Friday, November 11, 2005

Astound your fellow geeks: pull out a SKYPE USB speakerphone at your next meeting

[ MVOX ]
miniVox MV100 :A portable DSP based USB speakerphone


* DSP voice processing for noise suppression and echo cancellation
* Full duplex speakerphone with 110dB peak volume
* USB plug and play, no driver installation
* Headset connection
* Credit card size and only 1.5 ounces
Very cool. Plug it into your laptop and go. I want one. They have a fancier version for more money.

Update 11/11/05: The Amazon Reviews are positive, and one has this amazing comment:
Ibought this to use with my Mac for Skyping and Gizmo'ing. I wanted something small and the optional headset jack was a plus for privacy. Be aware that the headset jack fits your standard Cell phone headset, not a standard PC headset. It works okay, as advertised.

Positives: Works with no drivers, small, sound quality is above average, better than the built in microphone on my iBook.

Possible negatives: Draws too much power to plug into the usb port on my keyboard, and the cell phone size audio jack requires you purchase a cell phone style headset.

What I'm actually using now is a dinky, single ear/mic headset with a plantronic's usb headset adaptor.
For me that "negative" is a huge feature. I've been looking for a usb device that would let me use a regular small cell phone earset with Skype. I've not found anything ... until now. That makes the speakerphone functionality almost a nice "extra". I wonder about the usb power drain however. I note the higher end device in the same line comes with a battery.

Another review mentions it uses a 'mini-B' connector. Wow. Another positive. I carry those anyway when I travel, that's how my mouse connects. I use a retractable cable.

Update 11/11/05: Mine arrived today. I tested it on Skype. Sound quality is marginal, but Skype quality is poor to begin with -- this could have been all Skype issues. Still, it's workable. The device is quite compact, about the size of a very cell cell phone or a compact pager. Very light. No mute or volume control -- have to do that using software. The included USB cable is cheap, long and bulky, I use the elegant Zip-LINQ retractable mini-B cable that came with my mouse. It works with a cell phone earset and has better sound then -- this, in fact, is really what I wanted. They even include a cheap earset, which is a nice touch.

It will be far easier to travel with this than with a bulky USB headset. My ideal device would cost the same but:
  • dump the speaker phone, so make it smaller (use a cell phone earset)
  • use a built-in short USB cable that nests in the body of the device
  • add a mute button
This isn't my ideal, but it's the best I've seen so far!

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