GN Netcom Activa Corded Headset
by Jonathan Bem
Anyone who works with a telephone glued to his/her ear will doubtless come to
believe that a headset is a basic necessity. And though standard headsets free
your hands to take notes or flip through reports, the associated amplifier may
take up valuable space on an already overcrowded desktop. The GN
Netcom Activa headset, however, effectively banishes desktop clutter by
integrating the amp into the headset speaker housing. Combined with advanced
noise-canceling technology and long battery life, the Activa delivers heavyweight
function in a lightweight headset.
- First-ever professional headset with an integrated amplifier
- Noise-canceling microphone
- Advanced Voice Shaping to help distinguish a caller's voice from background
- Incoming and outgoing volume controls
- Mute switch
- Click-stop adjustable headband and flexible microphone boom
- Quick-release cord
- Headset/handset switch
- Automatic power saving standby and sleep modes
- Extra long battery life
- Wall hook for storing headset when not in use
The Activa ships with both a comprehensive manual and a 1-sheet quick guide.
Setup takes 3 easy steps. First, connect the headset to your desktop telephone,
either by plugging it directly into the telephone's RJ-9 handset jack, or by
plugging the headset and your handset into the included switch, and plugging
the switch into your telephone's handset jack. The switch provides a convenient
way to manually choose between headset and handset use.
Second, to power the unit, insert the included battery into the chamber within
the earphone. This step requires a bit of fingertip dexterity to liberate the
battery holder from its slot.
Third, make a few adjustments to ensure that the headset's sound quality and
volumes are optimized. Although most phones will work with the headset's factory
setting, you may need to adjust the small switch hidden beneath the foam earpiece
to correctly terminate the headset's electronics. To do so, twist the earpiece
to the left, dial the switch from "A" to "G" until a dialtone is heard, and
then twist the earpiece back in place. Next, use the rocker switch on the headset's
earpiece to adjust the listening volume. Finally, use the same switch (after
depressing the mute switch for a few seconds) to adjust the speaking volume.
The latter two adjustments are most easily calibrated with the help of a caller
on the line.
Using the Activa
Calls are answered and placed by using your desktop telephone. To answer, lift
the telephone's handset from its cradle. To place a call, lift the handset and
use the telephone's dialpad for dialing. To hang up, replace the handset in
You can adjust the headset's volume during a call by using the rocker switch
located on the earpiece, and you can fully mute the microphone by pressing the
switch just above the volume control. The headset will beep every 3 seconds
to remind you that it's on hold. Press the hold switch again to reactivate the
The headset's noise cancelation automatically helps separate your voice from
background noise. This will help your correspondent hear you clearly. If your
caller's voice does not adequately stand out from the background environment,
the Advanced Voice Shaping (AVS) function can be activated. To do so, press
both sides of the volume rocker switch simultaneouslya beep will signal its
activation. To cancel, simply press both sides of the switch again.
If your headset is inactive for 3 minutes, it will automatically enter the
power-saving standby mode. If inactive for an additional 30 minutes, it will
further reduce power consumption by entering the sleep mode. By powering down
this way, you're able to conserve battery power, and extend the life of your
battery. (The headset initially comes with 3 batteries, for more than 1 year's
worth of power. The automatic power-downs help ensure a full year of operation.)
A dialtone or other line noise (such as a caller's voice) will automatically
reactivate the headset. You can also manually reawaken the unit by pressing
either the mute switch or volume control.
The lightweight integrated Activa amplifier definitely saves deskspace. In
fact, it goes a long way to help create a "white collar," professional-looking
desktop without an external amp taking up extra workspace real estate. Despite
the old saying (forgive my paraphrasing), "a clean desk bespeaks an empty mind,"
the fact is that corporations seem to prefer that you keep a neat and tidy desktop.
GN Netcom's noise-canceling microphone (which provides up to 12 dB of suppression)
does a good job of isolating the headset user's voice from background sound.
My callers were able to hear me distinctly against backgrounds of various household
and office sounds. However, for some users the earpiece may not provide as good
a fit as others do. Also, the foam cushion pivots left and right, but not up
and down, so it may not uniformly seat completely flat on every ear.
As with any corded headset, the wire acts as an umbilical cord to your telephone.
Fortunately, the Activa cord provides a quick-release connector that allows
you to quickly disconnect and reconnect, as needed. This is often much easier
than removing the headset and finding a place to set it down (although the included
headset hanger helps out on that score, as well).
The included clothing clip attaches to your pocket or lapel and relieves your
head and neck from supporting the weight of the cord. Additionally, when you've
disconnected via the quick-release connector, the clothing clip dampens the
dangling cord's tendency to swing.
The 3 included 3-volt lithium-ion batteries (model #3032) last up to 600 hours
each (nearly 4 months of 8-hour workdays). An adapter is provided that allows
the unit to use less expensive #2032 batteries, with an expected life of 200
Summary and recommendation
GN Netcom has packed a lot of features into this lightweight headsetseparately
adjustable speaking and listening volumes, mute switch with audible indicator,
effective noise-canceling technology, and conveniences such as a quick-release
cord and headset wall hanger.
Most compelling is the integration of the amplifier into the headset itself.
This effectively reduces clutter for those working in tight quarters (e.g.,
phone solicitors in a carrel, home workers with crowded computer desks) without
materially adding to the headset's weight. If your desk is a virtual phone booth,
you'll appreciate the function, performance, small size and light weight of
But even if you have a normal-sized desktop this headset system allows you
to work hands free while maintaining a neat, professional, in-control appearance.
Like it or not, perceptions and appearances are critically important in the
workplace today. For that matter, with the influence of Feng Shui principles
seemingly spreading like wildfire, keeping things in proper order extends well
beyond the corporate world and into our everyday lives. In addition to being
an awfully good headset system, the Activa helps contribute to "good Feng Shui"
in your office.