TMCnet - World's Largest Communications and Technology Community



tmc logo
November 2008 | Volume 11/ Number 11
Special Focus

Review of ClearOne CHAT 50 USB Plus Personal Speaker Phone

By: Richard “Zippy” Grigonis

ClearOne (News - Alert) Communications, Inc.
Edgewater Corporate Park South Tower
5225 Wiley Post Way Suite 500
Salt Lake City, UT 84116
Phone: 1-801-975-7200 or 1-800-945-7730

RATINGS (0 — 5)
Installation: 5
Usability: 5
Documentation: 5
Performance: 5
Features: 5
Overall: 5

The ClearOne Communications offers what they call the industry’s first enterprise personal conferencing phone. Yours Truly got a hold of their cute little CHAT 50, which looks like the baby brother of their 3-microphone CHAT 150 that connects to most major enterprise phone models (Avaya 2400, 4600, and 9600; Cisco (News - Alert) 7940, 7960, and 7970, etc.), capable of instantly transforming them into high-performance conference phones.

In the case of the CHAT 50, the idea here is to take ClearOne’s excellent hands-free, full-duplex, echo cancelling technology and imbue it into a small, portable device for habitual travelers and road warriors – a diminutive gizmo that, nevertheless, has the ability to connect to a range of available devices for conferencing purposes whenever the need arises. Indeed, the versatile little CHAT 50 can connect to laptops, Macs, iPods, MP3 players, PCs and cell phones. (The CHAT 50 USB Plus comes with a USB cable, and a 2.5mm-3.5mm cable which connects to the headset jacks of both home/business phones as well as most cell phones.)

You can use it with Internet telephony software and services such as Skype or Vonage and a range of VoIP softphones from companies such as Avaya (News - Alert), Cisco and Nortel (Connectivity to telephones is limited to specific models. Cables that connect to the RJ-9 headset jack of certain Avaya, Cisco, and Inter-Tel (News - Alert) models are available separately from ClearOne.)

The CHAT 50 even works as an outstanding speakerphone with web conferencing applications such as LiveMeeting, Sametime, and WebEx. If you’re doing some quick instant messaging, you can now also do an audio chat. Or, if you just need a speaker, you can use it for full-band audio playback with the usual gang of media players (QuickTime, RealPlayer, Windows Media Player) through the single speaker.

If you get bored on the road, you can do some PC-based gaming and use the CHAT 50 with TeamSpeak, a client server program used by online game team mates to speak with each over the Internet. (It’s also used by some small businesses as a VoIP softphone to avoid long distance charges, or for personal communication with friends and family.)

Quick Installation

Configuring the CHAT 50 using my Windows XP Pro laptop was a breeze. You just insert the enclosed CD in the CD-ROM/DVD drive, and then just follow a few instructions by the SetupWizard. You then take the included USB 2.0 cable, connect one end to the CHAT 50 and the other to a USB port on your computer. You then start the Chat 50 configuration software by double-clicking the ClearOne Chat icon that gets placed on the desktop. You then click the “Device Setup” button and click on the type of device/environment you want to use the CHAT 50 for (e.g., Cell Phone, Gaming, MP3 Player, PC & Laptop, Telephone, Video Conferencing). You then click on the manufacturer of your device (for a cell phone, the choices would be: Audiovox, Compaq, Ericsson (News - Alert)/Sony, LG, Motorola, Nokia, Samsung, Sanyo, etc.) You then click on the model of your device, then click the “Apply to Chat” button to solidify these audio settings. If you’re working with a device other than a computer, you then connect your CHAT 50 to the device you just selected.

Interestingly, if you connect to an analog device, you can leave the CHAT 50 connected to your PC and then it will be powered through the USB 2.0 cable, which eliminates the need to plug in the enclosed power supply.

Since all audio devices have different audio characteristics, you should customize the CHAT 50s audio setting for whatever application and device you’re using. (Instructions appear in the “Optimizing Sound Quality” section of the user manual.)

The Quick Start Guide illustrates and explains how to connect a CHAT 50 to several different kinds of devices. It’s all quite easy and straightforward. In all, the CHAT 50 is great communications accessory for anybody who must instantly set up a home office away from home. IT

» Internet Telephony Magazine Table of Contents

Today @ TMC
Upcoming Events
ITEXPO West 2012
October 2- 5, 2012
The Austin Convention Center
Austin, Texas
The World's Premier Managed Services and Cloud Computing Event
Click for Dates and Locations
Mobility Tech Conference & Expo
October 3- 5, 2012
The Austin Convention Center
Austin, Texas
Cloud Communications Summit
October 3- 5, 2012
The Austin Convention Center
Austin, Texas