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ClearOne is a Clear Choice

By: Richard "Zippy" Grigonis

ClearOne (News - Alert) ( offers some of the world’s finest audio conferencing systems and other related products for audio, video and web conferencing applications. Indeed, their diverse product line has something to meet just about any type of audio conferencing need, from the office desktop to large group conferencing environments such as boardrooms, training centers, courtrooms and auditoriums. They even offer microphones and conferencing furniture.

ClearOne’s Mark Child, Director of Product Marketing, Telephony, says, “For many years we’ve operated in the high-end, professionally-installed conferencing systems market, which is a fairly narrow channel. In the worldwide tabletop market, however, we are a fairly recent entrant. About five years ago our first tabletop products were launched, infused with all of the same great technology we’re famous for in our high-end systems. So perhaps my message to the public is, ‘There is an Alternative. And we are the Better Alternative’. There are many reasons why.”

“Our audio conferencing technology is used by many Fortune 500 companies,” says Child. “We have both analog and IP-based products. On the analog side, the technology has been established for a very long time. Plug our products into a conference room phone jack and they work extremely well.”

Child elaborates: “We have a family of tabletop conference phones called MAX. The MAX EX is an analog conference phone that provides top-notch, full-duplex audio in small- to medium-sized conference rooms and includes echo cancellation, noise reduction, and first mic priority. For larger rooms you can link up to four MAX EX phone units — called MAXAttach — for much better microphone and loudspeaker coverage.”

“MAXAttach EX is an expandable tabletop analog conference phone that comes with additional phone units that can be daisy chained together to provide full-duplex audio in medium- to large-sized rooms,” says Child. “You can daisy chain up to four phone units for unbeatable microphone and loudspeaker coverage in larger rooms. All of our analog MAX products work with any standard analog PBX (News - Alert). Our wireless version of MAX, called MAX Wireless, is one of our most popular analog products.”

“Our ability to daisy chain phone ‘pods’ together distinguishes us from our competitors,” adds Child. “Other manufacturers just add extension mics to their audio conferencing systems, which allows more people to be heard, but there’s still only a single loudspeaker and keypad. That makes it difficult for people at the ends of a long conference table to hear what’s going on and for them to reach the keypad in order to mute or add someone else to the call.”

“On the IP side,” says Child, “we completely support SIP (Session Initiation Protocol (News - Alert)), the standard call control signaling protocol used in IP communications. You can plug our MAX IP equipment into just about any SIP-based IP PBX and it will run right out of the box.”

“At our Salt Lake City headquarters we use a Cisco (News - Alert) IP telephony system,” says Child. “In my office, I use our Chat 150 speakerphone, which plugs directly into the telephone handset on my desktop. With the Chat 150, I don’t need to pull an extra phone line into my office. In this way I retain all of the functionality built into my handset and it’s easy to conduct an ad hoc, hands-free audio conference. There is also a version of the Chat 150 that works with Avaya IP handsets. The Chat 150 is also a USB device that can be used with Skype (News - Alert) or the softphone client on my PC.”

“The award-winning Chat 50 is an even smaller USB audio device, about the size of a deck of cards,” says Child. “It targets the traveling professional or the home-based office worker, somebody who doesn’t have a big office or conference room, and may want to use something like Skype to make phone calls. When I’m on the road I use the softphone client on my laptop to dial through the broadband connection back to our IP PBX. The Chat 50 is very easy to carry around and it has great sound quality. Our competition relies on the processing power of your laptop or PC to do the audio processing work, so there’s no DSP [Digital Signal Processor (News - Alert)] in the phone unit itself. Our differentiator is that we have the processor power built into the box itself, giving the user a much better audio experience.”

“We’re also participating in the surge in unified communications,” says Child. “We partner with Vidyo (News - Alert), a company that is doing some really forward-looking things involving video conferencing on laptops and PCs. They use our Chat products as the audio component to their video conferencing system, because our equipment is such an easy add-on. You just plug it in and it becomes the default audio peripheral for windows and then you just do your video conferencing with their equipment.”

“Finally, we’re looking to grow the number of distributors and resellers around the world who carry our products,” says Child. “For those telephony and IP resellers looking for a better alternative at an affordable price, they should give us a call and come on board.” IT

Richard Grigonis (News - Alert) is Executive Editor of TMC’s IP Communications Group.

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