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The Polycom VoiceStation™ 100 Professional Teleconferencer

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Most speakerphones are immediately recognizable from the other end. Say hello and there's a tinny, far-off "Hello," and then—it seems—an echoing of the rest of your caller's words through the office before they're transmitted to you. Worse, if the speakerphone isn't full duplex, you have to alternate your conversation to avoid cutting each other off. In short, speakerphones can be disappointingly unprofessional.

The problem isn't the concept, but rather, the technology. Many speakerphones work fine when you're talking to friends but they aren't always suitable for business purposes. In the past, you could buy an audioconferencing unit and get business-quality voice transmissions, but the system was typically intended for large conference rooms—and often required a large, even thousand-dollar investment.

Having recognized this hole in the market, Polycom now offers its VoiceStation 100. With full-duplex capabilities, 3 noise-canceling microphones, and a professional look, this new unit delivers high-quality audioconferencing performance at the small-office level. At a down-to-earth $299.99, it's a great addition to any small or ordinary-sized room.

Setup


Setup of the VoiceStation 100 is incredibly easy. First, insert the VoiceStation's power supply plug into a nearby outlet. On this plug you will see 2 integrated phone ports. Take one of the 2 supplied phone cords from the VoiceStation box and connect it to one of the power plug's phone ports, and into VoiceStation. Now take the other phone cord from the box and plug that into the other open phone port on the power supply plug, and into a nearby phone jack. That's it. The only restriction of this system is that your incoming phone signal must be analog.


Features

With 3 highly sensitive microphones positioned around the triangular-shaped unit, the VoiceStation 100 is ideal for meetings with 4 people or fewer. The microphones eliminate background noise and deliver 360° of coverage—you will never have to raise your voice to be heard. And with its full-duplex properties, multiple people can talk at the same time for a free-flowing conversation. Through the unit's speaker, you'll hear rich, full incoming sound.

If you haven't used an audioconferencing unit before, you should know that it's basically no more complicated than a regular speakerphone. At least, this one isn't. To make a call, simply press TALK, dial your number (the tones for which are politely reduced in volume), and you're ready to conference.

In fact, ease of use is one of the best things about the VoiceStation. Besides the dialpad, there are only 7 buttons: TALK, REDIAL, FLASH, VOLUME UP, VOLUME DOWN, MUTE, and HOLD. Three indicator lights positioned around the unit indicate just which one of these modes is in operation. When a call is in progress, the indicator lights will remain green until one of two buttons is pressed: MUTE turns the lights red to show that the microphones are off; and HOLD makes the lights flash red until the call is resumed. When the unit rings for an incoming call, you'll see flashing green lights.

External ports
If you already have a regular telephone, a fax machine, or a modem plugged into your only phone jack, don't worry. Included on the power supply jack is an extra port for such purposes. Also on the power jack is an AUX OUT port. This RCA-type connection allows you to run both sides of a conference call into a recorder or PC, to broadcast streaming audio over the internet, for example.

A final word
If you need a conferencing unit for larger meetings (with more than 4 people), you might want to consider one of the Polycom SoundStations. These units offer high-quality audioconferencing and can be expanded (with external mics) to accommodate as many as 25 participants. Otherwise, the VoiceStation 100 will give you clear audioconferencing while eliminating the headaches associated with speakerphone conversations, at a cost of only $299.99. For any office or small conference room, that's an excellent investment.



What I Liked Best   What I Didn't Like
  • Easy setup
  • Three sensitive, noise-canceling microphones
  • Very good sound output
  • Data and audio ports
  • Low price
 
  • Analog phone line required



 


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