Wednesday, May 27, 2020
May 27, 2020

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Jabra Speak offers hands-free calls

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Some people have been working from home for years, but now a lot more of us are suddenly being told to start working from home.

Conference calls have already replaced face-to-face meetings for a lot of work teams, especially those with workforces spread across town or across the country.

For the last month or so, I’ve been testing the Jabra Speak 710 speakerphone, which lets you speak clearly to others without getting a cramp in your arm or using your cellphone’s speakerphone option.

The Jabra Speak 710 ($314) is the latest model in a line of successful speakerphones from Jabra.

I’ve been using them at work for years, starting with the Speak 410, then the Speak 510. I can tell you they are very easy to set up and use.

Jabra calls the 710 a speakerphone, but there is no phone inside. It’s a microphone and speaker you connect to your cellphone or computer.

These Jabra speakers have saved my bacon at work more than a few times.

We do a lot of videoconferencing at the university where I work, and sometimes we have to quickly set up small conference rooms to be able to join a conference in another building.

I can put the Jabra Speak 710 in the middle of a conference table and have a call up and sounding great in just a minute or two.

How it’s done

The Jabra Speak 710 is a small, round speaker about 5 inches wide and about 1.5 inches tall. It looks like a spaceship.

Inside, you’ll find a 360-degree microphone and a nice speaker with a voice clarity feature called HD Voice that sounds great.

The control buttons are situated around the outer edge.

The controls are easy to see and touch — you can adjust the volume, pick up and hang up calls, turn on Bluetooth and use a smart button to call up Siri or OK Google.

There are two ways to connect to the 710.

You can connect wirelessly to your phone or computer via Bluetooth. It can be paired with up to eight devices at once.

The 710 includes a USB dongle you can use to connect if your computer does not have Bluetooth. Inside you’ll find a rechargeable battery that lasts for up to 15 hours of talk time.

If you’d like a more permanent installation or don’t want to rely on a wireless connection, the 710 has a built-in USB cable to connect to your computer.

USB provides power as well as the data connection, and the USB cable wraps around the speaker. The plug tucks out of the way. It’s a very nice design.

If you plug it into a Windows 10 PC or a Mac, it will configure itself to be available as your computer’s microphone or speaker.

I’ve kept the 710 on my desk at work as my PC’s speaker and I use it for audio and video conferences.

Compatibility

The Jabra 710 is compatible with a number of online conference services, including Skype for Business, GoToMeeting, Cisco Webex, Google Hangouts, Avaya and a few more.

A lot of companies have switched to voice-over IP for their work phones. The phone system runs through the internet, and users launch an app on their computers to route their office phone calls through the microphone and speaker connected to their PCs. The handsets or headsets used are called a “soft phone.”

The Speak 710 is a great soft phone.

I love that the 710 can connect to both my cellphone and on my computer at the same time.

The Jabra Speak 710 is the first model I’ve felt could be a good replacement for my computer’s speaker. I don’t listen to a ton of music through my computer, but the 710 sounds better than my computer’s speakers.

I also believe it sounds good enough to stream music from my phone or computer to listen in an office or on the patio.

A single 710 is perfect for up to six people to use sitting around a table. I think three or four feet is about as far as I’d want to be from the speaker when I use it.

What if you have a larger room with a longer table? You can get a second 710 and create a stereo pair and set one on each end of the table. I only had one review unit, so I didn’t get to test pairing.

I’ve been pleased with the 710 in use for the last month. I’ve been using it wirelessly with my iPhone at home and via USB cable with my desktop Windows 10 PC.

All the calls sound great — far better than the speakerphone setting on my iPhone XS Max.

I think the Speak 710 is essential for small offices and work-from-home employees. I realize some might prefer a headset to a speakerphone, but I prefer a nice speaker that doubles as a great speakerphone.

Pros: Great sound, wired or wireless connection, simple setup.

Cons: A bit expensive.

Bottom line: The Speak 710 is the best portable speakerphone I’ve found.

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