Cheap-ish speaker phone for conference calls on Skype?
February 4, 2016 2:30 AM   Subscribe

We have okay Skype calls one-to-one between our offices, but as soon as we add multiple participants at the other end, it becomes static hell. The prices for conference phones are out of our budget, so we need something under US$200 that we can plug into one person's laptop to share in a meeting room for 4-5 people on a Skype call. Please recommend something reliable and easy to use.

We're a shoestring charity, and we use Skype all the time. It's definitely bandwidth limits on the other side affecting the multiple Skype users, and there's no way to increase it because of where we're located in the city.

We got priced US$650 and up for a standard conference phone meant for telephone calls etc, but all we need is something to plug into a USB that can handle a group sitting around a small table. It would be great to have something that could be muted or have volume changed, etc. as well.

I can buy it in Singapore and bring it up with me in two weeks but I can't tell looking through all the reviews what I'm looking for as everyone I know uses either full-blown lawyer-office IT solutions or individual Skype gadgets, and I need something right in the middle.
posted by dorothyisunderwood to Computers & Internet (8 answers total)
Laptop microphones tend to be pretty poor quality. You need an external audio device - I haven't a personal recommendation but this USB Speaker Phone is a brand I have used and would trust. Much less than $200.
posted by paulash at 2:50 AM on February 4, 2016

I haven't tried it yet, but a friend of mine recommended this microphone: It is just a microphone, but muting etc. could be handled by the laptop. Definitely less than $200.
posted by nat at 3:56 AM on February 4, 2016

We use Jabra 410 speakerphones at work and they are okay - should be fine for 4-5 people on a call. UK price seems to be about £50.
posted by crocomancer at 4:26 AM on February 4, 2016

We have the Jabra 510. It would definitely be just fine for 4-5 people. It also has Bluetooth and a battery, so you can use it with a cellphone anywhere too not just with a laptop.

We also have the Snowflake mentioned above (though not intended for conference calls) and I think it would be pretty marginal for 4-5 people. I wouldn't go this route.
posted by ssg at 7:44 AM on February 4, 2016

I have had very good experience with this Polycom Communicator. It has volume control and mute buttons and very good sound quality. I have weekly Skype conferences with multiple international participants using it and like it a lot.
posted by camcgee at 1:23 PM on February 4, 2016

I agree about the USB Logitech unit. It's pretty good.
posted by reddot at 8:06 PM on February 5, 2016

Hands down the best model I have ever used in that pricerange (at least four other brands) is the Yamaha PJP-10UR . It's made like an aluminum tank and sounds better than one.
posted by Phyltre at 1:58 PM on February 8, 2016

Response by poster: All of these were great suggestions - we ended up using a $25 knock-off China microphone that one of our staff uses on her own phone after testing it, when we showed them pictures of what you were suggesting. The meetings have gone from 1-2 hours of painful Skype to 25-45 minutes of relatively clear audio in a closed office room! Thanks for saving us several hundred dollars and lots of time with a dead simple alternative.
posted by dorothyisunderwood at 1:10 AM on February 22, 2016

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