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Evaluating USB Headsets for Interpreters

This is admittedly a deep dive into a niche topic. It stems from work done for ZipDX, but is more technical than most audiences can stand. Nonetheless, those of you who frequent these waters may find it interesting.

plantronics-blackwire-c320-usb-headset.jpgWhy Do This?

One of the more fascinating aspects of my work at ZipDX involves the interpreters engaged in the use of our multilingual conference capability. These people, who are located all over the globe, are simply fascinating people. They have incredible skills with languages, and finely tuned sensitivity to the nuance of cross-cultural communication. It’s positively inspirational to hear them at work, and very gratifying to support them in their work.

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Polycom VVX Series & USB Headsets

I love when things “just work.” This happens so rarely as to be noteworthy. What follows is a nice example with respect to my Polycom VVX-600 and a USB-attached headset.

This afternoon a plaintive beep in my ear told me that the battery on my Sennheiser DW Pro2 cordless DECT headset was nearly depleted. This when I still had a lot of my working day left. Looking across the room I saw a wired headset that I have been evaluating for some ZipDX applications. It was a Passport 21P Headset, fitted with a Plantronics DA40 USB Digital Adapter.

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Webcams 7: VDO360 Serious Webcams For Business

It was around a year ago that went on the hunt for a USB 3.0 webcam, only to find that they were essentially nonexistent. In my quest what I discovered was a range of products beyond the familiar consumer webcams. These are serious webcams for business, offered by companies like VDO360.

That companies’ initial product, the VPTZH-01 HD USB PTZ Video Camera, was novel for its VISCA compatible pan-tilt-zoom (PTZ) capability. It was introduced at around $1399, a price that was heralded as a breakthrough at the time. Award-winning in fact. The current street price, as exemplified by Amazon, seems to be $999.

The VPTZH-01 HD USB PTZ Video Camera is a USB 2.0 connected device, with all that entails. The sensor is capable of delivering images up to 1920 x 1080 pixels (1080p.) Most applications will only manage to access a 1280 x 720 pixel (720p) stream since they are taking uncompressed frames from the camera.

Applications that are sophisticated enough to setup the camera to deliver a stream of MJPEG compressed images will be able to get full 1080p quality for the effort. The MJPEG compression overcomes the bandwidth constraint of the USB 2.0 connection to the host computer.

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Making Some Noise About Noise

Snapper-lawn-mowerThis morning my normally tranquil home office was pierced by the sound of a neighbors lawnmower. The lawnmower, while aggravating, is just the lead-in to that most vile of power tools…the leaf blower. Leaf blowers should be outlawed.

All of this has thinking about noise. In even modest amounts, noise degrades our ability to communicate. Beyond simply annoying, it hampers productivity. Therefore noise has very real costs. Nowhere is this more true than in the case of conference calls or video conference calls. These are cases where extraneous noise should be avoided.

The classic conference call wisdom, good advise to this day, is that all participants to should diligently mute themselves when not speaking. People being what they are, many do not know of or act upon this belief.

When using a managed conference bridge, like ZipDX, the call moderator has the ability to mute a noisy participant, ensuring that their local acoustic reality doesn’t degrade the call experience for everyone. That’s great, but it really just allows the moderator to compensate for the fact that someone on the call is exhibiting poor conference call etiquette.

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Ipevo Strikes Again With The VX-1 Internet Conference Station

ipevo vx-1 internate conference station 300pxIf you’ve been loitering hereabouts regularly for a long while, you may recall that I was once seeking an affordable USB-attached conference phone. I tried the Ipevo X1N6 Internet Conference Phone and found it lacking.

Not long after I published that review the company contacted me, suggesting that the device I had was simply faulty, and offering a replacement. I was surprised at the offer, but I accepted.

Given the reality of production in batches in Asia, it took some months to get the replacement. When it arrived it behaved exactly like the first. On that basis I decided to let the matter drop.

Last month I was again contacted by Ipevo, this time with the offer a sample of their new VX-1 Internet Conference Station for evaluation. I admit that my curiosity got the better of me. Had they really learned anything from that older product? They were taking a risk in making the offer as I had not been kind at our first encounter.

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