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SoundPoint® Pro SE-225 Professional Conferencer with Dual Mics

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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 would.

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 at $249.99.

Setup
Setup 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.

Features
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.

Speakerphone mode
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.

Other features
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 manually entered.

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 Pro here.

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.

Recommendation
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 hands free.

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



 


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