GN Netcom Profile SureFit® and Stratus Ultra-G™ Convertible Headsets

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Intro
We're talking convertibles here, but not cars. So what other kind of convertibles are there? Headsets! But aren't all headsets the same? Not these. One of the advantages of convertible headsets is that they're convertible, which means you can wear them over your head or on your ear. If you're only on the phone for a few minutes at a time, you might find the on-the-ear style ideal. Since it rests on your ear and not on your head, you won't have to worry about messing up your hairstyle. The over-the-head style is designed for people who are constantly on the phone. This design is typically more stable. And last but not least, each style can be worn over either ear.

Comfort is another advantage convertible headsets offer over ordinary headsets. Let's say you're the manager of a call center, and you need to purchase headsets for your customer service representatives. Problem is, you don't know who likes which kind of headset. Over-the-head or on-the-ear? When you choose a convertible headset, you won't have to make that decision. Your customer reps will be able to wear their headsets the way that's more comfortable for them.

Let's take a look at 2 models currently available on the market: the GN Netcom Profile SureFit and the GN Netcom Stratus Ultra-G™. I've reviewed both of these headsets using the GN Netcom 2-prong amplifier.

Does convertibility make a difference? Read on for the full scoop.

GN Netcom Profile SureFit
The GN Netcom Profile SureFit is the world's first headset to offer 3 wearing styles.

1. It comes right out of the box with the earhook installed. As the name implies, this style is worn on your ear. The rubber earhook can be reshaped for the most personal fit around your ear. However, if you tilt your head to the side, it feels like the headset could fall off.

2. Next up is the earloop. There are 4 sizes of earloops included: large, medium, small, and extra small. Because of the size of my ear, the best fit for me was the smallest earloop. Unlike the earhook, which you can reshape for a more personal fit, the earloop is not flexible. That's not to say that the earloop is uncomfortable or unstable to wear. Of the 2 on-the-ear styles, the earloop provides a more stable fit because it completely encompasses your whole ear.

One small quibble with the earloop is that it positions the speaker directly over your ear canal. If you have sensitive hearing, the sound coming through the speaker may be too loud, even with the amplifier on the lowest volume setting. Then again, this is through no fault of the headset. The fact is, no 2-prong amp—no matter who the manufacturer—will allow you to significantly vary the sound. A 2-prong amp by definition is only as good as the phone it's connected to.

The 2-prong amp does give you a 3-position volume switch, though, so you do get some help. But if you use GN Netcom's Universal or Multimedia Amp, you'll have all the play you could ask for when it comes to adjusting the volume.

3. You can wear the Profile SureFit over your head. Of the 3 wearing styles, this one provides the most stable fit. The best aspect of this style is the click-stop headband. It creates a custom fit, thereby eliminating frequent readjustments. It's intended to give you a perfect fit every time you put it on.

GN Netcom included 2 sizes of foam ear cushions in the package. The small cushion can be attached when using the earhook and earloop wearing styles. The headband's cushion isn't the softest pad I've felt against my ear. It's thin and conforms a bit too closely to the speaker's shape.

The Profile SureFit also includes a noise-canceling microphone, which can be helpful in a high traffic environment. No complaints can be made about the speaker's sound quality either. The transmission always sounds clear, never muddled or garbled.

Changing styles
I was able to snap all 3 styles into place without any difficulty. The only problem I encountered was during the removal of the speaker from the wearing component (i.e., earhook). The instruction booklet outlined the proper steps to take for removal. It sounded simple enough, but the speaker fit so tightly into the wearing component, separating the 2 required some effort at first. After doing this a few times, however, it was easy to master.

GN Netcom Stratus Ultra-G
Like the Profile SureFit, the Stratus Ultra-G is ready to wear straight from the package. The ear capsule uses the same concept as the Profile SureFit's earhook. It's shaped like the earhook, but is constructed of solid plastic instead of rubber. The ear capsule features an adjustable hinge to secure the headset around your ear. Although it doesn't provide as personal a fit as the earhook, the ear capsule is surprisingly stable.

If the ear capsule doesn't suit you, you can always slip the Stratus Ultra-G over your head. The headband may seem flimsy, but provides a stable fit on your head. The only downside to the headband is that it's not adjustable.

Two types of foam ear cushions are included, one for the ear capsule mode, and the other for the headband mode. The headband cushion offers slightly better padding than its ear capsule counterpart.

GN Netcom incorporated a noise-canceling microphone into the Stratus Ultra-G. Sound quality was excellent on my end. But one caller complained that my voice sounded faint, although I could hear him perfectly. I tried repositioning the microphone closer to my mouth, but it produced the same result. However, because only one of my callers reported this issue, it's possible that a poor connection may have been the culprit, rather than the headset or amp.

Changing styles
Like the Profile SureFit, I had to refer to the instruction manual to figure out how to detach the Stratus' speaker from the wearing component. Switching styles called for more effort than should be necessary. Watch your fingers!

The bottom line
From an economical standpoint, both the GN Netcom Profile SureFit and the Stratus Ultra-G are sound investments. Despite a couple of slight shortcomings, no other headsets on the market deliver the kind of versatility these two do. When you're ready for a change in the way you work, take one of these convertibles for a spin.