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Location: Oaksterdam, California

Tuesday, September 28, 2004

Techie Tuedsay: Polycom SoundStation2W

Wireless conference phone 

Years ago, when I ran the media and conferencing systems for an Investment Bank specializing in high tech IPO's (now-defunct), there was a request for a wireless conference phone for the Chairman’s conference room. He didn’t like the cables draping across the table. The request never passed muster due to IT security concerns and the specter of corporate espionage. At least that’s what we told him.

That’s why I glad to see the latest SoundStation innovation from Polycom.
Now there’s a conference phone without cords that gives you the freedom to conference anywhere team collaboration is important – even in rooms where there are no phone lines. With superior voice quality to the award winning SoundStation, proven 2.4 GHz wireless technology, added security of voice encryption, up to 24 hours of talk time, and the ability to dial through a cell phone, the SoundStation2W is the new standard for everyday conferencing.

I am somewhat dubious about connecting this to a cel phone because nothing ruins a conference call faster than an un-muted cel phone. But, hey, if you want to make a conference call from a teepee during a corporate team-building retreat, then this baby's for you...

At my last job, during lunch-time conference calls, the phones would be hid in cabinets to make way for the food. Soon after the poor AV guys would get frantic calls for missing equipment. Needless to say those conference calls were disasters which resulted in accusatory emails to the facilites department, et al, to CYA the meeting organizers (which means their assistants - since shit always rolls downhill).

With an entry price of $699.99 (OK $700,)it seems pricey at first, however it can be effectively justified to management. If they want the perfect solution, call for a meeting of all the interested parties, especially if you need to engage architects for pulling a phone line to underneath a conference table, and maybe power,(and while you're at it, throw in some fibre for future expansion).

Start with discussing esthetics and sound treatment. Point out the cost of drilling for a grommet in their preciously designed conference table. Move to discussing conduit paths, the need to bring in the carpeting guys (most people forget the carpeting guys), and more importantly, ask if this needs to be done on the weekend at overtime rates. If you're clever hold this lunch meeting in the Chairman's conference room and involve their assistant to, at least, order lunch... because they order only the best eats!

The end result will probably be a delicious catered meal and, "Order 2 of these things with extra batteries, but we are not setting a stardard for the rest of the firm; by the way can't this be added to the infrastructure improvements budget...".

Since these are rechargeble devices, woe to the person found responsible for maintaining this phone if it dies in the middle of an important (aren't they always?) executive conference call...

[Disclosure: I do not work for Polycom but I fully endorse their products. I fell in love the first time I un-packed their video conferencing gear 7 years ago for an install and saw color coded cables and proper labeling. I think Mac users will understand. Polycom paid attention to detail that was sadly missing in that market. It made them revolutionary.)