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One other small complaint – Because the headset connects to the base station via Bluetooth, the range is limited to about 30 feet between the user and the desktop phone. This may be a problem for home workers who need more range if they are on a phone call and walk away from their home office to go to the kitchen, for example. Other systems (including ones from Plantronics) that use DECT for their transmission range would likely fill that role, but Plantronics says at the moment, DECT radios are too large to be placed in a mobile phone-style headset.
Grade: 4.5 stars (out of five)
The scoop: Mobile Speakerphone P710e, by Logitech, about $170.
What is it? The P710e is part of Logitech's "For Business" line of gear aimed at office workers, and includes things like better webcams, headsets, keyboards and now this, a speakerphone unit. This solid-yet-light speakerphone provides better audio quality for your mobile phone or tablet - it aims to improve voice calls than the built-in speakerphone on those devices. The system is flexible, able to connect via Bluetooth, near-field communications (NFC), or USB to a PC or Macintosh. The USB cable is integrated into the unit, making it available for easy access for recharging (it comes with a wall adapter as well). The top of the P710e slides out a bit to reveal a stand area where you can place your phone or tablet. This gives you an instant stand to improve FaceTime or video chats with a colleague, or if you need a stand for a tablet for when you're watching a video, and you want to use the P710e as your audio speaker.
Other features include touch controls on the top of the unit to raise/lower the volume, as well as the ability to answer (incoming only) and end a phone call. LEDs on the unit indicate visually when a call is coming in, as well as your volume level. A headphone jack on the side lets you plug in headphones if you want to take a call private (or listen to music privately without attaching to your phone/tablet).
Why it's cool: Mobile workers who use their phone's internal speakerphone for conference call will likely enjoy the improved audio quality from the P710e. The device features digital signal processing, sideband audio, acoustic echo cancellation and a noise-canceling microphone to improve audio on voice calls. A dynamic equalizer automatically switches sound quality depending on whether the user is listening to music or using their voice. Support for Microsoft Lync's UC platform, as well as Cisco's platform and Skype mean this will work with almost any VoIP environment.
Some caveats: At the upper volume levels the speaker does tend to crack a bit, but this is only a problem if you're using this as an audio entertainment speaker at a loud office party - for regular conference-calls, you likely won't notice.
Grade: 5 stars (out of five)
Shaw can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter: @shawkeith
Read more about wireless & mobile in Network World's Wireless & Mobile section.