A few weeks ago I received an invite to the grand opening of Polycom’s new Executive Briefing Centre at a plush 16th floor location near Liverpool Street station. Today marked the event, and I have to say that Polycom’s new location is tremendously impressive – if you get an invite, take the opportunity to visit them.

Joined by my frolleagues Stuart McRae and Murat Gunenc, I was there because we’re partners with Polycom in the UC² market offering integration with Sametime 8.5.1. After presentations, demos, drinks and nibbles – and catching up with my very good friend Tony ‘Binge Thinking’ Cocks – it was time to depart and make my way to Waterloo to catch the Ascot Express (it was too late for one of the two direct trains back to Camberley).

As I handed my badge in I was offered a parting gift, but the lady from Polycom apologised that they were only giving the TomToms to customers. A TomTom One, just for turning up at an event with free drinks…? That’s what I call generous. If you were the owner of one of the many non-attendee badges, right now you should be kicking yourself. Anyway, I have a TomTom XL and I understood that the gifts were for customers (I could have argued that IBM are a Polycom customer, but that would have been rather petty), so ’twas no big deal. Instead the nice lady offered me some rather expensive-looking pens or a ‘communicator’.

I’m okay for pens and the picture of the communicator on the box looked interesting so I gratefully received the gadget. On the train (a journey which offers lots of available time) I took a closer look and saw that the product was actually a Polycom CX100 Speakerphone For Microsoft Office Communicator 2007. At this point I was tempted to eject the box out of the train window, but not wanting to hit the 18:57 from Hampton Court I decided to inspect the device further. It’s got speakers, it’s got a microphone, it’s got a flap on the back that opens, and underneath said flap is a USB cable and connector. The instruction booklet says, and I quote:

In order to use the Polycom CX100 Speakerphone, Microsoft® Office Communicator 2007 must be installed on your computer.

I arrived home, kissed the current Mrs A, hugged the offspring (beaming from a wonderful first day at her new school) and suffered a frenzied attack of affection from an excited micro-dog. Then I put Polycom’s claim to the test… would this nifty box of tricks work without Office Communicator 2007, and would it work with Sametime Unified Telephony? Answer… of course it does. Windows XP recognised it, so did the MacBook Pro, and switching over to SUT’s softphone both of them provided perfect integration.

And not only does it work, it’s the perfect thing for SUT demos. Earlier today I demoed SUT, but there’s always an audio barrier to break when in front of an audience. Can you hear this voice coming out of my mobile phone or my wireless headset? Maybe if you’re right down the front next to me. But with the CX100 we have the perfect telephony end-point for letting the audience hear what’s going on.

While I have no plans to relegate my Plantronics head-set to a dusty drawer, I have a feeling I’ll be using the CX100 a lot (and I should also mention it comes with a smart carrying pouch). I intend to call my Polycom contact tomorrow and see if I can blag a couple more, because it’ll be such a useful addition to our SUT briefings. But I think I should mention that Polycom need to correct their marketing message – it’s not just for Office Communicator… this integates with SUT too.