The 7 Best USB Speakerphones
7. Logitech Mobile P710e
6. mVox MV100
5. Sennheiser TW9094
4. Jabra Speak410
3. HuddleCamHD HuddlePod Air
2. Plantronics P420 Calisto
1. ClearOne 910-156-250
Why USB Speakerphones Are So Useful
If you've ever been on a marathon phone session, you know that after a while your ears can begin to hurt from all that pressure. If that phone session happens to have coincided with any activity that required the use of both of your hands, then you probably held the phone up to your ear with the help of your shoulder, which undoubtedly left you sore and fatigued on that side of your body.
The speakerphone was designed to solve this problem, freeing up your hands without having to burden your shoulders, neck, and ears. Today, a lot of our phone conversations take place on mobile devices. These conveniently have speaker phones built into them, but that doesn't nullify the usefulness of a USB speakerphone. If anything, the growth of these and other technologies has created more reasons than ever to own and use a high-quality USB speakerphone.
The most common environment in which a USB speakerphone is liable to find consistent use is in the office. Small offices in particular rely on free services like Skype to conduct meetings and interviews when face-to-face interactions aren’t possible. In these instances, relying on the microphone or speaker built into a computer may result in poor quality audio on both ends of the conversation, and high-end conferencing hardware is prohibitively expensive.
One of the ways that USB speakerphones improve audio quality is with ambient noise cancellation technologies. These allow the units to effectively cut out a variety of background noises created in the office environment that might make you more difficult to hear on the other end. Good USB speakerphones also have superior speakers to those built into small laptops, tablets, and cell phones, so you and anyone else in the conference room will have an easier time hearing the other caller.
These features can greatly benefit home users, as well. Just because you don’t run an office doesn’t mean that you can’t enjoy the leisure of a hands-free phone conversation, especially if you’d like to conduct that conversation while performing other tasks around the house like washing dishes, taking notes on the conversation, or just enjoying a little bit of food. They're also a great way to gather the family around for a conversation with an elderly loved one who might not be technologically savvy enough to get her Skype or Facetime working.
How To Choose The Right USB Speakerphone For You
It would be easy to think that the purchase of a USB speakerphone would come down simply to whichever model is the loudest and the cheapest. While both volume and price are important considerations, there are a few things to look into when evaluating one USB speakerphone against another that will help you find a product that satisfies all your calling needs.
In all likelihood, the most important consideration when beginning to evaluate your speakerphone options is connectivity. Obviously, a USB speakerphone is designed to connect via USB to whatever device you use to place a call. If you’re running Skype off a computer with a USB port, that shouldn’t be a problem. Things get a little more complicated when you start to think about using your USB speakerphone with a cell phone or tablet. Depending on the brand of phone you use, you may need an adapter to successfully connect the speakerphone to your device.
As we mentioned above, some USB speakerphones include a noise cancellation feature. If you work or use your speaker phone in an environment that suffers from anything like ambient air conditioning hum or the chattering of coworkers or family members, you’re going to want a unit with this feature.Even if your environment is usually quiet, this is a good thing to have. You never know when someone is going to start running a leaf blower or lawnmower right outside your window, potentially ruining a call.
Other features to look out for when searching for your perfect USB speakerphone include things like cameras, mute buttons, and cable length. A camera integrated into your USB speakerphone will have the obvious advantage of providing video along with your audio signal in conferencing software or over programs like Skype. Mute buttons, especially those prominently placed on the speakerphone, will allow you to quickly cut off the audio signal to anyone on the other end of the call if you need to have a private conversation with your partners.
Finally, some speakerphones come with USB cables hardwired into the units. It’s important that these cables be long enough to serve your purpose, but in general they are not advisable. A hardwired USB cable will result in a less reliable unit, as you’ll have to replace the whole thing if that cable should ever fail.
Other Personal Office Essentials
Office life in particular can be grueling. Endless meetings, uncooperative fax machines, and intolerable bosses are just some of the miseries you may endure daily. The speakerphone was conceived of as a way to make life a little easier. A good USB speakerphone can make your day go by that much more smoothly, but it isn’t the only thing that you can add to an office environment to create a greater sense of ease.
Anything ergonomic is usually a smart edition. Whether it’s a chair to improve your posture, keyboard to help prevent repetitive strain injuries, or a standing desk to keep you from spending too much time on your rear, items that take care of your body will ultimately improve your mood and performance.
It’s also a good idea to think critically about the office space itself. This can apply to anything from the art you choose to hang on the walls to the color you choose to paint those walls themselves. Certain colors and patterns have been shown to increase productivity and lighten people’s moods, but make sure you stick with a decor that you find most pleasing, even if the eggheads warn against it. After all, it’s your space, whether it’s a corner office or a little cubicle.