First, a confession. This review is WAY overdue. I have been slammed at work recently, and that has carried well over into my evenings and weekends. The good thing about being busy with my company is that it usually involves travel. When trying to review a Bluetooth speakerphone, travel is exactly what you need.
I received the Speak 450 from Jabra to review in early August. Since that time, I have tested it in quiet environments, in loud noisy construction zones, and in a couple of airports. The device is branded Cisco, so there is no doubt which products it should work well with. However, I tested it with Cisco IP Communicator, Skype, and Microsoft Lync, and found all three to function similarly well.
The design screams “Cisco”. While the Speak 450 comes in two colors, I received a grey device that matches Cisco endpoints well. The angled speaker directs sounds towards the user, and the large buttons responded as expected. The unit I received included a Jabra Link 360 bluetooth adapter. I tested with the adapter, and with standard bluetooth connectivity. Test systems included two MacBook Pro’s (2010 and 2013), a Windows 7 laptop (with Link 360 adapter), an iPad and an iPhone.
One of the most important aspects of a battery powered speaker is runtime. The spec sheet list a 15 hour battery life. I found this to be closer to 12 hours from my use. While that is a considerable difference, I honestly had to work to keep from accidentally charging it before running it down. Also, a great feature of the device is the ability to plug into your computer via USB, working even on a dead (recharging) battery. With this ability, I don’t think it is possible to be caught in a situation where the Speak 450 cannot be used.
The sound quality of this device is very good. The speaker puts out a good volume level without distorting excessively. Users always stated that they could hear me clearly.
The secret to the microphone quality is the location of the microphone. It is located low and center on the device. It is designed to pick up audio that is bouncing off a table, or other hard surface. The spec sheet list a 120 degree coverage area, which means it rejects most unwanted room noise. This was key when working in an office that was in the middle of construction. As long as I had the speaker between me and the construction noise, so that the mic was pointing away from the source of noise, users couldn’t hear the sander, hammer drill or air compressor. This great sound rejection comes at a cost however.
My only complaint about the Speak 450 is that it can only be used by a max of 3 people. The coverage area fits three people OK as long as they are sitting around a table, relatively close together. When a fourth person is added to the mix, they are going to feel frustrated. The speaker points away from them, making it harder to understand, and they will be asked to repeat themselves regularly. If you are looking for a conference room mic for a standard 6-8 seat room, this isn’t it.
The Speak 450 from Jabra is well built, able to handle travel in a backpack without issue, provides very good audio quality and noise rejection, and has excellent battery life. While not ideal for large meetings, it is capable of handling 3 active participants with very good results. Would I buy it? Yes.***Disclaimer – I received a Speak 450 from Jabra to review for this article. Jabra has asked for my opinion only. This post is entirely my opinion, without inference or editing by Jabra.***