Invoxia’s NVX 610, which I reviewed not long ago, is an ambitious device, tackling various communication and entertainment functions all by way of an iOS host. With the NVX 610 selling for $599, it’s many capabilities come at a price.
Earlier this week Invoxia announced that they have started to deliver their new AudiOffice device. Announced at CES earlier this year, AudiOffice looks nearly identical to the NVX 610. The device is more targeted in its feature set, acting as a hardware dock for the purposes of desktop telephony applications.
Like the NVX, AudiOffice supports cellular calls, one SIP account and one Skype account. HDVoice support remains in the form of G.722 via SIP and SILK with respect to Skype calls. Compared to it’s larger sibling AudiOffice has fewer microphone (2 vs 8) and speaker (4 vs 8) elements.
Invoxia’s NVX 610 is a curious device. In some ways it defies description. Is it an iPhone/iPad dock? Is it a desk phone? Or is it a conference phone?
In truth, it’s all of these things. The question is, can it very good at all those functions? Or any of them?
These questions are what prompted me approach Invoxia for an evaluation unit. This review arises from the my experience with that device over the past eight months.
Let’s begin by considering a little bit about the company. Invoxia are a French company with strength in design and engineering. Amongst their team you will find considerable experience in telecom. In the past they have been involved in projects for BT and the French multi-national Thomson, including the SIP/DECT hardware that Comcast rolled out as part of its HomePoint offering.
It seems that there’s a new wave of devices emerging that aim to provide high-quality video calling by way of the family TV.
This is not unfamiliar territory as both Cisco and Google have been in the space for some time. Cisco had their UMI device and associated service. Google had with the video calling capabilities built into Google TV, as exemplified by Logitech’s Revue.
It very clear that none of these prior efforts have made the kind of inroads that had been expected. Umi is no more. Logitech admitted that they took a bath on the Google TV and killed off Revue. Google seems to be continuing the Google TV effort, but it’s unclear where it’s heading.
In recent years we’ve repeatedly heard of the death of the land line, how large numbers of consumers are “cutting the cord” and turning to mobile phones as their only phones. Industry data on the continuing loss of land lines bears out this claim.
Many people, including VUC regulars like myself and Dave Michels, have been calling for a reimagining of the desk phone. The premise being that an innovative reconsideration of the desk phone could save the “Home Phone.”
The trend in cord cutting is not purely a consumer phenomenon. Given dispersed and highly mobile workforces some businesses are eschewing the traditional desk phone in favor of mobile phones. This is driven by many factors, notably; cost, convenience, and feature set in the light of smart phones.
The more interesting thing is the fact that this new release of Skype For Android now supports calling over 3G/4G wireless service. Until this release Android devices were only allowed to do voice calling when on Wifi networks. The exception being Android devices offered by Verizon Wireless.
In truth I’ve made little use of Skype on my phone, at least to this point. Limiting the voice aspect to wifi really constrains its utility. While in NYC this week I allowed my G2 to update its Skype installation and did a few cursory experiments with the new release.
I was happy to hear that the new Skype client seems to support the latest SILK codec. Calling the Skype call testing service I heard both their outgoing message and my own voice back in very clear wideband audio. I may yet run some test signals across a Skype call to get some measurement of what I was hearing.
I was also happy to find that the Skype client supports the use of the Bluetooth headset with wideband capability. This is in marked contrast to the release of Counterpath’s Bria Android Edition, the SIP client that I currently run. It simply does not access the Bluetooth capability of the handset. I must admit that I am at least one release back in Bria Android Edition.
As this weekend I am working to complete a review of the Plantronics Voyager Pro UC Bluetooth headset I tried also it with Skype. The call was obviously wideband, very bright and cheerful sounding. I tried making calls both on my local wifi and T-Mobile’s HSPA+ network. In both modes that calls sounded great. It will be interesting to see what happens when the phone falls back to its EDGE mode, outside of HSPA range.
It’s great that voice calling using Skype over 3G/4G is now more broadly available. I’m betting that causes a considerable uptick in the use of Skype on mobile devices.
It has been said that, “the devil is in the details.” It has also been noted that I’m fussy about such things. After all, it usually takes little or no extra effort to get something right, often with much benefit moving forward.
I think that USB attached audio devices, whether headset or speakerphone, are exceptionally convenient. They isolate the low-level analog signal handling from the harsh electrical environment inside a computer, often allowing for improved noise performance. They also save us from the painful prospect of loading unique device drivers.