Freshtel's 1040 Internet Telephone Headset connects up to any PC via standard colour-coded microphone and headphone jacks. While the headset itself is driver free (presuming that your audio ports are working properly in the first place), it does come bundled with a copy of Freshtel's FireFly application -- which we've reviewed as part of our review of Freshtel's VoIP offering -- and a voucher for AU$5 worth of PSTN call credit.
The headset itself is of the type worn over the head with a thin and mostly comfortable band that connects to a small clip that grips to the side of your head while being worn. It's a single speaker, and therefore mono audio headset with a connected noise-cancelling microphone that ratchets down with a noisy clatter into a speaking position. While the noise aspect of the headset may be a little surprising and/or irritating at first, it does demonstrate that the rotating section of the microphone boom is nice and stiff, which means it should be able to withstand quite a lot of use and twirling before becoming loose. The rest of the microphone boom is flexible, so it's quite simple to twist it into a position where you should have decent microphone pickup. The headset cables are colour-coded which makes for easy plug-in operation, and the provided cable is long enough to use with floor-based desktop systems, or even with a laptop if you just like moving around a little while you chat online.
Freshtel sells the 1040 with the promise of it being for Internet Telephony, although there's precious little stopping you from using it for any and all PC audio related applications. The microphone features noise cancelling technology, which gives it certain application for things such as voice recognition packages, and the light weight of the headset also makes it a potential choice for online PC gamers or afficianados of LAN parties.
The Firefly VoIP application that ships on CD with the 1040 Headset will run on any system using Windows 98SE or better and requires a 400MHz processor and 128MB of memory, along with the naturally requisite broadband connection and a soundcard with suitable input jacks. That's all very low-key by today's system standards, so essentially it's usable by just about every PC user. We didn't test with a Mac, and Freshtel's software doesn't support it, but there's no technical reason why the headset itself shouldn't work on the Mac platform.
We tested the Freshtel 1040 both with VoIP applications -- including but not limited to Freshtel's Firefly service -- and found it had reasonably good audio response and pickup. It is somewhat limited with being only a mono headset; there's any number of other headset/microphone combinations that offer true stereo sound, which is important if you're going to be using the headset to, say, listen to music before making a call later.
VoIP-centric headsets are a dime a dozen, and while the Freshtel 1040 isn't the fanciest of them, it's reasonable value if you're likely to use the included AU$5 Freshtel voucher. If that's not part of your plan, we'd certainly suggest something like the Netcomm V25, which is only AU$5 more and includes inline volume/mute switching.