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The Phoenix Quattro3 Adds Business Class Audio To Your Mobile Videoconferencing Solution

February 7, 2013 | David S. Maldow, Esq.

The BYOD movement is in full swing. At the business and consumer level, people are expecting to use their own phones and tablets in more and more situations. While ubiquitous videoconferencing is still the ultimate goal of the VC industry, the vision is somewhat shifting. We originally thought the future would be a world with a VC system in every room, but now we realize that, in addition, it may be a world with inherent VC power on every phone, tablet, desktop, television, videogame system, robot, watch, etc. etc.

This is good news, but we must address the fact that mobile devices generally provide relatively low quality audio and acoustical pick up. This is a particular concern, because as any VC analyst will tell you, the most crucial aspect of any video call is the audio. Even if the video fails completely, you can salvage the meeting if the audio works. But if the audio is bad, the meeting is going to be impacted. With this in mind, if you are going to be regularly conducting videocalls on a commercial device, you may want to upgrade the audio to business class. One easy way to do this is with the Phoenix Quattro3. We have some familiarity with Phoenix speakers, they are notable for excellent echo cancellation and superb audio quality, and we were naturally interested in checking out the Quattro3. Phoenix let us take one of their demo units through its paces, and we were very pleased with the experience.

Make no mistake, mobile videoconferencing is real. People try it once for the novelty and in most cases "get it" instantly. Not only that, first time users almost always seem surprised by the quality. It is as if people expect mobile videoconferencing to still be a pixelated, laggy, inaudible mess, when in fact it has become a reliable, high quailty experience. It obviously isn't an immersive telepresence experience; but it is a good experience, a massive upgrade from a phone call, and will continue to gain in popularity. At this point the best course of action is to embrace this movement, and empower your workers to make full use of these tools. Part of that is providing them with the peripherals needed to get a business class experience out of their consumer devices.

Today's tablets and smart phones obviously have integrated microphones and speakers, and we are all very familiar with the quality of these devices in speakerphone mode. It is fine for short conversations, but after a few minutes we all say, "Can you take me off speaker?" which is generally followed by, "Oh, that is much better." The quality isn't "bad" but it can require more mental energy to stay focused on the conversation. A business quality speakerphone doesn't strain the ears in this way. The value of business quality audio hasn't been lost on Vidyo, who, as part of a recently announced partnership, recommends Phoenix solutions to their users.

After using the Phoenix Quattro3 for a few weeks, I found that the device reliably and significantly improved the quality of my calls. I could stay focused for longer, with less strain. In fact, it sounded so good, that I started using it to listen to music and podcasts in between meetings. Audiophiles can check out the specs here. I also tested the system's microphone, by having a co-tester call me from the tablet. The difference was night and day. To get honest opinions from my friends and partners, I would connect the Phoenix during the course of a call, without mentioning it. The unknowing test subjects on the other end of the line all immediately noticed the difference and without my prompting would comment on how much better they could hear and understand me.

As far as ease of use, there really isn't much to say. One plug for power, and one cord that fits into the headphone jack of the iPad. It was completely plug and play, I did no configuration whatsoever. The Quattro3 volume and mute buttons are well lit and clearly indicate their function.

The real power behind the Quattro3, in my opinion, is its potential to turn any meeting room into a VC room, without the need for VC equipment. At least one person in almost any meeting will have a tablet, laptop, or phone with them. Regardless of the device and app in use, the Phoenix instantly upgrades the meeting to business quality audio. With models ranging between $500 - $600, the price may make some think twice, but keep in mind that one unit can effectively be shared by dozens of people with dozens of devices. You don't need a Quattro3 for each employee, you only need one for any space that you wish to turn into a remote collaboration working area. An organization with a few strategically placed Quattro3s could easily encourage a greater collaborative environment among its mobile empowered workforce.

About the Author
David_Maldow, Esq.David Maldow, Esq. is a visual collaboration technologist and analyst with the Human Productivity Lab and an associate editor at Telepresence Options. David has extensive expertise in testing, evaluating, and explaining telepresence and other visual collaboration / rich media solutions. David is focused on providing third-party independent analysis and opinion of these technologies and helping end users better secure their telepresence, videoconferencing, and visual collaboration environments. You can follow David on Twitter and Google+.

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