As workforces become more distributed to satellite offices, home offices, client locations and even roaming within an organization, technology needs to be adaptable to any scenario. Mobile devices like laptops, smartphones and tablets have untethered our dependence on corded locations, meaning that the worker (or parent) on the go often is not always at the same location. And despite our increased interactions on email and social networking, voice and video conferencing is gaining in popularity, regardless of whether it is for business or family events. Jabra understands this, as is evident with their new Jabra Speak 510 corded and Bluetooth-enabled speakerphone.
As a busy working parent, there are times when you need to take time to make or receive calls related to work or schooling or just social in nature. More often than not, parents are multi-tasking, requiring their hands to be free to pack lunches, cook meals, put away clothes, do cleaning…need I continue? And that mobile worker, you know the one, traveling frequently, having conference calls from hotel rooms or acting as a guest in a conference room somewhere? How many times have they tried to hold a meeting, only to find out that the speakerphone isn’t working or there isn’t even a phone in the room? And if you are a truly technology-enabled person, you often have many devices with you (as I mentioned – laptops, smartphones and tablets). If you are Skyping or doing Google Hangouts regularly, or simply having calls that require your hands to be free or you want to spare neck pain from cradling (and dropping?) your smartphone, you need to have a solution that works, is compact and is multi-functional.
Review of the Jabra Speak 510
The Jabra Speak 510 handles all of these situations and does it well. It’s compact design yet power features enable you to connect a myriad of devices (even a couple at once) to allow you to have crystal-clear speaker conversations on the go.
I have been using a variety of Jabra products over the years and have been impressed with their adherence to not only sound quality, but also innovative design and features. The Speak 510 is no exception. And I think this is a product that any parent or worker can definitely appreciate. It’s lightweight and even comes with a soft case to enable you to simply throw it in a bag and have at the ready.
But why is a device like this important for parents and workers to have? Apart from the few use cases I mentioned above, it allows you to be productive and multi-task. The set-up process is easy and the usage even easier. Within the Speak 510 series are two versions: the Speak 510 which provides corded connectivity to your laptop or computer via a USB connection as well as a Bluetooth connection for smartphones, tablets and Bluetooth-enabled computers, and the Speak 510+ has all of the same capabilities of the 510, but with an added, extremely small, USB dongle which boosts the wireless range between computer and Speak 510+ to almost 300 feet. So, you can essentially start your audio conference call at your computer, pick up the Speak 510+ and then move around your home or workplace freely, all with clear audio quality.
I even tested the Speak 510 with my daughter to see how well it streams music. It does this pretty well but it is important to remember that the Speak 510 is more designed to be a speakerphone and not a multimedia HiFi extender. It doesn’t have the bass you would get in a speaker solution designed for music playing. But that being said, it is more than capable to provide better volume and remote placement when watching movies on your connected devices or streaming music.
Setting up the Speak 510 is easy. I was able to do it without reading any of the documentation. All of the controls are in a circle around the main speaker. To pair with a Bluetooth device, you simply press and hold the Bluetooth button and voice prompts walk you through the process of pairing. Once it is done, you are set.
The buttons themselves are soft-touch and are lit when powered on. You can answer/end calls via the Speak 510 and there are visual indicators as to how loud the volume is at or how charged the battery is. Speaking of the battery, it has up to a 15 hour talk time, which should be more than adequate for those extra long calling days (or just streaming music). Charging is also very easy. Simply connect the attached USB cable (which is carefully attached and stored in the base) to a computer, and your Speak 510 charges. If you connect the Speak 510 to you computer, you can also use it as a USB-connected speaker which gives you the best of both worlds – charging when not in use and speakerphone directly connected to your computer. And you can pair your smartphone to it via Bluetooth while it is directly connected to the USB connection. The only thing that I found that you cannot do is use the USB dongle and Bluetooth at the same time simple because the USB dongle is connecting via Bluetooth as well.
The USB dongle is really, really small (so don’t lose it)! If you have the luxury of many USB ports on your computer, you might want to simply keep it connected there. Once you plug it in (and it seems to work fine on both Macs and PCs), it automatically connects to the Speak 510+.
Some quick technical specs for those geeks out there:
- USB is plug-and-play
- Bluetooth class 1 device with 100 meter range
- Compatible with UC systems and VoIP clients (like Cisco, Avaya & Skype)
- 360-degree omni-directional microphone
- Digital Signal Processing (DSP) to eliminate distortion & echoes
- Wideband Audio/HD voice
- Bluetooth A2DP for multi-media streaming
- 3.5 mm headset port should you want to take the conversation privately
Calls and audio are pretty darn clear from my testing. The speaker can be dialed up to high volume as well to ensure that it can be heard in a large conference room or noisy house. And I simply love the circular, intuitive design.
Can you tell that I really like this Bluetooth-enabled speakerphone? Jabra seems to consistently produce solid voice and mobile solutions. I have their automobile-specific speakerphone in my car. There is a younger brother to the Speak 510 called the Speak 410 at a slightly lower price point. The Speak 410 removes the Bluetooth connectivity, which in my mind, is the main reason to get a portable speakerphone, so I would recommend paying a little bit extra to get the 510 or the 510+ and have Bluetooth. The Speak 510+ has an MSRP of $179.95, the Speak 510 costs $149.95 and the Speak 410 is slightly lower than that. You can currently pick up the Speak 510 on Amazon for $149 but as this is a new product, you can expect the price to drop in the coming weeks. The Speak 510+ was not currently available on Amazon as of this writing.
I feel that the price is quite reasonable given the quality of design and features. From a setup perspective, the process couldn’t be easier as it is very easy to integrate into just about any environment. It works just fine in a business, home office or family environment and I believe can truly help those multitasking workers (home and business) out there. Overall, the Speak 510 earns a solid “4” HighTechDad rating across the board.
Disclosure Text : I have a material connection because I received a gift or sample of a product for consideration in preparing to write this content. I was/am not expected to return this item or gift after my review period. All opinions within this article are my own. More information can be found in my About page as well as here.
HTD says: From the road warrior to the busy parent looking for some hands-free calling solutions, the Jabra Speak 510 truly speaks for itself – literally!