Posts Tagged ‘review’

Review: Jabra Speak 410 – a Great Lync Companion!

August 17th, 2012 5 comments

I’m always looking for gadgets. Especially UC related gadgets. Enter the Jabra Speak 410. This little gem is a great speakerphone for VoIP solutions like Lync and Skype. It has phenomenal clarity, is simple to use, and won’t break the bank. This small round unit uses USB, and installs automatically. LED indicators circle the unit, and show volume level and mute. Up/Down volume control, Mute, and On/Off hook buttons are all that are needed. Plus, it has a standard 1/8″ headphone jack so you can listen to calls in privacy. The attached USB cord wraps around the base, and the unit fits into a supplied zippered pouch and into your laptop bag. It’s relative small size and lightweight make it a perfect traveling unit.

Jabra 410 Speak - top

Jabra 410 Speak – top

I can say, you’d be hard pressed to find fault with this unit. Its omni-directional microphone easily picks up clear audio from those in a room, whether one person or 5, and delivers great clear sound when listening to people on the other end. The built-in Digital Signal Processing (DSP) gets rid of the hiss, echoes, and other garbage that lesser units don’t. If you need a speakerphone for a small room, the Jabra 410 Speak is for you.

And it works for other things, too.

I rely on Microsoft OneNote a lot for note taking. But one problem when attending conferences and training is too much time taking notes of what people are saying, and not enough time to actually enjoy things. So I started using a small microphone plugged into my laptop to record audio as well. OneNote does great audio recording and can synchronize the audio with what you’re typing at the time. The problem is that you’re locked to whatever quality microphone you have. While reading about Jonathan McKinney’s journey through the Lync MCM rotation, I noticed he used a 410 Speak to record audio into OneNote. Sure enough, after trying it during some recent sessions, I can say, this little unit is perfect for this purpose. You get clear audio from your session speaker, and it picks up those in the room who are asking questions.

The unit also has pretty darn good audio for listening to music. While not stereo, it does a good job of playing your beats and the simple touch sensitive volume and mute buttons come in handy when the boss shows up at your cube.

The unit is available from your favorite dealers for just under $100.

Review: TechHit TwInbox – Full Twitter Integration in Outlook

October 28th, 2011 No comments

With social networking being so popular these days, it can be difficult to keep track of all of the various messaging streams having different clients installed, etc. So I was real happy when I stumbled across an add-in for Outlook that brings full Twitter capabilities right to my Inbox. And, it’s free. FREE!

TechHit’s TwInbox product does just that. It adds a set of options to the Outlook ribbon that allow you to tweet, retweet, DM, and more.

Outlook toolbar with TwInbox options (click for larger version)

Outlook toolbar with TwInbox options (click for larger version)

It will retrieve new tweets every few minutes, and deposit them into a folder of your choice. Tweets show up as a post in Outlook, as shown below:

Sample tweet as seen in Outlook (click for larger version)

Sample tweet as seen in Outlook (click for larger version)

Hotkeys can be assigned to make the various options even more convenient. For example, CTRL+ALT+P brings up my New Tweet dialog:

New tweet dialog box (click for larger version)

New tweet dialog box (click for larger version)

TwInbox has full support for attaching photos, URL shortening, and more. It even builds a list of all Twitter names and hashtags in tweets you receive as sort of a Twitter address book.

This is a great app. I’ve been using it since the beginning, and have had very few issues with it. It makes sending tweets much more convenient, and gives me a full view into what’s going when I use the Unread Mail view in Outlook (my default view). I can forward tweets via email, and added benefit.

My only issue with the app is that if you install it on multiple machines, and have each configured to automatically download tweets, you can end up with duplicates in your mailbox. This is a minor issue for me. I leave one machine running with Outlook open anyways, so that’s the one that gets my tweets. And I just point them to a folder with a retention policy assigned. So tweets only stay in my mailbox for 7 days before being deleted.

Check out TwInbox and I’m sure you’ll agree it’s a great app.

