I have found myself using Skype more and more recently, particularly since some good friends have moved to Australia.
Over the years I have used a number of ways to make Skype calls. I have used the speaker and microphone on my netbook, a VoIPVoice Cyberphone-w handset and a Polycom Communicator.
The laptop only experience is ok but the sound is very tinny. The Cyberphone and the Communicator are both excellent devices but I don’t like holding the handset on long calls, particularly when they are video too and the communicator is really better suited for conference calls and neither are suitable for travelling. So when I saw the Freetalk Everyman USB headset for Skype reviewed recently I thought I would give it a go.
They turned up in a small cardboard box with just a single sheet of instructions. Well I say instructions but actually there were just six pictures with either a large red cross or green tick over each. Fortunately set-up was a doddle – just plug-in and go. Skype recognises the headset and asks if you want to use them to make calls.
The call quality was excellent both for me and the other party who commented on how much better it was than usual. The headset makes use of what Skype calls super wideband audio which is included in v4 and improves call quality even at low bandwidth. Having your ears covered means that there is no distraction from external noise which obviously also makes things better.
You can also use the headset as a normal set of headphones. There is a standard 3.5mm jack which can be plugged into a laptop/iPod etc. and then is plugged into a junction box on the cable when you are using them as a headset. Sound quality is reasonable if a little thin but certainly better than the standard iPod headphones for example.
The design is neat too in that they are designed to fold flat (see picture below) and the mic is bendy so it can be folded out the way when you are not using it. The headset folding mechanism is not dissimilar to that used by Sennheiser in its range of headphones, however, the Freetalk doesn’t come with any case. Given that the headset is going to be chucked into my laptop bag I realised that it needed to have a case of some sort. The solution was to buy this pencil case from WH Smiths. It’s a squeeze but it does provide protection (see images below) and has room for some other bits and pieces too.
So, to summarise, the Freetalk headset is a recommended device, particularly for those on the move who want good quality combined with portability. They are available from the Skype online shop for £18.51.