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SoundGadget: a Skype-certified speakerphone for road warriors

For the last couple of weeks I’ve been playing with the Yamaha SoundGadget PSG-01S – a Skype-certified speakerphone provided to me for evaluation. This pint-sized device provides business travellers with a high quality portable alternative to the conference phones that can be found in boardrooms everywhere.

The SoundGadget packs an array of four microphones and two speakers into a tiny rectangular pillar standing less than 5 inches tall.  The speakers support frequencies from 300 Hz to 20 KHz, making them an excellent alternative to the cheap units in most laptops, especially for casual music, video and podcast audio.  The microphones are arranged in a 360 degree array at the top of the unit, with internal echo cancellation and noise reduction firmware.  It’s intended to be used at a table for meetings, but it also worked incredibly well for me as I walked around my office.  The extra microphones apparently made a huge difference.

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Windows 7 recognizes the SoundGadget as a simple USB microphone and speaker combo.  To the operating system, it’s little more than a USB headset.  However, with the addition of the convenient utility packaged with the SoundGadget, the row of buttons on the side of the device are now activated.  You can now answer and hang up calls with the touch of a button rather than searching the desktop for Skype.  That’s a nice usability improvement, albeit not completely necessary.

If this were just a speakerphone it would be a handy gadget.  However, recognizing that road warriors prefer to be economical about weight and baggage (see Jim Courtney’s comments about his recent experiences flying to Europe with the SoundGadget), Yamaha has added a couple of extra features to expand the SoundGadget’s appeal.

  • When turned on its side, the SoundGadget converts from a mono speakerphone into a tiny set of stereo speakers.  In my use, it was a nice improvement over the speakers in my HP laptop.
  • Coupled with the software utility included, the SoundGadget can also function as a high quality microphone for recording podcasts or even music. 

Until December 31, 2009 the SoundGadget is available at $199.90 at any Skype Store.  In fact, the price is my only reservation about this device. To ameliorate that, it’s being offered with a full money back guarantee during this promotional period.  If you don’t like it, just ship it back at their expense before January 31, 2010 for a full refund.

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