On Monday of this week, I offered up Spracht's Aura Mobile BT Bluetooth-based speaker phone to the ZDNet reader that could best convince me why s/he should be deputized into testing the device for us. It's worth $150 and not only can it operate as a speakerphone for your Bluetooth-based cell/smartphone (it can sit on a desk or clip to a sun visor in your car), it can also be a speakerphone for your VoIP app of choice (eg: Skype) or your cordless landline phone (wires are supplied for the latter two cases). I actually did a video review that included this device a few months ago and wasn't impressed. But, I'm just one person. You might disagree which is why I decided to seek a second opinion from one of our readers.
So, who is the lucky reader this week? We had 27 entries that arrived by the deadline and as usually, some of the pitches were quite titillating:
redsk8r: But mainly I just need something to get my mind off the now ex-boyfriend who already has his Bluetooth headset (DB: I know this is your third try....but we're still not convinced that you'd be as good a tester as the best entries we are seeing. Please keep trying).
S.L. Buckner: I don't have a driver's license, which puts me at the mercy of this truly wonderful person...who also happens to be one of the most oblivious drivers.... PLEASE help me feel safe by allowing him to speak to a wireless device when I ride with him, rather than my having to live in mute terror while he fumbles for the phone! (DB: Maybe if you take the battery out of the phone when s/he's not looking, it'll be like taking the bullets out of somebody's gun).
Brian: I will be using it mostly in the car which in FL it can get up to 140 Deg inside while you are on a job (DB: Or, a tester could just put the device into an oven set to 140 degrees and see what happens).
PC_Pro: ...Last weekend I went out on a long range fishing trip. While I was heading to the boat, walking across the dark parking lot, totally loaded down with all my gear, extra clothes, small cooler, etc., I tripped over a curb wall that separates the parking lot from the sidewalk. There was a large SUV illegally parked there that created a shadow from the parking lot light..... (DB: We wish you a speedy recovery to one of the better fish tales we've heard in a while).
And finally, the winner. Not only did JacobR seem to understand the Aura Mobile BT's unique selling proposition as a single converged device for many purposes, but he seems pretty uniquely qualified to give it a run for it's money in a variety of scenarios. Wrote JacobR:
VOIP, analog, cell convergence?
Too often, we see IT SOLUTIONS that are looking for PROBLEMS. In this case, a real-world problem is being solved by a rather simple implementation of a unifying technology: Bluetooth.
As a practicing physician and Medical Director for a health technology company, I am often in the position of evaluating the speed-bumps that lie in the way of true productivity - both for myself and for my colleagues in this high-risk profession.
I see patients in up-state New York. I work for North Carolina company and a Massachusetts publisher of medical news (http://firstwatch.jwatch.org) and I travel frequently. I spend at least 1/2 of every day communicating remotely with someone somewhere.
We use a self-hosted VOIP PBX in my practice, and I've spelled out some forward-looking ideas for how we (the industry) could leverage a VOIP PBX to make our practices more efficient (http://tinyurl.com/f49cp) .. I use a Treo 750p (with analog headphone) for conferences while mobile, I use a grandcentral dial-in number so that I can switch phones during calls between my cell and my VOIP line .. I use skype and gtalk (usb headphone attached to PC) for quick "stand-up" meetings with our agile development teams in North Carolina, Texas, Utah or Oregon, and I use an array Mic (@ home) or a hand-held USB Phillips speechmike Pro (@ the office) for speech recognition when writing long documents or patient medical record notes.
The jacks for the analog headphones fit the cordless phones at home, and the cellphone, but even the best headset lasts only a month or so - and none of them tolerates transportation very well, so replacement of these is a common event. Headsets for the computers, of course, don't use the same jacks as the phones (and it seems that no adapters exist for this rather obvious need!) and USB does seem to provide a bit better quality over analog, which helps the voice recognition. So I have USB and analog microphones & headsets in several locations, causing a rather chaotic array of communication devices in all of my work locations (home office, work office, car, travel bag)
The big question is .. can this device allow me to converge all of these needs into one portable, high quality, convenient tool? If so - it's well worth the $150. We'll see!
Congratulations JacobR. We'll be in touch shortly to get the product to you. And to the rest of you who have attempted to get deputized into our program one or more times, please keep trying! Who knows? You could be the next ZDNet Deputy Tester of the Week!