There are many things to like about the Poly Voyager Focus 2 (VF2) if you’re looking for a headset that offers more than just the basics.
That said, I understand that this isn’t the cheapest solution for those in a work-from-home situation. Furthermore, I’m inclined to think that I would not have considered the VF2 myself as I tend to make do with what I have until the day that I cannot.
Since I’ve not reviewed many headsets in this price range, I have to look at this from an experiential point of view. So naturally, the question is, is the VF2 worth the upcharge?
In a nutshell, the VF2 is blessed with creature comforts that help to minimise the aggravation of a workday littered with calls. It looks and feels very well-made, so, at the very least, there are no complaints from a quality standpoint. The charging stand is optional, though it’s far more pleasant to use the stand as opposed to plugging in a wire every single time you want to charge the headset.
The VF2 uses an on-ear design, which I appreciate for all-day use. No headphones are comfortable enough to be worn all day long, but the experience with these has been decent enough. The tension exerted by the aluminium band is fairly gentle, and the pads, while firm enough to retain their shape, are soft enough at points of contact to minimise pressure on your skull.
The VF2 connects to your desktop or laptop via regular Bluetooth or an included Bluetooth dongle. The dongle makes it easy for you to move from station to station if need be as well, saving you the hassle of having to go through manually pairing the two devices all the time. It’s literally plug-and-play and you only need to ensure that you’re using the Poly mic as your primary input before you jump into a call.
Not only that, the dongle is generally an upgrade over your regular transmitters as well and you get slightly better consistency of transmission quality and over longer distances. It’s not like you can go a lot further away from your station in challenging environments but you’re also less likely to drop calls.
I guess that’s one way to characterise the VF2 – except for one feature, which we’ll get to in a bit, there isn’t anything that stands out in particular. To the VF2’s credit, it’s the cumulation of little perks that contribute massively to a positive experience.
For example, I appreciate the little ergonomic touches. The controls are simple to use as well with only three tactile buttons on one face of the headset housing. Two are assigned for volume adjustment, while the central button is primarily used for playback control, picking up a call, or engaging the digital assistant (supports Siri and Google Assistant).
You can also mute the call simply by lifting the boom up instead of pressing the dedicated mute button. And you also be alerted if you try to speak while on mute. Furthermore, the boom can rotate both ways, meaning you can place it on the left or the right side of your face and the headphones will automatically flip the stereo projection accordingly.
Poly has installed a wearing sensor as well, which you can configure to taste. If you don’t have the headset on when a call comes in, simply putting it on will pick up the call. If you take off the headset mid-call you can transfer the audio to your mobile phone. You can configure all of this, and more, in the Poly Lens desktop app, which is pretty comprehensive. You can even control your noise exposure or enable G616 anti-startle protection. It’s little things like these that make the day-to-day experience rather pleasant.
However, the mobile app – PLT Hub – looks really dated and you have to search for the keyword Plantronics rather than Poly. I don’t think I’m being mean to say that it feels a little.. sloppy? Not quite sure why they didn’t bother to update the name, even.
There is certainly no lack of connectivity options and you can connect the headset directly via USB if you run out of power and use the VF2 as a wired headset. The headset can remember up to eight Bluetooth devices, though it only connects up to two Bluetooth devices at any one time. Given how finicky Bluetooth can be, I’d rather not have too many devices linked, but it’s good to have options so you don’t have to go through a setup from scratch.
If I’m honest, I wasn’t expecting the VF2 to be any good for music but it fared better than I thought. The drivers have been tweaked to prioritise vocal clarity but somehow they’ve also made it pleasant enough for music and everyday media. Nothing exciting here, but you can always inject a little bit of life through an unexpected quick fix – by turning on the ANC, the sound tightens up and there is noticeably more bass.
The VF2 offers two levels of ANC, and you can easily switch between the three states via a physical switch on the headset housing. The ANC isn’t ground-breakingly good but it does just enough to block out enough background noise to make conversations less distracting.
And it’s not the only component that uses ANC here. The microphone also leverages noise-cancelling principles to filter out unwanted background noise. This is the VF2’s headline feature, which Poly calls Acoustic Fence – and it’s quite effective in blocking out anything that isn’t your voice. You can’t quite get past buffeting air (from a fan, for example) – you’ll have to angle the microphone such that the air doesn’t go across it – but the Acoustic Fence tech can more or less remove everything else within reason.
Even if you do something like turning up the music and sitting right in front of your speakers, the noise-cancelling circuit is able to reduce the hullabaloo into a soft, white noise-like sound. This noise is still noticeable during a conversation but not to the point of distraction and it gives you a bit of time to sort out what’s causing the noise without duly disrupting the meeting. Anyway, if people are ACTUALLY paying attention to the conversation no one will be the wiser.
I’ve always thought that headsets like the VF2 are essentially deskbound devices, but the Acoustic Fence can be pretty handy in handling calls on the train; the stigma of wearing a headset with a boom mic in crowded places notwithstanding.
While I honestly doubt that most people will think about using it outdoors, but just so you know that if you do, battery life won’t be a major concern. The 560mAh battery (which might not sound like much on paper) is more than good for a day or two’s worth of use. Poly rates the battery for 19 hours of talk time without ANC and 16 hours with. If merely for listening to music, you get up to forty hours without ANC and up to 24 hours with ANC. It more or less lines up with what I experienced, and with more sporadic use you’re looking at around three to four days before needing a recharge. And if you have the habit of putting it back on the charging cradle (which I still recommend despite its issues) after use, you never have to worry about battery life.
The good thing about the VF2 is that you can choose to buy only what you need. The headset is also sold on its own if you prefer a no-frills approach, but the charging stand is much, much more convenient. If you need access to a landline as well then you can get the Voyager Office Base.
That said, the connectors linking the charging stand and the headset on our unit aren’t the best and sometimes you have to wriggle it a little to ensure good contact. This isn’t very encouraging with long term use in mind.
For someone who’s not always in a Zoom meeting or taking calls, the Poly Voyager Focus 2 might be a hard sell as the price will always be a sticking point. If the money is nothing to you, it’s a no brainer – this headset offers a stellar experience. I suspect the people who will appreciate this best are those who’ve had to put up with wonky solutions for far too long; but at the same time, why wait till you’re fed up? This might just save you a lot of aggravation.
Poly Voyager Focus 2
Features – 8/10
Value Proposition – 7/10
Performance – 9/10
Design & Build Quality – 8/10
Minor niggles aside, The Poly Voyager Focus 2 delivers the money-is-no-object experience with aplomb. You’ll be (almost) happy to wear this all day.
Update: Winpro is offering this headset for $328 with the charging stand included along with a 2-year local warranty. That’s unusually cheap, but at this price, the Voyager Focus is highly recommended.