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Performance

As a Class 1 Bluetooth-compliant device, the operating range for the phone can be up to 100 meters. As with all wireless devices, your actual range varies depending on obstructions and RF interference. Though it's impossible to subject the ClearSky Conference Phone to the rigorous throughput tests that we normally perform on Wi-Fi products, I performed some simpler tests.

For my tests, the Bluetooth Skype-enabled notebook remained in my office on the second floor. I then moved the phone to every room of my condo and was able to make and receive Skype calls. The Bluetooth connection even had no problems reaching any location on the first floor.

Of course, the real test of a device such as this is, “how does it sound?” No simple answer exists, because how something sounds is relatively subjective. Add some variation on the quality of the Skype call itself, such as Internet routing and delay issues, and a quantitative answer is even more difficult to come up with.

So I did the next best thing—I called a number of my regular Skype contacts. Since they are used to hearing me on a Plantronics headset, I felt they could judge the relative sound quality of the ClearSky Conference Phone. I experienced several calls in which my own voice seemed to be breaking up in the speaker of the conference phone. After I disconnected and immediately reconnected those calls, the issue seemed to be resolved. It's difficult to know, however, whether the problems were related to the Bluetooth connection or the Skype connection itself.

Overall, most of my contacts noted that the voice quality was good, though most noted that the overall level of my voice was lower than when I use a headset, an assessment I don't find surprising. Speakerphones almost always yield a lower volume that headsets or handsets. Several people also noted that the frequency response sounded more "rolled off" at both the high frequencies and the low frequencies when compared to my traditional headset.

As a final test, I made numerous calls to a voice mailbox that records and emails a .WAV file. If "hearing is believing," then click here to download a zipped WAV file of a representative sample of the sound quality. After listening to this sample, I think you'll agree that the overall frequency response on the conference phone sounds more like communications quality rather than high fidelity.

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