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Technology Untangled: New conference phone offers unique features

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I purchased a new piece of office technology recently: a high-quality conference phone with impressive features.

The phone I chose was from a manufacturer I had not heard of before. The Konftel 300W is designed by a Swedish company (www.konftel.com). Most of the conference phones (a.k.a. speakerphones) I have worked with are of the Polycom brand. Konftel popped up as another alternative while I was researching conference phones on the Internet. Two features caught my eye right away – the wireless capability and the ability to record phone calls.

The wireless connection between the base transmitter and the phone uses DECT (digital enhanced cordless telecommunications) technology, one of the newest cordless phone standards. It provides a very good range, a stable noise-free connection that works well through walls and floors, and is relatively secure. The specs list the range at a substantial 650 feet.

The transmitter/receiver is a flat, square, black box that can be plugged into an analog jack in a remote corner of the office. The conference phone can then be moved room-to-room without worrying about finding an appropriate analog phone jack, and without stringing a long cord across the room. In an office with a full digital phone system, sometimes the only analog phone jack you can find will be near a fax machine.

The conference phone itself is a typical triangular shape that nests in a charging cradle. Once the phone is fully charged, it offers up to 60 hours of talk time with the included lithium-ion battery. Standby time is 10 days. The phone also notifies you when there is less than one hour of talk time left, so you won’t be cut off in the middle of an important call. Long battery life like this means you can keep the charging cradle in an out-of-the-way location and just charge the phone every weekend, leaving one less cord to clutter your conference table. With no power cord and no phone cord, this unit makes it easy for you to hold conference calls whenever and wherever it’s convenient.

The audio performance is exceptional. The manufacturer touts it as “OmniSound 2.0 – a sound sensation.” All I know is that the phone sounds great on both ends of the conversation, no matter what you want to call the technology that makes it possible. Additionally, there is an equalizer adjustment to tailor the sound for your personal preference or office environment.

The Konftel 300W offers advanced connectivity that takes it beyond the features of the typical conference phone. When connected to a personal computer via USB, the phone acts as the speaker and the microphone for making VoIP calls through Skype, an Internet communication service that I like and have written about previously. The quality of the Konftel microphone and speakers are superior to those found in the typical laptop, making this phone an ideal companion for enhancing Skype video calls. You can also connect the Konftel to many (but not all) cell phones and facilitate a conference with greatly enhanced clarity compared to the marginal speakerphone function offered with most cell phones. The cell phone adapter cable is a special order item not offered in the standard package.

The ability to digitally record phone calls and conferences is another nice feature of this phone. Using a standard SD memory card, you can record all parties in the conversation to a .wav file, a standard computer audio format. You also have the option to turn on or off the recording indicator beep tone. The audio can later be played back from the phone itself, or can be transferred to computer for archiving as well as playback. This unit also can function as a standard digital audio recorder when you’re not making a call, which is useful for dictation or recording face-to-face meetings.

One curiosity I found for a phone with this level of sophistication was that the maximum compatible SD card size is only 2GB. That is probably enough, providing perhaps 20 hours of recording time, but memory cards come in much bigger sizes these days. I expect a future software upgrade will address this. The phone does include an upgrade utility for loading the latest software version from the Konftel website by connecting the phone to your computer via USB. That nice extra feature should help keep this phone from becoming obsolete too quickly.

Many websites sell this phone for around $700, but if you shop around you should be able to find it for about $500.•

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Stephen Bour (bourtech@iquest.net) is an engineer and legal technology consultant in Indianapolis. His company, the Alliance for Litigation Support Inc., includes Bour Technical Services and Alliance Court Reporting. Areas of service include legal videography, tape analysis, document scanning to CD, and courtroom presentation support. The opinions expressed in this column are those of the author.

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  1. So that none are misinformed by my posting wihtout a non de plume here, please allow me to state that I am NOT an Indiana licensed attorney, although I am an Indiana resident approved to practice law and represent clients in Indiana's fed court of Nth Dist and before the 7th circuit. I remain licensed in KS, since 1996, no discipline. This must be clarified since the IN court records will reveal that I did sit for and pass the Indiana bar last February. Yet be not confused by the fact that I was so allowed to be tested .... I am not, to be clear in the service of my duty to be absolutely candid about this, I AM NOT a member of the Indiana bar, and might never be so licensed given my unrepented from errors of thought documented in this opinion, at fn2, which likely supports Mr Smith's initial post in this thread: http://caselaw.findlaw.com/us-7th-circuit/1592921.html

  2. When I served the State of Kansas as Deputy AG over Consumer Protection & Antitrust for four years, supervising 20 special agents and assistant attorneys general (back before the IBLE denied me the right to practice law in Indiana for not having the right stuff and pretty much crushed my legal career) we had a saying around the office: Resist the lure of the ring!!! It was a take off on Tolkiem, the idea that absolute power (I signed investigative subpoenas as a judge would in many other contexts, no need to show probable cause)could corrupt absolutely. We feared that we would overreach constitutional limits if not reminded, over and over, to be mindful to not do so. Our approach in so challenging one another was Madisonian, as the following quotes from the Father of our Constitution reveal: The essence of Government is power; and power, lodged as it must be in human hands, will ever be liable to abuse. We are right to take alarm at the first experiment upon our liberties. I believe there are more instances of the abridgement of freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments by those in power than by violent and sudden usurpations. Liberty may be endangered by the abuse of liberty, but also by the abuse of power. All men having power ought to be mistrusted. -- James Madison, Federalist Papers and other sources: http://www.constitution.org/jm/jm_quotes.htm RESIST THE LURE OF THE RING ALL YE WITH POLITICAL OR JUDICIAL POWER!

  3. My dear Mr Smith, I respect your opinions and much enjoy your posts here. We do differ on our view of the benefits and viability of the American Experiment in Ordered Liberty. While I do agree that it could be better, and that your points in criticism are well taken, Utopia does indeed mean nowhere. I think Madison, Jefferson, Adams and company got it about as good as it gets in a fallen post-Enlightenment social order. That said, a constitution only protects the citizens if it is followed. We currently have a bevy of public officials and judicial agents who believe that their subjectivism, their personal ideology, their elitist fears and concerns and cause celebs trump the constitutions of our forefathers. This is most troubling. More to follow in the next post on that subject.

  4. Yep I am not Bryan Brown. Bryan you appear to be a bigger believer in the Constitution than I am. Were I still a big believer then I might be using my real name like you. Personally, I am no longer a fan of secularism. I favor the confessional state. In religious mattes, it seems to me that social diversity is chaos and conflict, while uniformity is order and peace.... secularism has been imposed by America on other nations now by force and that has not exactly worked out very well.... I think the American historical experiment with disestablishmentarianism is withering on the vine before our eyes..... Since I do not know if that is OK for an officially licensed lawyer to say, I keep the nom de plume.

  5. I am compelled to announce that I am not posting under any Smith monikers here. That said, the post below does have a certain ring to it that sounds familiar to me: http://www.catholicnewworld.com/cnwonline/2014/0907/cardinal.aspx

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