One of the stickier lessons from my youth was understanding the value of using the right tool for the task at hand. This is the belief underlying my oft-stated assertion that you should never use a speakerphone when a headset or conference phone is more appropriate. A headset is ideal for one person, a speakerphone might service two-or-three people in an ad hoc gathering around a desk. A larger group demands a proper conference phone.
Back in 2010 I was fortunate to be able to review the Polycom SoundStation IP 5000SIP conference phone. It’s an ideal device for someone who has a large office or small meeting room. It microphone array easily accommodates a group of 4-6 people around a small conference table. It’s physical size ensures that it won’t be in the way.
That price is not much more than a decent quality desk phone, making it ever more practical to put a proper SIP conference phone at the far end of that executive office or in the small meeting room. At that price even very-SMBs can afford the right tools to communicate well in a small meeting situation.
Last Fall I bought a ClearOne Chat 160 USB attached conference audio device. It was purchased to make it easier for Tim Panton to gather the Asterisk Dev crowd to join the VUC call following Astricon 2010. In that role it seemed at least adequate, much better than what we used at Astricon 2009.
Since then the ClearOne Chat 160 has loitered about my office seeing only occasional use. This past week I shipped it to Milwaukee with some Pixel Power equipment that I was supposed to demonstrate. This demo was to be a little unusual in that I wasn’t going to Milwaukee myself.
The plans was that I was to give the demo remotely. Our salesman would bring the equipment in to the prospects site, get it setup and online. I would be given access using GotoMeeting. For a portion of the demo I’d drive the gear from my office in Houston. For a second portion I’d show them the desktop of the system that I was using, which gave an example of how the product they were evaluating would be integrated into their facility.
Some of what they saw would be local to them, providing real HD video output to a proper HD monitor. Locally they would be able to assess the output quality and the basic performance of the hardware. The systems that they viewed remotely would serve as an example of the newsroom workflow tools that we provider, giving them a view of the news dept role in preparing graphics for each newscast.
This week Polycom is introducing the SoundStation IP5000 conference phone at VoiceCon East in Orlando. The SoundStation IP5000 is the latest in a long line of SoundStation models that go back to the very core products upon which the company was founded. Unlike most of their prior offerings the SoundStation IP5000 is a SIP conference phone specifically targeting smaller conference rooms & executive offices. This also makes it suitable for the home office user.
To say the least, I was eager to try the little SoundStation IP5000 from the moment it was offered. When a class leading company like Polycom creates a new product specifically for the SOHO market it makes me take notice. Will they get it right, and deliver the kind of device upon which their reputation was built…yet designed and priced to match the sensibilities of the SOHO/SMB user?