Plantronics Virtual Phone Booth Stereo Headset Review

by SarahM Reads (14,921)

by Sarah Meyer

Plantronics’ Virtual Phone Booth Stereo Headset is my first review item fresh from CES. Although not a brand new item, this headset is geared towards notebook users and gamers, with special sound-isolating earbuds to block out noisy environments like airports or conferences.

I decided put the Virtual Phone Booth to the ultimate test to see if they truly blocked out background noise: a day on the job. If these earbuds can block out the everyday chatter of my coworkers, then they can survive anything. Ok, I’m joking, but seriously, let’s check them out.

Plantronics .Audio 480 Virtual Phone Booth Specifications:

  • Speaker Driver size: 8mm Diameter
  • Speaker Frequency response: 20 Hz – 10 kHz
  • Microphone Frequency response: 200 Hz – 7 kHz
  • Cable length: 4 ft (3.5mm plugs)
  • Flexible boom microphone
  • Sound-isolating earbuds in multiple sizes
  • Compatible with both Windows and Mac operating systems
  • Connections: Sound Card, USB, or MP3 player
  • 1-year warranty
  • Included in the box: Earbud USB stereo headset with boom microphone, inline volume/mute controls, USB adapter, earbuds and eartabs (S, M, L sizes), memory foam earbuds, and carrying case.

Design and Build

Plantronics’ Virtual Phone Booth looks nice at first glance; it is solid black with a few silver accents where the microphone, speakers and inline volume controls are located. The total length of the headset – from the plugs to the speakers – is about four feet long. The microphone boom is attached to the left earbud speaker and both earbud speakers are labeled right or left to avoid confusion.


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The speakers are small and silver and come with multiple earbud options. The traditional earbuds come in three sizes and appear to be made out of a clear silicone rubber material. The Virtual Phone Booth also comes with one set of black memory foam earbuds.

There are also three sets of eartabs (S, M, L sizes). They are clear but seem to be made out of a thicker material then the silicone earbuds.


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Further down there is the silver inline volume control and microphone mute button. There is also a small black clip attached for securing the cable to yourself.


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At the end of the cable there are two plugs; one for the headphones and the other for the microphone. They are 3.5mm plugs and will fit in standard headphone jacks on computers and MP3 players. They also include a USB adapter for notebooks that don’t have external headphone jacks.

The Virtual Phone Booth comes with a small black magnetic case to store the headset, extra earbuds and eartabs, and USB adapter.


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Audio Quality

The Virtual Phone Booth speakers put out comparable sound to other earbuds when it comes to audio quality (I use my iPod earbuds when I’m at work, as do many other people so I figure they are perfect for comparison). The music wasn’t faded or scratchy and when I used them to make a phone call, I could hear the other person clearly with no static.

The volume didn’t get as loud as my iPod earbuds but that’s the price you pay for the sound-isolating earbuds, which worked great. I work in an open office environment so I can hear my co-workers when they are on their phones or talking to each other. When I have my ordinary iPod earbuds in, their conversations can often drown out my music. With the Virtual Phone Booth earbuds in, I could hear my music all the time. They don’t completely block out all other sound but outside noise becomes a dull roar compared to what it is with my iPod earbuds.

One of the reasons the sound isolation works so well is because the Virtual Phone Booth comes with the multiple sized earbuds. My favorite are the memory foam earbuds. They blocked out the noise the best (I could barely hear anything but my music) and they were the most comfortable in my ears.

Speaking of, comfort was the one downfall for me when it came to the speakers. I do not like sticking things in my ears; with the Virtual Phone Booth you have to stick the earbuds farther in than with iPod earbuds. The memory foam earbuds were the most comfortable but I could still feel them and I didn’t like that.


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I used the microphone boom very little because I don’t make phone calls on my notebook and I’m not a gamer. I did test the microphone boom while making a phone call to a friend internationally using Skype. It was in working order and my voice was clear with little static. She mentioned brief pauses but that had more to do with the internet connection than the voice quality.


Conclusion

Plantronics’ Virtual Phone Booth Stereo Headset is a quality set of headphones. The audio was on par with other headsets I’ve used in the past and the sound-isolating earbuds worked great.

The headset works with Windows and Mac operating systems and is great for travel to block out busy airports or at work to block out background noise.

The only downside to these earbuds might be the price. Since they are really only compatible with notebooks, MP3 players and other devices with a standard 3.5mm headphone jack, they become sort of one dimensional which makes $110 seem pricey. The current street price of $55-$75 is much more reasonable.

Also, if you have a problem putting earbuds into your ear, you might want to go in a different direction. But if you have a little spare cash and are looking for a quality set of headphones for your notebook, the Virtual Phone Booth is a great investment.

Pros:

  • One-piece, easy to store
  • Little distortion even at maximum volume
  • Simple to use, no software
  • Multiple sized earbuds for perfect fit
  • USB adapter

Cons:

  • Microphone boom doesn’t detach
  • Isn’t compatible with PDA, game consoles
  • Expensive

Pricing and Availability

The Plantronics Virtual Phone Booth Stereo Headset is priced at $109.95 and can be purchased on the Plantronics website.


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