Review: Revolabs Solo TableTop Wireless Microphone

solo_tbltop The Revolabs Solo USB microphone is a wireless mic/speaker for use in a meeting room setting. It can connect to a computer via USB, or to an A/V system with audio in/out. It consists of a charging base that connects directly to the audio source and a removable mic/speaker component. It communicates wirelessly via a secure, 128-bit encrypted, signal and uses digital spread spectrum to reduce interference, including the buzz from nearby cell phones. The whole package is extremely light. The mic/speaker weighs next to nothing.

It’s a simple and attractive design. The mic has a black rubber shell with a grill that flares slightly at the end. It has rubber feet that allow it to stand up or lay flat, although I’m not sure of the advantages to standing up the mic. You’d still have the ‘back’ of the mic to half of the room.

I’m not a big Skype user and I don’t do a lot of conference calls, so I leant this unit to our Program Manager who leads daily meetings between our local teams and a development partner in Belarus. Normally, he would dial in the remote team using Skype on a MBP and rely on the built-in mic and speakers. How did the Revolabs Solo compare?

General consensus from the team on the other side of the world is that the sound was significantly clearer and crisper. The remote team felt like they were ‘live’ and ‘present’ in the room. The Solo could be left on the table as different people gave their status updates and the Solo picked up everyone clearly.

A couple of improvements could be made. The interaction with the Solo takes some getting used to because the feedback is non-standard. When the unit is charging, it’s indicator light is solid green. When it is in use, it flashes green. Flashing usually means standby. This is initially confusing. Also, to prevent unwanted noise while setting up the Solo, it defaults to muted when you remove it from the base. You have to hit the mute button to unmute it before it can be used. Consensus was that this added more confusion than benefit. These are minor nits. The most important thing is the audio quality and these minor complaints don’t detract much from the overall experience.

These units start at ~$160 for the basic model. Tack on another $100 if you want the RF Armor version that drastically reduces interference. With RF Armor, you can put a GSM phone directly on top of the mic and you will get no ‘buzz’ at all.

Revolabs also has a Solo Wearable model for individual use.

Bottom Line: If your business does a lot of audio/video conferencing, the Solo could really enhance the feeling of presence for a reasonable price. If you are a podcasting/skyping/recording individual, check out the wearable line.

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