ClearOne Chat 60
Jul 29, 2010 12:00 PM, By John McJunkin
A simple device for telecommuting.
The 1/2lb. tabletop unit is 3.8"x4.1"x1.8"small and unobtrusive. The loudspeaker is protected by a plastic oval grille, and at the end of the oval closest to the user, the unit's microphone is recessed into the plastic. An LED just above the microphone indicates system status. The Chat 60 sports just three buttons on its top panelvolume up, volume down, and muteand they're very clearly labeled and nicely placed (with the slightly larger and more frequently used mute button closer to the user in the front of the device). The rear panel of the Chat 60 is also simple. There is a DC power inlet for use of an optional external power supply, a USB jack that is usually used for power when plugged into a computer, and a 2.5mm jack for connection to other devices, such as traditional or cellular phones. The system is not limited to use with Skype, but that is its principal intended application.
Advanced control of the Chat 60 is available via computer when the unit is connected via USB. The unit can be optimized for use with specific telephone models, in addition to computers and videoconferencing devices. The software also facilitates firmware updating of the Chat 60, and advanced control of levels and signal routing, for instance when using external loudspeakers. Line echo cancellation is also available with this software exclusively for use with a regular telephone line. One minor disappointment here: The software is only available for Windows. While it's true that a substantial share of the laptop market is dominated by the Windows operating system, there are still millions of Apple users, even in the business domain. Hopefully ClearOne will eventually port the software to the Mac OS.
I discovered the ClearOne Chat 60 to be inexpensive, easy to use (even for nonprofessionals), and very useful for business. Traveling sales professionals and telecommuters in particular will find the device vastly improves the quality of the communication experience. And if more sophisticated solutions are necessary, I can recommend taking a look at the remainder of ClearOne's line. The Chat 60 is worth checking out.
John McJunkin is the principal of Avalon Podcasting in Chandler, Ariz. He has consulted in the development of studios and installations, and he provides high-quality podcast-production services.
- Company: ClearOne
- Product: Chat 60
- Pros: Easy to use, good quality, inexpensive.
- Cons: No support for Apple operating systems.
- Applications: Travel teleconferencing, Skype calling, telecommuting.
- Price: $149
- System requirements: Microsoft Windows XP or Vista
- Skype: 1GHz CPU, 256MB RAM
- Speaker bandwidth: 220Hz-14kHz
- Max output level: 80dB SPL @ 1ft.
- Microphone bandwidth: 20Hz-10kHz
- Line input frequency response: 20Hz-20kHz ¡¾1dB
- Maximum input level: 0dBu
- Input impedance: 10K§Ù
- Line output frequency response: 20Hz-20kHz +/- 1dB
- Maximum output level: 0dBu
- Output impedance: 50§Ù
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