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.

This article has 5 comments

  1. Darren Reply

    Spot on Carl… after writing this I was downstairs and realised that it’s not just SUT but also anything in Sametime that uses voice such as audio chat or meetings, and was about to add that thought… but your comment beat me to it.

    To be fair, the CX100 will probably also work with Skype, no reason why it shouldn’t, and probably works with a number of other solutions too.

  2. Brian O'Donovan Reply

    I used to have one of these and it was a real joy to use. The sound quality was excellent. Unfortunately it just stopped working one day out of the blue. I definitely must buy a replacement soon.

  3. Peter Lurie Reply

    Darren,

    Apologies for not getting you the TomTom and giving you the Microsoft-branded version of the Polycom Communicator CX100. Clearly that was a mistake on our part.

    Polycom actually make 3 versions of the Communicators: the CX100, the C100S (branded for Skype) and C100 (generic). All three work basically the same way, and all three will work out of the box with the generic Windows drivers. They’ll do a better job of echo cancellation if you do load the Polycom 2.1 drivers from http://www.polycom.com/support/voice/communicator/communicator_c100.html

    I also have configuration instructions on how to make the application button on the Communicator launch Lotus Sametime (or bring it to the foreground if running). Very useful with a soft client. I use mine with Sametime Standard 8.5.1 all day long.

    If you (or anyone) has questions about using Polycom products with Lotus Sametime, please feel free to ping me at peter.lurie@polycom.com or the Polycom-IBM team at IBM@polycom.com

    Peter Lurie
    Global Unified Communications Architect for IBM
    POLYCOM, Inc.

  4. Darren Reply

    Hi Peter… don’t worry about the TomTom, as a vendor I know that we don’t get the goodies. But the Communicator was a great freebie and I’ve been using it every day since. I asked Ray if I could blag a couple more as they’re perfect for demos (as I mentioned). One of my colleagues was kicking himself because he left without one.

    Thanks for the driver info, and I’m really interested in how the application button will work with Sametime.

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