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Bluetooth speakerphone latest tech gadget for Nashua firm

Union Leader Correspondent

February 02. 2013 10:31PM
The Jabra Speak 510+, a Bluetooth-enabled speakerphone, is set to release in March for $179.99. (SIMN ROS/Union Leader Correspondent)

NASHUA - A company with headquarters in the Gate City has released a Bluetooth speakerphone, the second version in a line of devices offering high-quality audio for professionals on the go.

"When we began to look into unified communication, which is basically using the PC to communicate, in addition to headsets, we felt that people will want to have a speakerphone type of capability that was to a certain extent personal," said Chris Schultz, director of marketing at Jabra.

At just over 5 inches, the Speak 510 is elegantly designed and setup takes under five minutes. The disk-shaped device features eight buttons on top, including volume levels and mute.

Schultz said the company looked at the Bluetooth-enabled desktop device offered by competitor Polycom, and wanted to offer a cheaper option than Polycom's Voicestation 500, which sells for $357 on Amazon.

A self-proclaimed leader in hands-free solutions, Jabra released the Speak 410 in 2011 at half the cost of its more sophisticated rival. With that the company secured 30 percent of the global USB speakerphone market.

"It took the whole industry a little bit by surprise," Schultz said, "and the personal speakerphone market started from there."

According to the company, the Jabra Speak 510 series is designed for professionals with an everyday need for high-quality audio conferencing or hands-free calls.

Available already is the Speak 510, which comes in high- and low-end models. At $150, the Speak 510 is a corded speakerphone for softphones (PC-based phone applications) or smartphones and tablets via Bluetooth.

The Speak 510+, which will sell for $180 when it is released in March, allows cordless usage with a USB dongle within a 30-foot range.

Users can pair Bluetooth headsets with both models, which have headphone jacks and rechargeable batteries powered by USB.

The Speak pairs seamlessly with a smartphone and a laptop. Speak 510 plugs into the computer via USB and pairs with the phone through Bluetooth. When the cellphone receives a call, the Speak rings, and the call can be answered using the answer button.

Schultz said what distinguishes the Speak 510 is that competing products are less portable and require adaptors.

The Speak also used wideband sound, a fuller frequency spectrum than that used in cellphones. "When you have several people on a conference call, sometimes you can't distinguish one male from another male, for instance, because the voices are compressed in a frequency range," he said.

With wideband, Schultz said, it is possible to distinguish the speakers during a call.

Pete Fox, president of Jabra North America, said the device makes it easier than ever to turn any workspace into a conference room. "The mobile work force is growing at a rapid rate, and its workers demand technology that enables them to become more efficient at collaborating and communicating."

The publicly traded Danish company employs some 850 people around the world, 100 of which work out of the company's U.S. and Canada department in Nashua. Five hundred employees work in Denmark, in addition to staff in the world's major markets, including Brazil, Russia, China, India and European countries.

The products are manufactured in China, though a small manufacturing center exists in the U.S. for government contracts.

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