Ekiga v4.0 Released

Ekiga-LogoThis week saw an announcement about the release of Ekiga v4.0. This is the most significant release of the venerable open source soft phone in some time. It brings with it many improvements.

I’m especially interested in the following new capabilities:

  • New audio codecs: SILK (used by skype), G.722.1 (aka Siren 7), G.722.2 (aka GSM-AMR Wide band)
  • Video codecs changes: H.264 optimizations
  • Added RTP TOS support
  • Support for DNS SRV caching

While developed primarily on Linux Ekiga has long supported multiple platforms. I took a short while today to try the new release on an older Windows XP laptop. The Windows installer also installed the GTK libraries necessary to support the application. Installation was quick and painless.

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magic jack PLUS Now Officially Offering HDVoice

MAGICJACKPLUS-250pxThis morning’s news dump included an email from a marketing service being used by magic jack. Some while ago when I heard a rumor that Vocaltec was working on some means of supporting HDVoice in the next generation of their magic jack product/service. While the new magic jack PLUS started to ship backing August todays email was the first I’ve seen that actually mentioned HDVoice.

According to the web site for the service;

“magicJack PLUS™ service has received rave reviews and many people think it is the best Call Quality they have ever heard. The magicJack PLUS™ has added High Definition Voice. Best Call Quality and it’s FREE.”

The big change from magic jack to magic jack PLUS is in the hardware. The little USB interface device once required the used a computer. With an RJ45 connection to your home network the new version can run completely standalone. No computer required. This was largely a competitive issue driven by the NetTalk Duo.

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A Few Ideas On Call Recording

Polycom-SoundPoint-IP-335-300px Earlier this week I had a little Twitter exchange with Jon Brodkin. It was inspired by his initial tweet:

“transcribing interview and can hear myself sipping coffee. That must come through loud and clear on speakerphone too.”

The inappropriate, or at least unfortunate use of speakerphones being a pet peeve of mine I could not help but respond, recommending the use of a good headset…as I’ve done many times previously.

Jon further went on to inquire about how he might easily record a call when using a headset with his using a Polycom Soundpoint IP335?

He further asserts that:

“…you would think it should be a lot easier with an Internet-based phone, but it’s not.”

That started me wondering how many people find call recording to be troublesome? People in companies with on-site PBX systems may have such capability presented by those systems. SOHO users may need other options.

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Revisiting The Plantronics Voyager Pro UC

Plantronics-Voyager-Pro-UC-MDA-300px I’d like to thank William for pointing out the relatively new Plantronics MDA200 interface device. Introduced in October of this year the MDA200
is a device intended to “UC enable” existing USB connected Plantronics headsets.

In the case of a wired headset, like the .Audio or Blackwire series, it allows a headset to be easily switched between use with a desk phone and a soft phone on a computer.

In the case of a Bluetooth headset with a USB interface it allows three-way connectivity between a desk phone, computer and cell phone. That’s very interesting indeed.

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Review: Sennheiser DW Pro2 Cordless Headset

sennheiser-dw-pro2-and-Polycom-phones-250As you may already know, I believe that a headset is an important part of a sound strategy for effective communications in the home office. In fact, I’ve used a number or cordless headsets around my home office. Most of them, like the Plantronics Savi Go and Voyager Pro UC, were Bluetooth devices that were used in two roles; in the office and with a mobile phone. This meant that in the office they were used in conjunction with a soft phone on my desktop PC.

Over time I found that I really preferred to use the wonderful dedicated SIP phone that occupied the other corner of my desk. None of my existing headsets worked with my Polycom Soundpoint IP650 or VVX-1500, the two phones that have dominated my desktop the past few years.

To gain some insight I decided to poll a few knowledgeable people about their preferred headsets. Some of their responses referenced companies and products that were known to me, but one reply was completely unexpected…Sennheiser!

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Counterpath Weekend Sale on Bria 3.0

counterpath bria 3Counterpath is without a doubt the leader in commercial soft phones. I’ve used numerous version of their products over the years, and found them to be robust & reliable. Thus the fact that they’re selling Bria 3.0 for Mac & Windows at a discount this weekend is worth a mention.

You’ll find Bria 3.0 is very capable, able to handle both HDVoice and video.  It’s one of the test targets that I routinely use when evaluating new devices for SIP interoperability.

Around Pixel Power Bria is the soft phone of choice for our travelling sales staff. Of course, they offer Bria iPhone and Bria Android editions as well, making it a well rounded product family.