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Polycom SoundStation Premier® for Digital Lines


Due to recent events and a suffering economy, most companies have cut back on corporate travel. To maintain client relations, many have invested in audioconferencing units and have discovered their many benefits. Expensive conversations that used to take place 2 days and a thousand miles away are now immediately conducted in the conference room down the hall.

The only problem with audioconferencing units was that they required an analog phone line. So in order to communicate with clients, you had to install another phone line or buy an analog adapter.

Two products from Polycom, the leader in the audioconferencing market, solve this problem. For $649.99, the new Polycom SoundStation Premiers work with either a Nortel Meridian PBX (soon to be available on the Hello Direct web site) or an Avaya/Lucent DEFINITY ECS1.

With full rich speakers and highly sensitive microphones, every participant in large conference calls can hear and be heard—without adjusting existing telephone networks and without paying for expensive bridging services.

Setting up
In addition to the necessary cords, there are 2 major components included with each of these products: the audioconferencing unit and the interface module. Plug one cord between the interface module and a wall jack and another cord between the module and the audioconferencing unit. Then plug the AC cord between an outlet and the interface module. That's it.

The interface module also has a second port so you can connect your regular office phone.

Because you can retain your regular office phone and its features, the SoundStation's features are kept to a minimum. On the face of the unit you will find:

  • ON/OFF - for answering and hanging up
  • MUTE/HOLD - for muting all microphones or placing your caller(s) on hold
  • CONF - to add endpoints to a conference call
  • VOL - for controlling ringer volume (4 steps) and speaker volume (32 steps)
  • Numeric dialpad
  • A 16-character LCD - for Caller ID, volume levels, time of day, and call duration

Three lights at the tips of the triangular-shaped unit provide different signals for your call status: red (mute), blinking red (hold), and green (active call).

Overall, the most impressive feature of these units is their incoming and outgoing clarity. I tested the products in a large room and was able to increase the volume control well above what was required without distorting the sound. When I called a friend, I was able to walk 5 feet outside of the office and still maintain an even conversation.

Using your conferencing unit
When you wish to make a conference call, simply press the CONF button and dial a client. Once they answer, press CONF again. Repeating the same steps will allow you to add up to 5 endpoints.2 All 3 of the microphones on the SoundStation are full duplex, so participants can speak naturally, without worrying about alternating their speech.

If you have connected an office phone to the interface module, you will have additional versatility during your call. When you need to consult another person outside of the conference call, simply pick up the office phone and the conference unit will automatically be muted until you've finished your outside conversation. This feature is great for asking co-workers quick questions without disrupting the flow of large meetings.

Palm interface, optional extended mics
If you have a large meeting room you'll appreciate the Palm interface. This feature allows you to dial contact numbers from your handheld and then control the call via remote control.

Large rooms might also benefit from the optional extended microphones.3 These accessories plug into the side of the unit and offer an additional 8 feet of range. Should you want to make a private comment when using the extensions, you can either press the mute button found on the microphone, which turns off all of the unit's microphones; or you can switch off the extended microphone, which leaves the other microphones active. An additional auxiliary port on the unit allows meeting participants to wear a lapel microphone or to record the meeting with a tape recorder.

It's about saving money
And decreased travel isn't the only way a SoundStation will save you money. If you have already been conferencing with clients via telephone, you have probably been paying bridging costs to your provider. With bridging costs, a 1-hour conference call made daily for 1 month costs $1,248—almost twice the $649.99 price tag of a SoundStation.4

There are no bridging costs when using a SoundStation conferencing system.

Final thoughts
For many years, the Polycom SoundStation has provided exceptional clarity and reliability for audioconferencing needs. Meanwhile, the units have saved businesses a lot of money by eliminating travel and bridging costs. With this new line of digital-compatible SoundStations, one of the last impediments to improving client relations and maintaining a higher efficiency has been removed.

What I Liked Best
  • Analog lines or adapters not required
  • Full rich sound output
  • Highly sensitive microphones
  • Full-duplex technology
  • Ability to incorporate an office phone
  • Palm interface
  • 3-Year warranty

1 Supports the 6400, 7400, and 8400 DEFINITY series
2 Might be limited by your ECS or PBX configuration
3 Available on the 550D models
4 Based on average bridging costs as compiled by Frost & Sullivan
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