Communicator C100SI often rely on Skype to make cheap calls, in fact I use Skype exclusively in my office – it’s a tremendous money saver. But I absolutely hate the fact that when I am ready to make a call my headset seems to have walked away and hidden itself. I’ve also tried various Skype hand-sets but they all come with their own set of problems which I am not going to get into here.

So Polycom sends me their USB Communicator C100S speaker phone, but given my past not-so-great experiences with other Skype hardware, I fondled the C100S with a certain degree of skepticism. On one hand there is Polycom’s impeccable reputation for making terrific speaker phones. On the other hand there is the fact that C100S is just another Skype compatible USB device that promises the same technology used in Polycom’s legendary line of triangular SoundStation conference phones; crystal-clear, natural conversations, freedom of not wearing a headset for hands-free Skype calls, high-fidelity wideband voice quality, excellent range for small group conversations, Polycom Acoustic Clarity Technology which eliminates echoes and feedback, etc. Simple reality is that I, or any other small business, don’t care what technology is packed into the gadget as long as Skype conversations are uninterrupted by the party on the other end  asking me to reaped what I said because I sound like I’m sitting inside an echo chamber.

After using the C100S for a few weeks there is not doubt in my mind that Polycom C100S is the best hands-free Skype device there is. The unit itself is about the size of a tradition Cracker Jack box, with volume and mute controls in the middle and fairly large speaker closer to the top. There is another set of speakers at the bottom for voice pickup. A foldout stand on the back of C100S places the unit in a 40 degree. Included software let me control volume and mute and, according to Polycom, is required to fully take advantage of full audio performance and Skype integration. However, plugging the unit in the USB port and using Skype interface to make the calls works just fine, which is how I’m am using it now. And if you really need privacy then S100S comes with a headphones jack.

The price tag is a little bit high, around $100, but you get what you pay for. And in the case C100S you get a quality USB speaker phone from a company that has been doing speaker phones the right way for a long time.

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