SoundPoint® Pro SE-225 Professional Conferencer with Dual Mics
by Jim Hanks
A few decades back, speakerphones changed the way businesses communicate. Suddenly,
workers could keep their hands free, roam around the office, and allow others
to spontaneously join conversations. Speakerphones promised to cut the cord
that tethered employees to standard telephones.
Unfortunately, there was a problem: most speakerphones weren't very good. Some phones used half-duplex
rather than full-duplex technology, causing conversations to
be clipped or chopped off when more than one person attempted to speak at the
same time. Some models were so poorly designed that users had to talk to the
microphones as if they were aging relatives. Other phones allowed you to make
conference calls but had unacceptable audio quality between second and third
parties. Add complicated operating instructions to the fray, and it's not surprising
that most buyers didn't use their speakerphones as often as they thought they
As welcome relief to those who've encountered the previous problems, Polycom
has introduced a new version of their teleconferencing speakerphone. Utilizing
the same technology that has made them the front-runner in the conferencing
market, Polycom's SoundPoint® Pro SE-225
has excellent speaker clarity, 360°
microphone sensitivity, and all the features of a high-end office telephone
(Caller ID, speed-dialing, 2-line capabilities, and so on). If your office can
benefit from a speakerphone with teleconferencing capabilities (or if you want
your office phone to have such abilities), the SoundPoint Pro is a good investment
is quick and intuitive. Polycom supplies a 7-foot extension cord that plugs
into the back of the SoundPoint Pro, at the other end are ports for your incoming
phone lines and an AC adapter. By using this convenience, cord clutter is reduced
and portability is much better—i.e., when you need to move the phone to the
center of your desk or table, you don't have to worry about how much cord length
you need from your phone lines and your AC adapter; everything is contained
within one cable.
Once the phone is powered, the 32-character, 2-line LCD provides prompts for
programming everything from the clock to custom ringers for each line.
In addition to microphone sensitivity, one of the best things about the SE-225
is the simple layout of the phone. You can toggle between speakerphone and headset
modes with the press of their respective buttons (which then indicate activity
with a red or green light). When you pick up the handset, the other modes disengage
to permit regular telephone use.
If more than one person is in the room—or you need to move around while speaking—pressing
the REAR MIC button will activate the second microphone, giving you 360° microphone
sensitivity. The dual microphones and the speaker's sound quality are what distinguish
the SE-225 from most of the ordinary speakerphones on the market today. Background
noises are virtually eliminated and the incoming voice is always clear and full.
While testing this product in the speakerphone mode, I was able to walk down
the hall outside my office and still maintain a clear conversation.
Both of the microphones are full duplex, which means you won't have to worry
about your callers' words getting cut off when you begin to talk. Unlike speakerphones
that use half-duplex microphones, the SE-225 allows conference calls to be casual
and free flowing, much like a face-to-face conversation; meanwhile, you can
walk anywhere in the room while you speak.
If 360° microphone sensitivity isn't important to you, the less expensive SoundPoint
Pro SE-220 has the same features as the SE-225 without the second microphone.
3-Way conferencing mode
To monitor conference status, notification lights are provided on the LINE1,
LINE2, MUTE, and CONFERENCE buttons. Initiating a conference call is just a
matter of pressing CONFERENCE when you have people on both lines. Once finished,
you can hang up on one of the parties by pressing their line button (1 or 2),
or you can terminate both connections by pressing CONFERENCE again. Operation
couldn't be simpler.
In addition to its speakerphone and teleconferencing abilities, the SE-225 also
provides features found on high-end office telephones.
Caller ID - When a call arrives, the name, telephone number, incoming
line number, and time are displayed. This information can be easily transferred
to speed-dial or can be used to return the call directly. The only thing I didn't
like about this phone is that it doesn't notify you of missed calls on the initial
display screen; and to get to the Caller ID list, you have to press a few buttons.
Outgoing call history - Whether you dial a number manually, use speed-dialing,
or call directly from the Caller ID list, the last 99 numbers you called (as
well as the time you called them) are stored in the outgoing call history. If
a name is associated with the number, it will also be displayed. This is an
excellent convenience, because after you've used this phone for a few weeks,
you will rarely have to manually dial a number.
Speed-dialing - From the Caller ID or outgoing call lists, up to 99
numbers can be transferred into speed-dialing. Names and numbers can also be
Integrated headset amplifier - The base unit has a built-in amplifier that
accommodates headsets with 2.5 mm plugs. Once you connect a headset, volume
levels can be adjusted with the unit's up and down arrow buttons and you can
hang the headset itself on the headset stand (included). If you don't have a
headset, a discounted model can be purchased along with the SoundPoint
Data port - To keep you from searching for an available phone jack when
you need to plug in your modem or fax machine, a data jack is available on the
back of the base unit.
The SoundPoint Pro delivers all of the features you'd find in a top-of-the-line
conferencing unit as well as the conveniences of a high-end office phone. The
base unit's speaker output is rich and full, and the front and rear microphones
deliver excellent clarity. For $249.99, the SE-225 is a wise investment for
anyone who makes frequent conference calls or would prefer to work with their
|What I Liked Best
||What I Didn't Like
- Easy setup
- 360° noise-canceling microphones
- Full-duplex speakerphone
- Rich sound output from speaker
- Simple base unit design
- 99-Number incoming and outgoing call lists
- Built-in headset amplifier
- Primary display screen doesn't indicate missed calls