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Review: Sennheiser SP20 ML Speakerphone

Arguably the simplest bit of tech I’ve reviewed this year, but no less impactful in its use. The SP20 ML is a portable solution for those wishing for a tad more clarity, and simple user interfacing when making hands-free personal or small-group conference calls.

Sennheiser SP20 ML Speakerphone

PRICE: £179.99

The compact, briefcase-friendly speaker from Sennheiser comes with both 3.5mm and USB connectivity, enabling conversations via smartphone, tablet, laptop or desktop Mac/PC (using unified communications or UC platforms, such as Microsoft Lync, Cisco, Avaya, IBM and Skype).

It allows you to conference across devices – merging softphone and mobile calls into one conference – simply plug in and talk. This is a great feature for using the speakerphone in the office if people are not so tech-savvy. But that’s not all; there are still more benefits of the product, including:

  • Both 3.5mm and USB cables are stored via a neat wraparound system; it’s small and light enough to fit neatly in a bag without causing too much of a bulge, and it comes with its own soft, protective carry pouch – great for anyone on the move.
  • Portability is further enhanced with a 20-hour talk time from a two-and-a-half-hour charge, so the USB connection is only required for charging or computer-based communication. This is an advantage if, like me, you’re somewhat averse to wires, cables, and other physical connections getting in the way when you’re working.
  • Perhaps one of the key things is that all you need is a flat surface to enjoy 360° voice capture.piccie2

The speaker unit itself is well built and has a premium feel that you’d expect for the price range that it is in (I do like black and silver, and feel the design trumps its competitors’ offerings). I found using the SP20 ML is easy: simple features include a mute button, charge indicator, volume lights (LEDs), call controls, and echo cancellation. It also has a dual talk feature that allows users to talk naturally and interrupt conversations.

Sennheiser says that the SP20 ML also acts as a handy mono speaker if you fancy some music in between business calls, but don’t expect it to reproduce your banging house tunes with any real oomph, as the bass is seriously lacking.

VERDICT: This is a great little business tool, as it’s an improvement on smartphone/ laptop speakers for conferencing, and there are now a good few on the market from, among others, Jabra, Native Union, and Plantronics. Huddling around your computer or smartphone to get an ear into the group call should now be a fading memory thanks to this product, and I can see the mobile business professionals, who get a lot of travel miles, happily whipping this out of their briefcases or stylish manbags to get some group-talking action done. However, I think they’ve missed a trick, as a completely wireless solution using Bluetooth would be mildly preferable and help the usability.