Laser VoIP Station
- Doubles as a USB Hub, Functions with Skype and other programs, Dual Headphone/Microphone Connections with audio switching
- Ugly, No Mac OS X Support, Poor Quality Headset
A convenient device which has multiple uses, Laser seems to have struck a winner with the VoIP Station.
Price$ 79.95 (AUD)
VoIP products continue to hit the market at a rapid rate. Laser has joined the party with an interesting device that includes the functionality of a standard 6-port USB hub while offering two sets of switchable headphone and microphone connections and a keypad for making VoIP calls. It is definitely a unique product and we feel Laser is onto a winner.
The design of the VoIP Station is relatively simple and the well spaced out layout of the buttons means you shouldn't be confused using the unit. There are four USB ports on the back of the box and two on the top and this essentially means the VoIP Station can be used as a USB hub. This is a very handy feature and one that caught us by surprise.
The buttons have a soft yet sturdy rubber feel and they don't require much of a press to activate. Everything is fairly straightforward; Volume, Mute, Scroll and Answer/End buttons are the extent of the controls and an Audio switch allows selection between the two speaker and microphone jacks, each located on the sides of the VoIP Station. You can mute either the speakerphone, microphone or both as there are two mute buttons; one for each function.
The VoIP Station connects to your PC via a standard USB connection. You'll need to install the VoIP Dialpad software, which is included in the sales package. This provides the drivers and functionality which allows the VoIP Station to work with Skype. The hardware itself will work with a number of VoIP applications including Yahoo Messanger and ICQ, but its software will only function with Skype. Installation is relatively hassle free and we experienced no problems, but Macintosh users are again not invited to the party, even though Skype is compatible with Mac OS X.
Laser has included a microphone and headset combination with the VoIP Station. You'll look like you are working in a call centre while wearing it, but it is quite comfortable on the whole. Unfortunately, sound quality is a problem and the included headset just wasn't up to scratch. Our friends and colleagues complained of a very poor microphone; they could barely hear us. When we switched to a different headset and microphone combination, the complaints ceased.
We used the VoIP Station with Skype and the functionality was impressive. The scroll buttons browse through your contact list, while the menu button brings Skype to the front of all your open Windows and can then be used to cycle through your Contacts, Dial and HIstory tabs. The VoIP Station means you never really have to use your mouse; its buttons and functions ensure you can make and receive phone calls using just the unit and a headset/microphone combination.
In terms of design, the VoIP Station is not a very attractive device. In the day and age of bright blue lights, chrome edges and multiple colour schemes, Lasers choice of a dark grey finish is hardly awe inspiring. Although the bright red backlit keypad may sound like a nice touch, believe us, it isn't. All in all you'll be doing your best to hide the VoIP Station away from prying eyes should it happen to make its way onto your desk.
Overall though the VoIP Station is a very handy product. It's not groundbreaking by any means and we'd really like to see some wireless functionality implemented, but if you are a regular Skype user, then you really should have a look into this. The added benefit of USB hub functionality only adds to its value. At this price, it is a bargain.
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