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Overview of Portable USB Speakerphones

For the past few years a little USB speakerphone has been a constant fixture on my desk. This fact was initially driven by my UK-based coworkers who have a habit of using Skype. Most of the Skype traffic was simply IM, but once in a while it would escalate to a voice call. In those cases I needed a suitable audio device, but it wasn’t routine enough to merit keeping a headset immediately available.

usp-speakerphones

Over time I started to see increasing value in using other soft phones as well. At first it was for the convenience of being able to effectively turn any PC I happened to be working on into a phone. The scope of this sometimes goes beyond telephony. For example, I’ve used a USB audio device to record screencast training movies. Since server class motherboards often don’t have built-in audio interfaces, using a USB attached device makes it possible to record the narrative of the training on the host system along with the screencast.

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Review: Plantronics .Audio 480 Headset

plantronics-audio480usb_cu-120-copyLast Christmas my wife got me one of Plantronics .Audio 480 headsets. I’d seen this model of headset offered for a while, and since I’ve used noise reducing headphones for listening to music for many years, the idea of a similar approach to a VoIP headset was intriguing. She knew that I was searching out a wideband capable SIP soft phone and thought that a suitably capable headset might enhance my traveling arsenal.

My earlier experience with noise reducing headsets started with the venerable Sony MDR-NC10…which I simply loved, and had several sets over the years.  I found them both comfortable to wear and very effective.  The concept of soft rubber-tipped ear buds that form a noise blocking seal into the ear canal was simply brilliant.

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A Strange Brew: VoIP/Telephony Crossed With Surround Sound

(this started as a quick comment on my Facebook page, but I’m moving it here so that people outside of FaceBook can join in)

With apologies to the McKenzie brothers. There appears to be an odd cross between two of my passions in the works. As I get more into the daily use of wideband telephony I wonder if there’s a potential to leverage some surround sound techniques to take conferencing to a new level?

It couldn’t be the puritanical kind of approach used in music recording. It would be more a matter of using surround panning to position participants in an synthetic soundfield. I wonder if this has been done to any degree elsewhere?

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New Gadget: Plantronics .Audio 480 Headset

plantronics-audio-480-headsetMy wife is a very patient woman, well much of the time. And I am very grateful, well most of the time. This past Christmas she gifted me a new Plantronics .Audio 480 wired headset. This week is my first business trip since the holidays so I decided to bring it along.

This trip finds me in Toronto. Normally I’d just use my cell phone for everything but international roaming rates are very high. Most typically a week in Canada adds $100-150 to my monthly T-Mobile bill.

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