As part of that bigger picture for the “new normal” many businesses have migrated a lot of their workforce to home workstations. This presents a lot of challenges firstly for connectivity to the workplace, then secondly the logistics of providing an ergonomically sound workstation for worker safety. The EPOS Expand 80T (herein 80T) comes into play for the latter of those points, providing support for improved ergonomics at your workstation.
For me during the workday, my work and occasionally personal mobiles go fairly consistently as well as MS Teams calls. The 80T provides multiple connection options for a number of devices to simultaneously connect, resulting in a single device to use to answer any incoming calls. While the device arrived the day SA went into our half-arsed
6 day 3 day lockdown, it’s continued to be a regular use item until sending it back.
What is it?
The EPOS Expand 80T Bluetooth Speakerphone is a speakerphone that will allow you to connect a number of devices (up to 8 Bluetooth as well as the physical connection options) simultaneously, as well as conference them together. As we already mentioned, it’s also specifically designed for use with Microsoft Teams as well which is handy during the review as I use Teams daily.
It’s not a small, or particularly lightweight offering though so don’t expect to be carrying one around daily. This is intended to be left at a desk or in a boardroom for communal use. A number of factors — including the price at $1045.009 — point to the Expand 80T being aimed at the corporate market.
This thing couldn’t be simpler to operate with regard to the controls. It will happily connect to multiple Bluetooth devices, a hardwired AND wireless (via USB dongle) devices simultaneously. When you’re connected there are a number of really useful features with the controls; pick up and hang up calls, muting your mic and volume controls for the call.
One I particularly like is the Teams button – this lights up when a scheduled Teams meeting begins and a simple single press will fire up Teams and join the meeting on your connected device. Connecting a Bluetooth device is really simple as well by pressing and holding the Bluetooth button, you can then pair from your mobile device. Or if that’s too hard, there’s also an NFC pairing area you simply need to swipe your phone over.
There’s a number of really useful features included in the design. One I particularly like is the automatic power on when its plugged into PC. I’m also quite excited by the single press option (hold the answer button for 2 seconds) to merge calls between the softphone options on your PC and a Bluetooth call on your mobile. This makes it surprisingly useful if you’re managing calls from multiple sources throughout the day where those worlds collide.
What does the Expand 80T bring to calls?
We’ve already mentioned that this isn’t something that a home user would buy with reckless abandon, it’s not cheap after all. But if you’re in a work role where you’re on the phone and/or video meetings a lot, this is a really sound investment. The speaker is really clear, so much so that in the office – it wasn’t a bad option for music playback, not just a speakerphone option.
Where this takes a big step over other speakerphones is the noise-cancelling microphone. It gives the people on the other end of your calls a really clean audio experience. In a work setting, this improves the quality of your call beyond belief. If you’re choosing to use this as an option in a meeting room there are also two microphone expansion ports allowing you to expand your input options.
It’s really easy to dismiss hardware like this as frivolous or even pointless and in honesty, that’s what I did when the review unit became available. I was really pleasantly surprised at the whole user experience. Everything from setup, connection to daily use was simple and just worked.
What I didn’t expect was the clarity of calls and the dimension of professionalism that it added to call. Nor did I expect that the ability to merge softphone with mobile calls, potentially several of them, would even be used, but putting it bluntly, it’s a brilliant feature.
In honesty, I also didn’t really expect to like a cross-platform speakerphone but I really do. It’s just so versatile and easy to use whether it’s on a single user deskspace or in an office environment this is a really solid investment. Obviously, the $1045.00 price tag will be a major deterrent for home users, but don’t forget – working from home there are always those handy tax deductions we all look for at the end of the year.
So its versatile, hugely functional, expandable for larger office areas and not cheap but not completely outrageous in cost. If you’re working from home or finding too many disparate incoming communication mediums in front of you then this isn’t just a solid investment, is a really surprisingly good investment that can aid your productivity.
It’s absolutely not for everyone, but if you’re using video calls (particularly MS Teams) and lots of mobile calls during the day then you’re in the target market. The only question is if you’ve got the budget for it, and if it’s a work expense then honestly it’s a great investment.
At a minimum, I hope EPOS does the smart thing, and brings out versions of this for Skype, Zoom, and Google Meet. Better would be one speakerphone device which does all four.
Skype is being phased out in 2021.
It works perfectly with all the other options you’ve mentioned, it’s just got a specific meeting button for Teams.