Polycom Communicator C100S Skype IP Phone Reviews

Polycom Communicator C100S Skype IP Phone

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Great Speakerphone for Skype, BUT for Windows XP Only

Aug 12, 2008
Review by  
Rated a Very Helpful Review

Pros:Great Sound Quality, Compact, Powered by USB, Full Duplex & Echo Cancelation Technology.

Cons:USB Cable a Bit Short and Thin, Not Compatible With Windows Vista.

The Bottom Line: Lack of Windows Vista support and the short, thin USB cable are the only factors that keep this portable speakerphone from achieving a perfect 5 star rating.

I'm sure just about everyone has heard of Skype. It is an Internet communication service that allows you to make free calls to other Skype users or very low cost calls to landline phones. This service utilizes your computer and a broadband Internet connection (although there are some new devices that no longer require a computer to make Skype calls) to establish communication with other Skype subscribers and landline phones through a peer-to-peer network. To fully utilize and enjoy Skype, the market is flooded with products that work with this service. One of these products is the C100S Communicator by Polycom.

The C100S Communicator is a portable speakerphone, which connects to your computer via a USB cable. This speakerphone does not require batteries or an external power supply. The USB connection supplies both the audio communication and power for the device. The lack of needing batteries or an AC power supply makes the C100S a very compact and perfectly portable device. In fact, there is very little to this device other than the main unit itself. The entire Polycom Communicator C100S package includes the Communicator unit itself, a Setup Wizard CD, a user guide and a handy neoprene carrying case. That's all there is to it. The USB cable, needed to connect the C100S to your computer, is built into the communicator itself and wraps up in the storage area of the device (located on the backside) when not in use. The communicator slips into the included carrying case and can be tucked in a drawer between uses.

Installation of the C100S is very simple and straightforward. You insert the Setup Wizard CD into your computer and follow the onscreen instructions. When prompted, you flip open the back the back cover of the C100S, unwind the USB cable, sit the unit on a flat surface and connect the USB cable to an available USB port on your computer. You then follow the rest of the on-screen instructions, which complete the driver and software installation. In order to use the Polycom C100S you will need to have Skype installed on your computer. Since the C100S becomes your default Windows audio device, when plugged in, you can control the speaker volume and microphone levels from the Windows audio mixer. You can also adjust the speaker volume with the volume up and down buttons on the front of the C100S itself. The other buttons on the Communicator control mute, answer and hang-up calls, and there is a special button for launching the Skype application on your computer (button has a capital "S" on it). The installed software includes the Polycom C100S Manager, which allows you to test the microphone, speaker and LED functionality, allow you to check for software updates, provides an interactive tour of the C100S Communicator, and even includes a link for downloading the Skype software.

Some of the most important specifications of the C100S Communicator are as follows:

* Size: 5.25 x 3.24 x 0.85 inches
* Weight - 5.4 ounces
* System Interface - USB 1.1
* Keypad - Call Pick-up/Hand-up key, Skype Application Launch key, Volume Up/Down keys , Mute key, and LED light-ring for indication of call status
* Speaker Frequency Response - 300 Hz to 19 kHz
* Microphones - 2 Cardioid Microphones - 200 Hz to 20 kHz
* Auxiliary Audio Output - 3.5 mm Headphone Jack
* Audio Enhancements - Echo Cancellation, Automatic Gain Control, Dynamic Noise Reduction
* Communication Type - Full Duplex
* Recommended Room Size - 12 x 12 ft. or less
* Warranty - 12 Months

To use the C100S Communicator, your computer system must meet the following minimum system requirements:

- PC with 1 GHz processor
- Windows XP
- 256 MB RAM
- 30 MB hard disk space available for installation
- CD-ROM drive
- Available USB connection
- Internet connection
- Skype version 2.0 or higher

You'll notice that use of the C100S Communicator requires Windows XP. Although Polycom claims that it is working on drivers for Windows Vista, as of the time of this review the device is only compatible with Windows XP. This is unfortunate as most of today's new computers come preloaded with Windows Vista. This particular device is also not compatible with MAC operating systems. With this being said, the C100S will indeed work with Vista and MAC operating systems, but it will only work as a standard speaker and microphone. The buttons will likely not function properly and the software audio enhancements, such as echo cancellation and automatic gain control will not work since they cannot be installed. Hopefully Polycom will improve on OS compatibility in the near future.

Using the C100S Communicator is easy and trouble free. All of the control buttons on the device work as claimed, and the sound quality of the speaker is very impressive. The twin microphone pickup seems to work well, although callers have reported that my voice is sometimes a bit soft. I always have to crank up the microphone input on the Windows audio mixer, to make sure that the input level is adequate for my Skype calls. I also find the built-in USB cable to be a little too short. It measures about 2 feet in length, which requires me to sit the C100S on the very edge of my desk when I have it plugged into the computer, which is pushed back under the desk. The USB cable is also very thin, which concerns me about its durability over time. Just wrapping it up in the storage compartment of the C100S leaves some pretty sharp kinks in the cable. Since the cable is built into the Communicator, there is no way to install a replacement; at least not without taking apart the device and voiding the warranty. I have gotten past the short cord length by using a USB extension cable, but this is not an ideal solution in my opinion. Using a detachable USB cable would have been a better way for Polycom to design the C100S.

Overall I am extremely pleased with the Polycom C100S Communicator. It is light, compact and easy to transport. Installation of the device and associated software is painless and can be accomplished by even the moderately computer challenged. The sound quality is awesome and the echo cancelation feature prevents annoying feedback during calls. The built-in 3.5 mm output jack allows you to plug in headphones and external amplified speakers. The microphones are still active when you plug in a headset or speakers, so I am able to slip on some earphones for late night Skype calls, while my family sleeps without being disturbed by sound from the speaker. Other than my desire for a user replaceable USB cable, I have no complaints with the C100S Communicator. It is a bit pricey for modest Skype users, but for anyone that uses Skype extensively this device is a must have. The sound quality, audio enhancement features, easy installation and portability are worth 5 stars. However, the lack of Windows Vista support and the subpar USB cable require that I bump this rating down to 4 stars. If you have a Windows XP machine and use Skype a great deal, the Polycom C100S would be a great investment and I highly recommend it.

Recommend this product? Yes

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