IF COMFORT’S A PRIORITY, THINK TWICE BEFORE BUYING THIS HEADSET

Logitech ClearChat Comfort/USB Headset H390

Logitech HD390 pic

Pros: Decent sound quality. Very good USB microphone quality. Possibly more durable than cheaper headsets.

Cons: For some users, the relatively tightly fitting earpieces soon get quite uncomfortable (or worse, as I’ll explain below).

 

Some weeks ago my longstanding carpal-tunnel-syndrome symptoms, which are normally negligible, flared up enough that I began exploring ways to ameliorate the comfort of my wrists and fingers. Initially, I focused my attention on discovering the “ideal” ergonomic keyboard, not to mention the “perfect” mouse. That quest led to my ending up with an assortment of three ergo keyboards and three ergo mice. I don’t regret this, for it’s nice to occasionally switch between this or that mouse (or keyboard) and thereby enjoy a bit of variety.

More recently, however, my focus has been on implementing speech-recognition technology designed to – virtually – eliminate typing. For, though I certainly don’t intend to stop using my keyboard(s) entirely, I’ve lately (belatedly?) become increasingly intrigued with researching and acquiring the several requisite hardware and software components comprising an “ideal” speech-recognition system for the average PC user wanting not only optimal “dictation accuracy” but also optimal physical comfort.

After spending a week grappling with Windows’ own native speech recognition [which – when it comes to dictating  word-processor documents – is  frustratingly inaccurate], I finally settled on the “Home” edition of Dragon NaturallySpeaking 12.5, which  – when it comes to accuracy – is “light years“ ahead of Windows’ counterpart.

Along with finding the ideal software, I was seeking an ideal microphone for speech recognition. Having repeatedly read that USB microphones are superior to analog ones, I somewhat impatiently shelled out 37 bucks (at my neighborhood Walmart) for this Logitech model H390 headset. [If I’d instead ordered it from Amazon, I could’ve saved about $11.]

Before buying this headset, I’d read Amazon reviews praising the quality of not only its speakers but also its microphone. And I can basically verify those customers’ claims in those respects; moreover, the in-line volume-control/muting switch functions satisfactorily [though I occasionally noticed it dangled at precisely the spot where my thigh could inadvertently – and frustratingly – activate the “volume-down” function by pressing that switch against my typical office chair’s armrest support].

However, I’d also noticed Amazon’s customer reviews were mixed regarding this headset’s somewhat unusually configured earpieces. Unlike cheaper headsets’ conventional, thin-foam earpieces, this model H390’s leather-like ones are thicker and more durable. Even so, unlike the somewhat similar-looking earpieces of old-fashioned stereo headphones, these Logitech H390 ones aren’t large enough to enclose the ears. Hence, the longer you wear them, the more you’ll likely feel them pushing annoyingly against your ears.

Worse still – in my case – after dictating with this headset for several days, I began experiencing an ominous “clicking” noise/sensation in my right ear. It got worrisome enough that I visited my ENT doctor to verify that there was nothing seriously or permanently damaged in that ear. Fortunately, within a day or so, that symptom essentially disappeared – provided I no longer wear this headset!

Now, I’ve little doubt that the vast majority of users would never experience my aforementioned quirky symptom. Nevertheless, if you scan the various “negative” customer reviews at Amazon, you’ll readily discern that a number of users deem these unusually configured earpieces to be more or less uncomfortable.

Accordingly, I suggest that you either purchase some other USB headset with earpieces that won’t dig into the user’s lobes, or – if you’ve got the requisite money – buy instead what I myself finally settled on: the “SpeechWare 3-in-1 TableMike” desktop microphone, which costs around $300. With the latter high-end product, I’m able to lean back comfortably in my chair while dictating (even if speaking fairly softly) from a distance as great as 24 inches from that USB, noise-canceling desktop microphone that features built-in “equalization” circuitry optimized for speech recognition. Even at such a distance (provided the room is rather quiet and I pay a mere modicum of attention to my enunciation), my dictation accuracy with Dragon NaturallySpeaking 12.5 approaches 100%. Clearly, 21st-century technology is full upon us!

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Note: The foregoing review was “written” largely via speech recognition.

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