise cancellation (ANC) is turned on. When enabled, it does a great job of reduction of steady noise sources such as airplane or lawn mower engine noise. Even if you aren’t listening to an audio source, the reduction in noise means you could take a quiet nap on a flight. When the ANC is turned off, you don’t hear a big change in the quality from audio sources like you do with some Bose headsets.

Controls on the right ear cup include a on/off hook button on the side, power and mute switches on the back. A USB micro port on the bottom of the right ear cup allows for charging, and a 3.5 mm jack next to that is for the included audio cable. Also on the right ear cup are several LEDs. A series of blue LEDs cycle when the headset is charging. A single blue LED lights up when you’re in a call, and it changes to red if you’re muted. On the left ear cup, there is the ANC switch on the back, play/pause, next & previous buttons on the side surrounded by the volume dial. The volume dial turns about 15 degrees in either direction to raise or lower the volume. Personally, I’d prefer that this be a continuous dial. On the front of each ear cups are the microphones used for both speech and noise cancellation.

Turning on the headset yields several voice notifications, including that it’s powered on, the battery level, and what it’s connected to. Pressing the power switch up and releasing will repeat these notifications. The option to mute the headset when taking it off is great, as is the ability to answer the phone automatically when putting it on. I really like these as they streamline the whole experience.

The Dynamic Mute Alert feature is advertised as “Dynamic mute alert senses and alerts you when you talk when muted.” This didn’t always work as I expected. Sometimes it would take up to 10 seconds before I would hear the “muted” notification. I would expect it to be a little faster. Sometimes, I wouldn’t hear it at all. That’s too bad, as this would be a great feature.

Other than audio quality, there are some things I always look at when testing a headset for use in the office.

Fitment: Fit of the headset is very good. It doesn’t squeeze my giant melon like the original Jabra Evolve 80 headset does. The 8200 UC is comfortable enough to wear on hour+ long conference calls. But lets look at a couple of other tests.

Sweat test: Over the ear headsets can generally get warm since they completely encase your ears. These are no different, even in a comfortable office environment. Mowing the grass with the 8200 UC headset results in pretty sweaty ears, but no degradation in audio quality or fit. And that includes not getting overly slippery.

Head tilt test: This is the test where you look down towards the floor, chin touching your chest, and see if the headset slides off your head. Over the ear headsets generally do well because your ears tend to keep it in place. With this headset, it pretty much stays in place unless you nod strongly, and then you can feel the headband slide forward a bit, but not enough to pull the headset off. I’ve had some where they slide right off my head when looking down.

Overall audio test: I used this headset in many Skype for Business and Teams calls – both one-on-one and conferences. Once the firmware issue was resolved, the headset worked great each time. I had no problems with clarity for received audio, and other call participants said my sending audio was also quite clear. For Bluetooth audio, again, the headset worked great when paired to my cell phone. I had two instances where the connection to the cell phone dropped, but I was unable to determine whether the cause was on the mobile or headset side. In both instances, it immediately reconnected. One issue I did run into is that the Bluetooth audio would cut out for a few seconds when I would reach the edge of the PC dongle’s range. This didn’t happen every time. Usually I would just hear the voice notifications “PC connected” or “PC disconnected”. But it would happen occasionally. When using the included 3.5mm audio cable for connecting to other devices, I had not problems at all. I watched several movies when traveling internationally. The ANC worked as expected, whether on a flight or cutting the grass. It even silenced the sound of air coming through the AC vent in my office, and that’s a sound I don’t generally notice.


Pros: Great sound quality, once the firmware was updated; Connecting to multiple audio sources; Great fit; Nice features in configuration software; Voice notifications; Plenty of hardware controls; Excellent battery life; Quite comfortable; Excellent build quality.

Cons: Volume control should be continuous dial; When at the edge of the PC coverage range, sporadically causes short loss of audio from mobile; headset comes with simple pouch instead of hard case; Dynamic Mute Alert feature is very inconsistent; Sidetone adjustment could be more granular, and have a wider ange.

Overall: The Plantronics 8200 UC is a great sounding headset that works great in Skype for Business and Teams, as well as with a mobile device, while blocking out distracting noise. I’d love to see improvements in the Dynamic Mute Alert feature as I’m somewhat jaded by the same on-screen feature in Microsoft Teams. I recommend this headset for those who like over-the-ear headsets with active noise cancellation. I plan on continuing to use this headset.

Ethics Statement: Companies may send software, hardware, or other products or samples to me in order for me to review such samples and determine whether I will provide a review of the product on I do not accept any samples on any preconditions, such as, that I will agree to provide a review simply because the company sent me a sample, or that I will only provide a positive review. Please note that companies may provide these samples before the product is commercially available, in which case, I may agree to an embargo with the company or its PR firm. This means I agree not to publish the review or associated news until a given time.

UC Inside Track: Episode 8: Dial Plans, Normalization Rules, and the Skype Optimizer with Special Guest Ken Lasko

June 6th, 2018 No comments

In this episode with MVP Ken Lasko of Nectar, we look at core enterprise voice configuration feature in Skype for Business and Lync. This includes dial plans and normalization rules: What they are, and how they work. And we chat about Ken’s Skype Optimizer, a free solution to help build the requisite dial plan configuration for a Skype for Business environment. Why spend hours (or more) figured everything out when the Skype Optimizer will have it done for you in minutes. Work smarter, not harder!

Episode 08:

UC Inside Track is available directly via the link above, via RSS, iTunes, TuneIn, Google Music Play, and Podcast Addict.

Community Driven Conference Seeks to Fill Void

April 11th, 2018 1 comment

Several years ago, the first Lync Conference was held in Coronado. Maxed out at just under 1000 attendees, this was a great event for those in the Lync space. Networking, technical content, vendors, and a great location. The following year, the event was held at the Aria in Las Vegas, mainly because it could hold a lot more people. And it did. A bigger conference meant more vendors and more room for technical sessions. Another fun event. But soon after that, Microsoft stopped having the dedicated event, and rolling everything into the Microsoft Ignite event. First held in Chicago, then Atlanta, then Orlando. Monster sized events for sure – the Orlando location was eight million square feet. But this was a combined event across all of the Microsoft solutions. It was easy to get lost in the shuffle, and it felt less ‘personable’. Those dedicated to Lync/Skype for Business, or at least heavily focused on them, really wanted to go back to the days of the dedicated events. Well, we’re going to try to do just that. Four MVPs including myself decided to take the bull by the horns and do it ourselves! Introducing the Comms vNext Conference. We’re starting off as a one day, FREE event in Denver, Colorado. If you’ve attended or at least heard of the SQL Saturday events, this is very similar, with our event being on Saturday, June 9th, 2018. We’ll have a keynote speaker (Jamie Stark of Microsoft), along with eight one-hour technical sessions by some of the top Skype for Business and Teams folks around, including MVPs, Masters, and more. Topics will include Skype for Business, Teams, and related technologies. We’ll have vendors there, too! The event is being held at the BRAND NEW Microsoft MTC, and we’re expecting at least 100 people. If this works out well, we’ll expand it further at future events located elsewhere in the country, with the hopes we can eventually get to a regular, multi-day conference. There will also be a social event the evening before, where you can socialize with everyone and enjoy some good food and adult beverages. We’re ecstatic to announce that sponsors include Microsoft, AudioCodes, Landis Technologies, Jabra, Anynode, Pexip, and Plantronics.

Fore more information, and to register, see the website at, and follow the conference on Twitter @CommsvNext. If you’d like to submit a speaker session for consideration, go to the website, as all of the details are there. We hope to see you there!