How to make conference calls less terrible:
- If you're not the call leader, mute your microphone. No one wants to hear you munching your lunch or your dog barking in the background.
- Dial in a few minutes before the start time so you can deal with any tech glitches that may arise.
- If you're with a group, use a decent conference speaker. The average office phone does a crummy job in that role, making the call that much worse for others.
Regarding that last point, do you need to spend hundreds of dollars to get such a speaker? Not today: For a limited time, and while supplies last, you can get the eMeet M1 OfficeCore Bluetooth speakerphone for $89.99 shipped when you apply promo code CNETEMEETM1 at checkout. It originally sold for $180 and now usually runs $140.
The M1 looks like an oversize Amazon Echo Dot. It can connect to your phone or tablet via Bluetooth, but also has a USB option in case you want a laptop hookup. It works for just about any kind of call, including Skype.
So, why this and not a regular old speakerphone? The M1 features a six-plus-one microphone array that effectively provides 360-degree omnidirectional audio capture up to 8 meters away. Translation: Everyone can be heard regardless of where they're sitting.
As an added perk, the unit is designed to be portable, meaning you can set up impromptu conference calls just about anywhere. That's thanks to its 2,600-mAh rechargeable battery, which eMeet says is good for 12 hours of calls, 20 hours of music (yep -- this can pull Bluetooth-speaker duty as well) and one month of standby time.
eMeet recommends this model for groups of three to five people. If you typically convene with larger groups, or you want a conference speaker that's even more advanced, you can pick up the eMeet M2 for $170.99 with promo code CNETEMEETM2. That model is suitable for up to eight people and has an even greater audio-pickup range.
I haven't had the opportunity to test drive the M1 myself, but the product has a 4.4-star average rating from nearly 350 Amazon customers. (The M2, for what it's worth, has an even better average from even more buyers.)
Bottom line: If your conference calls suck because it's so hard to hear and be heard, this should help -- and for a lot less than similar solutions.
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