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Plantronics and Cisco Combine for True Unified Communications

October 24, 2011 | Hogan Keyser
October 24, 2011 via - Tablets are fast becoming the most popular computing option for working 'on the go', particularly the models that have been designed for enterprises by unified communications (UC) innovators such as Cisco and Avaya. These tablets provide mobile workers with intuitive, easy-to-use technology platforms that combine a multitude of communications, essentially becoming an all-in-one device.
Cisco's Cius tablet is just such a device which also introduces a desk number into mobile territory so that workers can make and receive calls from anywhere. The tablet has front and rear, HD-quality cameras for video conferencing, can be used with Bluetooth headsets for private calls, can be used as a traditional desktop phone or a video conferencing device when docked, and will smoothly transition between Wi-Fi and cellular network connections. However, do note that the Cius docking station enables a user to make phone calls, the 'mobile' benefits from a dedicated headset, and it is this headset feature that is actually making the Cius a true all-in-one communications platform. According to Cisco, the tablet:

  • Extends the power of participation to everyone, liberating users from the confines of geographic and organisational boundaries.
  • Delivers enterprise-class mobility, security and manageability required by IT organisations.
  • Fosters a new way of working with a new class of collaborative applications created by Cisco and partners.

The Cius tablet provides real time access to resources, applications and network services in a portable packet, enabling people to effectively collaborate wherever they are located, via a new contacts-directed interface. As well as being an open Android-based tablet, the tablet is also an IP phone and using the contacts directory, you can also presence to find an expert, create and view visual voicemail, click to IM and much more. Other features include:

  • Communicate with Cisco Unified Communications enterprise telephony solution.
  • View your contacts and their availability via presence, click for IM or video chat with Cisco's Jabber messaging.
  • Conference with Cisco's WebEx meeting applications on-demand collaboration tool.
  • Join video calls on any Cisco video endpoint including Cisco TelePresence systems and Cisco TelePresence EX Series endpoints.
  • Exchange ideas within virtual teams using Cisco Quad enterprise social software.
  • Share ideas and expertise with the Cisco Show and Share social video system.
  • Enhanced security due to corporate intellectual property is built in to the cloud.
  • Enhanced productivity due to rich, Windows-based business process applications accessed by Anywhere-as-a-Service (XaaS).
  • Enhanced manageability and faster deployment due to simpler and faster provisioning of virtual desktops and applications.
  • Enterprise-class mobility with wired, wireless and 4G data services.
  • Enterprise-class device, network, mobile and policy management security.

During Beta testing, Cisco combined the tablets with Plantronics' Voyager Pro UC Bluetooth headsets, giving users better usability to the already impressive functionality of the Cius tablet. Being able to answer a call by placing the Voyager Pro UC on your ear or transferring the audio from the Cius speakerphone to a private chat on the Voyager Pro UC is simplicity in itself. Voyager uses Plantronics' Smart Sensor technology, similar to that of touch screen devices, and can determine when it's being worn on an ear, thereby activating calls automatically, not only with Cius but also with a mobile phone or a Cisco Bluetooth desk phone. The wireless headset system connects PC and mobile communications and if your headset is not to hand, incoming calls will be automatically transferred between mobile phones and headsets. Other benefits include:

  • Multiple device connectivity.
  • Smart Sensor technology.
  • Dual-mic Audio IQ2 noise cancelling technology.
  • Advanced WindSmart technology that blocks intrusive wind noise.
  • Enhanced voice alerts to keep you aware of low battery, lost connection and more.
  • Bluetooth mini-USB adapter.
  • Battery meter on iPhone.
  • Audio streaming - stream music, podcasts, GPS and other audio applications from A2DP-enablied phones.

In excess of 90% of beta testers that used the Voyager headset with the Cius tablet, an impressive result, stated that the headset was comfortable to wear and had exceptional voice quality. The headset design has been developed to handle the Cisco Unified Communications platform, and many of the testers were impressed with its ability to smoothly switch between the Cius private and public mode, as well as between devices.

With the Cius tablet, Cisco has taken unified communications a step further, taking away the need for several items of hardware and/or software, and amalgamating all functionality into one device. Combining the tablet with Plantronics' audio devices, it looks like the Cius is more or less all you need to communicate these days.

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