Matrix Audio’s Bluetooth Speakerphone Makes a Difference

While I was wandering the aisles of CEA last month, I was attracted to Matrix Audio’s booth and their collection of shiny baubles. What at first I thought were Christmas decorations turned out to be spheroid-shaped Bluetooth speakers. Even better, for their teeny size, they had a big bass sound.

What interested me about the Matrix One is that, beside its audio boosting powers, the One also has an embedded mic. It’s a speakerphone that can be paired with any Bluethooth voice device.

I almost had forgotten about my lifeline MacBook and iPad’s Bluetooth capabilities until my recent chat with Open Garden’s Micha Benoliel. Benoliel, by the way, has an expansive vision for Bluetooth as a way to build a ginormous short-hop network.

In any case, with my interest in Bluetooth recharged, I realized that a Matrix speakerphone would have practical value for my telephony applications. So after the folks at Matrix kindly sent me over a review version recently, I got busy switching on my under-utilized Bluetooth transmitters.

First up was using the Matrix One speakerphones as a replacement for the clumsy USB headset that I’m forced to wear when interacting with the X-Lite SIP softphone on my Mac.

As a nomadic worker, I’m very much dependent on my MacBook for everything–email, entertainment, SIP phone, and as a metallic tray for my lunch. I never liked the sound from the Mac speakers–no one does. And I’m always forgetting to pack the USB headset. Unfortunately, the Mac’s built-in microphone produces an annoying deal-killing echo at that other endpoint. I held hope that advanced gadgetry would one day come to the rescue.

And it has. After pairing the Matrix One with my MacBook, I tried a few VoIP phone calls. There was a tolerable echo–hard to eliminate completely with VoIP–but far less than what my callers are used to experiencing. I was also finally enjoying the benefits of a clear, boosted audio sound. Overall, it was a vastly improved phone call.

Next up, the iPad. It was another relatively quick Bluetooth pairing, but this time I was using my Media5-fone softie phone. Again, little echo, and good quality for a VoIP call.

Sure the Bluetooth pairing process can require more than one try, but once connected I rarely lost the signal.

The most obvious use for the Matrix One is as a hands-free device for cellular calls while driving. With a little Velcro, I was able to attach the Matrix spheroid to the dashboard area of my Corolla (see pic above). I then linked it to my LG phone. I took a few phone calls during my test drive, and I can report it was all pretty smooth and effortless.

The Matrix One ($79.99) measures about 2″ in diameter, weighs about as much as a yo-yo, and I suppose it would be possible to attach it to a key chain. It has a rechargeable battery that delivers 14-hours of playback.