There are certainly a lot of SIP desk phones out there, with more coming every month, but I still like my Polycom VVX Series. I recently faced a task that involved creating some documentation of SIP device configurations. This gave me a chance to try a facility of the Polycom phones that I’d long known about, but never actually used…screen capture of the device menus.
The Polycom SoundPoint, VVX and SoundStation series devices running firmware v3.2 (circa 2011) or newer support easy screen capture using a web browser. That in turn makes creating pictorial documentation a lot nicer. Continue reading “Polycom Tip: Easy Screen Captures”
Not long a reader posed this question about USB speakerphone devices;
“Hi Michael – I read your blog article about chromebox for meetings. I’m in the UK and I think there will be good takeup when its launched here but I’m concerned about sound quality mic and speakers in untreated rooms. Have you found any USB table top devices matrix mics with high quality speaker that could be integrated at proportionate cost? – Thanks, John”
It’s an interesting question. As I was answering him via IM it occurred to me that the answer might be worth sharing.
There are a lot of USB attached speakerphones available. I’ve tried quite a number over the years. Some are good. Some are cheap. As you can imagine, rarely are the good ones cheap. The major difference to be considered is whether the device undre consideration is intended for use by an individual or a small group.
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.
This is a semi-rant on a somewhat common theme for me, getting the best audio quality. In pondering these two new video calling devices from Tely Labs and Biscotti one thing stands out as unfortunate…they both rely exclusively upon an array of microphones built into their respective device. I find this to be short-sighted and unnecessarily inflexible.
At both ends of the call there’s considerable room tone. In particular you can clearly hear that the conference room at Tely Labs is a simple drywall box. It sounds boomy and reverberant.
As I have described elsewhere, I find that the use of a speakerphone is always a last resort. It’s really only appropriate when you have a group of people collected for a call. To use a speakerphone when the call is just on-to-one is to permit the ambient noise and nature of the room to have undue influence in the audio quality.
Every time you make or receive a phone call it’s for a reason; there’s a point to be made, something to be communicated. Communicating effectively is critically important in business.
Anything that helps to make your message more clearly gives an advantage. Inversely, anything that makes it more difficult to communicate is, in reality, a threat to your business. This principle should be your guide as you select equipment for your small office or home office.
When considering home office telephony the technologically inclined often get bogged down in debate about the use of traditional phone service vs various forms of IP telephony. This is a big issue, with many complexities to be considered. However, there is a simpler issue that can have a dramatic impact on the enhancing your ability to communicate clearly; do you have a good headset?