Categories: Exchange Server Tags: , ,

Review: Microsoft Touch Mouse

October 12th, 2011 No comments
Microsoft Touch Mouse

Microsoft Touch Mouse

My favorite mouse is the Microsoft Presenter 8000 mouse. It’s comfortable, gets great battery life, and has the presentation buttons and laser pointer built into the bottom. Unfortunately, after many many trips through airports, my mouse finally died.

I decided to see what else was available. I’d tried the Microsoft Arc mouse, but didn’t find it that comfortable, and the “back” button on the side wasn’t in an ideal location, and was quite stiff. A colleague had reported that the newer Arc Touch mouse was kinda cool, but he didn’t like it after trying it.

Microsoft recently released the Touch Mouse. This is a uber cool mouse that has no real buttons on the top or sides. It uses finger gestures and the entire top is a giant button. The unit supports one, two, and three finger gestures in a variety of directions, as well as thumb gestures in two directions. The unit includes a micro dongle that stores in the bottom of the unit. It is powered by two AA batteries, and has an on/off switch on its belly.

Setup was a breeze. The mouse is designed specifically for Windows 7. I inserted the dongle, and within seconds, a tutorial popped onto the screen demonstrating the various features and gestures. It walks you through each gesture, shows you what it controls, and then has you do the same thing to get the hang of it. I found the tutorial to be the perfect combination of information and length. There are certainly a lot of gestures you can use. Single finger gestures include the normal scrolling up, down, and sideways. Two finger gestures include docking apps to the left and right side of the screen, restoring and maximizing apps, etc. Three finger gestures include minimizing and maximizing all apps. And the thumb gestures work great for forward/back movements, such as those in your Internet browser. Button clicking is based on which finger is touching the unit when you press the forward part of the unit down.

This is a nice mouse. It works great, although it did take some getting used to when I needed to right-click on things. I’m not sure how often I’ll use some of the gestures, but it’s nice to see the availability of them. Scrolling up and down really gets going if you swipe quickly, and lift your finger off the unit – something else I had to get used to since I typically used a wheel that would only turn so far when I’d let go of it.

The $50 mouse was a great addition to my travel tech gear. It would have been nice if it came in a plastic shell, like the Presenter Mouse does. I just use the cloth pouch from the Arc mouse and it works great. I’d recommend the mouse if you’re looking for something slick. I think I’ll get another one for my desktop at home.

Categories: Personal Tags:

Review: Toshiba 14 Inch USB Monitor – Perfect for Travelling

October 11th, 2011 No comments
Toshiba 14" USB monitor

Toshiba 14″ USB monitor

These days, I spend more time at client sites than I do in my home office. My home office has four monitors for my desktop. When at a client site, I’ve been stuck with just a single screen for my laptop. This can be tough getting used to, and be quite limiting.

Toshiba came out with the perfect solution. Their $200 14″ USB monitor that folds completely flat, and takes up less room than my laptop in my backpack.

The monitor comes with a dual plug USB cable to ensure that it gets enough power to operate. From my Dell Precision M4500, I find that it gets enough from just one port. I keep the original cable in my backpack, and use just the Griffin mini USB to the monitor. This is essentially a 2″ cable that works perfectly. Toshiba does sell an optional power supply, but I’ve yet to find a need for it.

The screen gives me 1366 x 768 resolution, and provides perfect screen real estate to keep my Outlook and other apps open while I use the laptop’s main screen for my current focus, such as documents, etc.

Setup of the monitor each day is trivial. Open the unit like a book, close the flap, and stand it up. Connect the USB cable, and you’re done. Initial setup merely required the CD-ROM for the drivers, and took only seconds. From unboxing to operational took me less than five minutes. Front panel controls include power and brightness controls. There is a little velcro flap in the middle of the case to store the cable.

I absolutely love this monitor. It provides extra working room for me to be more efficient. It takes up very little space and adds very little weight (3.7 pounds) to my overall carry load. Setup is a breeze, and the unit just works.

The only thing I could complain about is that the bezel along the bottom, which includes the control buttons, is a bit large. It would be nice if it were smaller, and provided more screen space instead. But that’s trivial.

I would recommend this unit to anyone who would like to have more working room, but need to travel with it. It’s available from Amazon.

Categories: Personal Tags: