UC3 News — 12 June 2017
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Solving the Desktop Audio Conundrum by Dave Michels

A look at the new Jabra Speak 710

The desktop audio conundrum is about balancing the need for quality audio conferencing with the desire for high fidelity music. It’s a problem on a desktop, and it’s even more of a problem on the road with a mobile device.

A laptop’s built-in microphone and speaker are ok for a simple call, but they aren’t acceptable as a conference device with multiple people. They aren’t acceptable for quality music either. And, for me, the problem is getting even worse because sometimes I have only my tablet – and those dime-size speakers are completely useless.

Thanks to Bluetooth, USB, and headphone jacks there’s no shortage of options. Quality speaker-saucers, such as the Jabra Speak 410, have been available for years, and many companies make quality Bluetooth music speakers. Now the problem is my suitcase is getting too heavy and my dongle bag too full of chargers and connectors.

I’ve been wanting a single solution for years, but admittedly it’s a tricky one. Conference saucers face the ceiling, as they are designed for omnidirectional use, but music speakers are best when aimed at the listener. Also, call me old-school, but I prefer two speakers for stereo music.

The best solution I have found is the new Jabra Speak 710. It’s an evolution of the speaker-saucer that is great for music too. Each Jabra 710 is a completely self-contained unit that includes a 10-watt speaker, battery, an attached USB cord, a metal kickstand, and Bluetooth/USB dongle. It all fits snuggly into an included neoprene carrying case.

The built-in battery means you don’t need power to use it. The attached USB cord means no dongle bag. The cord wraps around the saucer like a reel, so it can be completely or partially unraveled. The kickstand means the unit will stand tall or lie flat depending on the situation. The paired Bluetooth-USB dongle (BT ver 4.2 up to 33 meters) makes wireless laptop connectivity a snap.

The Bluetooth is where the Jabra Speak 710 really shines. It can pair with up to eight devices, so it can be ready for laptop, desktop, tablet, and phone all the time. But here’s the clincher, it also pairs with another Speak 710 for stereo playback or larger room audio conferencing. To pair two Speak 710s, just press a button.

If you prefer a wired connection, then use the attached USB cable. Regardless of whether it’s wired or wireless, the USB cord provides the power to run or charge the battery.

All the buttons are capacitive touch and located around the edge – so there are no moving parts. They light up for easy use (and dim when not needed). There are dedicated phone controls, and if you don’t have anyone to talk to, there’s a “Smart button” to wake whatever voice assistant your device happens to use (iOS, Android, or Windows).

The Speak 710 has all the expected UC certifications, including Avaya, Microsoft, Cisco, Mitel, Unify, ALE, and so on. They are lightweight, and I’m excited to finally have a solution that lets me rock and conference.

 

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