First Looks: Jabra Speak 410 Speakerphone
Crystal Clear Communication
Consumers should already be familiar with Jabra’s line-up of headsets and accessories for smartphones and other mobile devices. At the enterprise level, the company also has Unified Communications-certified products such as the Jabra Speak 410 speakerphone. In short, it's a speakerphone that can be used with your computer or laptop during a UC conference.
Design and Features
With a disc-like design, the Jabra Speak 410 looks like it would be perfectly at home on a conference table. Attention is drawn directly to the metal grill of the speakers when you first look at the device. Touch buttons situated on the top surface ring allow you to take calls, control volume and access the mute function.
The Jabra Speak 410 is also equipped with a host of features to help it perform its function proficiently. It is compatible with a number of Unified Communications platforms from Avaya, Cisco and Alcatel-Lucent, and touts plug and play functionality. Free drivers can also be downloaded from www.jabra.com/PCsuite. Naturally, the Speak 410 supports VoIP clients such as Skype.
With regards to connectivity, the Speak 410 plugs into your computer via USB. The USB wire can be handily wrapped around the base which helps with portability and storage. It also has a 3.5mm port if you want to plug in your headphones for private calls (any Jabra QD headset should works fine). However, the Speak 410 does not support Bluetooth. That being said, the omni-directional microphone is great when you need to share the device with multiple participants in a conference call. Because of its 360-degree coverage, participants are not restricted by where they sit.
Usage and Performance
Overall, the Jabra Speak 410 scores highly in terms of ease of use. The touch-based call and volume controls are responsive and logically placed. It also has a integrated ringer. LEDs are used to provide visual cues to current device status. One minor gripe we have is that the USB cable is slightly shorter than desired. Although that was hardly a major inconvenience, we would have liked it to be just a bit longer.
From the specifications and features, it is easy to guess what aspects of audio the speakers would focus on. While putting it through its paces we found that clarity of sound was the Jabra Speak 410’s defining characteristic. This is not only beneficial when using the speakers for voice calls, but also when viewing movies. Dialog for our movie test track, Swordfish, took center stage, which contributed to the enjoyment of the movie. In short, there's some clever digital signal processing here.
Also impressive was the volume of the sound generated which quite belies the small stature and build of the device. Obviously there are certain limitations imposed on the product due to its design which cannot be overcome. Scenes with heavy sounds effects and distortion laden guitars, such as those found on Buckethead’s Sail on Soothsayer, were points in our testing where the speakers faltered. Significant audio detail was lost for both. All that said, we were really pushing the Speak 410's audio department.
When evaluating the Jabra Speak 410 it is important to remember what the manufacturer intends the device to be used for. If you want it for playing music and movies, it will perform but not delight. But if you need a hassle-free and high quality speakerphone for a UC conference, the gadget excels.
Ease of installation and use, great portability and compatibility with a variety of Unified Communications platforms make the Jabra Speak 410 a logical solution for your audio conference needs. Jabra also has another variant of the Speak 410 optimized for Microsoft Lync (or Microsoft Office Communicator), so do check it out if your company is using this platform. At its retail price of $218, the 410 Speak isn't exactly cheap. But if you are looking for a dedicated speakerphone for audio conferencing in the office (be it for one-on-one or small-group conference calls), it does get the job done nicely.