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Here Come The Gadgets

By Greg Galitzine


Don�t look now, but just in time for those responsible people who start their holiday shopping season early, here come the VoIP enabled gadgets! While the plethora of Skype (News - Alert)-centric toys for big boys and girls might make it seem that Niklas Zennstrom is Santa and the North Pole is really an R&D lab in Tallinn, the fact of the matter is that Skype simply has one of the better developer programs since it launched its Skype Certified program, and it has potentially the biggest consumer audience. Skype works with more than 400 hardware partners, which means there�s definitely going to be someone on your list who would just love the gift of VoIP. And with too many downloads to count, there�s likely someone on your list who�s using Skype as you read this.

This week, both Logitech and US Robotics announced new Skype Certified hardware products. Logitech, which seems to be among the largest developers of Skype Certified gadgets, announced three additions to its product family:

� Logitech EasyCall Desktop is a combination of a mouse, keyboard, headset, and speakerphone.

� Logitech Cordless Internet Handset offers the familiarity of a traditional phone handset and can be used to make Internet-based calls from anywhere in the home with the push of a button.

� Logitech Cordless Headset for PC and Mobile Phones fits comfortably on one ear, enabling PCs call as you they roam freely around the home; it also works as a Bluetooth mobile phone headset.

On the same day, USRobotics announced the shipment of two newly Skype Certified handsets:

� The USR9601 USB Internet Phone, which features a bright, high-resolution, blue back-lit LCD screen that provides access to contact and call status, and supports Skype caller ID.

� The USR9602 USB Internet Mini Phone, which serves as an alternative to expensive headsets and is priced with entry level users in mind.

Now, while not technically a �new� gadget, having been released in May, the Polycom (News - Alert) Communicator (a blue one please!) is something I would love to see in my stocking. The USB speakerphone delivers high-fidelity wideband voice quality, and Polycom�s Acoustic Clarity Technology eliminates echo and feedback.

I was on the road conducting a conference call with my cell phone tucked between my ear and my shoulder, clicking through PowerPoint slides when I jealously spied someone using a Communicator. That�s when I thought, �I need to get one of these gadgets.�

The Polycom Communicator can also be used as a high-fidelity speaker for other PC applications, including audio presentations, music, games, and so on. It also has a built-in stereo headset port for private conversations.

While we�re on the subject of VoIP enabled gadgets, Sony announced the VAIO Mouse Talk. For some strange �consumers-will-probably-love-this� reason, Sony has morphed an optical mouse and a VoIP phone into one creative combination: The VAIO Mouse Talk product is a multi-functional mouse that flips open to become a VoIP phone, enabling users to make and receive high-quality calls.

The mouse component of the product operates like a regular optical mouse, offering a scroll wheel that enables users to navigate documents and Web pages without using an on-screen scroll bar.

The VoIP phone portion of the VAIO Mouse Talk offers echo cancellation technology and clear call quality. The phone connects to any notebook or desktop via USB. Most importantly for gift-ability: It is available in several colors.

If you�re not in the market for one of the products I mentioned above, there are countless other items available to help enhance the VoIP experience. Bluetooth headsets, cordless handsets, webcams, VoIP sticks, analog phone gateways... there truly is something for everyone.

It�s not too early. Beat the rush. Happy Shopping!

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