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ClearOne Max Wireless review: ClearOne Max Wireless

ClearOne Max Wireless

Michael Fitzgerald
Michael Fitzgerald writes about innovation and other big ideas in business for publications like the New York Times, The Economist, Fast Company, Inc. and CIO. He’s worked as a writer or editor at Red Herring, ZDNet, TechTV and Computerworld, and has received numerous awards as a writer and editor. Most recently, his piece on the hacker collective the l0pht won the 2008 award for best trade piece from the American Society of Journalists and Authors. He was also a 2007 Templeton-Cambridge Journalism Fellow in Science and Religion.
Michael Fitzgerald
2 min read
For $599, the ClearOne Max Wireless 2.4GHz conferencing phone promises quality akin to that of competing premium systems. All told, the excellence of a conference phone is in the ears of the beholder, and ours told us that this system can hold its own against the big boys.
Although we weren't taken with the Max Wireless's design--it looks a bit like someone took Darth Vader's helmet and tried to cram it down for a game of Frisbee--the black coloring is subtle and will blend with any decor. The large base station will cover two outlets in a typical surge protector, but it takes up only the bottom plug in the standard two-outlet setup common in conference rooms and, especially, home offices. We like that the base's power supply is built in; just plug in, and you're ready to go. The speakerphone segment is rechargeable and features an LCD and a keypad. Regrettably, the keypad is overly tactile; there was always a delay between pushing the number and hearing the beep.
The Max Wireless's most notable feature is that it is cordless, meaning you can pick it up and wander around the office during calls. Plus, it frees smaller offices from buying more than one conference phone; just move the speaker to the office where you need it (as long as it's within 150 feet of the base). Other features include an onboard phone book, out-of-range and recharging alerts, and speed dial.
Real-world tests on the ClearOne provided good results. The microphone picked up sound well; in fact, listeners on the other end could hear the soft music that we were playing in the background, as well as other ambient noise. That said, these sounds were not so amplified as to interupt the conversation. We did get one complaint about our voices sounding slightly tinny, but overall, listeners could hear us loud and clear. On our end, we noticed a muffled quality at times when speaking to someone using an office headset, but otherwise, voices were clear and sufficiently loud, even if the speaker was using a cell phone and we had the volume set to the low end.