Technology Showcase: Conference-room Telephone Systems
Apr 1, 2008 12:00 PM, By Bennett Liles
Plain old telephone service gets a boost in conferencing functionality.
The V-Hub conference phone from Bogen provides full-duplex conversation ability through a large central loudspeaker and three integral microphones placed at 120-degree intervals, using DSP-based echo cancellation. Three green LEDs flash when the muting is activated or when there is an incoming call, and they remain active during the call. The controls include mute and flash buttons; on/off; speed dial with a 10-number memory; and an LCD display screen that shows call status, phone number dialed, ringing, and volume level. The bottom of the unit holds a ringer-volume-selector switch, a wire routing channel, and an integrated power and telephone-line connector. The cables supplied includes the power line, a phone line, and an RCA connector for recording conferences with external recording equipment. The V-Hub can be found for less than $300.
A follow-on and upgrade product to the Cisco Unified IP Conference Station 7936, the 7937G carries many teleconferencing features backed by well-established Cisco voice-communication technology. The G.722 codec enables wideband acoustic frequency response. Power options include IEEE 802.3af power over Ethernet (PoE) or the Cisco Power Cube 3. This also requires the use of the 7937G Power Splitter. The external microphones have the same triangular form factor as the main unit, and they provide extended coverage for conference rooms up to 30'×40'. There is also support for a third-party wireless lapel microphone for those needing increased mobility during the conference. The backlit 255×128-pixel LCD has a 32-level grayscale and a directories feature that allows you to easily navigate the menus that categorize incoming calls and allow instant dial-back. The settings key provides a selection of background images, ringer sounds, and adjustments. Configuration can be manually or automatically set up for dynamic host configuration protocol (DHCP) or trivial file transfer protocol (TFTP) and the Cisco Unified Communications Manager. Users can also access stocks, weather, quote of the day, and other web-based information. The unit also offers a comprehensive online help feature. With its advanced features, the 7937G system retails for around $1,000.
For conference rooms with up to eight people, ClearOne Systems offers the Max Wireless, which eliminates wiring and provides mobility and adaptability among conference rooms. The unit has distributed echo cancellation, dynamic noise cancellation, and automatic level control that adjusts to the incoming audio level. The first-mic priority feature selects from the three microphones and activates the one closest to the person speaking to prevent any hollow-room effect. Wireless communication is secure through the use of 64-bit encrypted communication on digital spread-spectrum technology in the 2.4GHz band. The base unit connects to a power source and a phone line for a transmission distance up to 150ft., which allows the phone to be picked up and moved to any nearby conference room. The tabletop telephone unit has a 12-hour battery life to accommodate long conversations without worrying about losing power, and the dual-function power supply allows conferencing while it is charging. When the battery is low or the phone is out of range of the base unit, an audible warning will sound and a paging button on the base unit will locate the telephone. The base unit, with in-use and power LEDs, also has a recording output with a 2.5mm mini jack for external recording equipment. Features include a 10-number speed-dial memory, ringer switch, and manual loudspeaker-volume control. The phone may also be used through a digital adapter for operation on a digital PBX.
For small-and-medium-sized conference rooms, Cortelco offers the CONF410PAK full-duplex conference telephone with RJ-11 PSTN connections. The unit's features include an on/off button with LED indicator, a flash button, a mute button with LED, a redial button, volume controls, pulse and tone dialing, and a three-position ringer-level switch. An optional extension microphone, the CONF410MIC, is available to add greater pickup to a larger conference area. This will pick up conversation from 6ft. or less. A standard handset may be connected to the unit for private conversations, and the conference can be transferred to the handset at any time. Included with the telephone unit are an AC adapter, a phone cord with RJ-11 connectors, and a user guide. The CONF410PAK can be purchased for less than $150.
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