5 Ways Logitech Wants To Replace Your Phone

Keyboard Phone

Peripheral-maker Logitech wants to replace your phone with a keyboard. The company in April began shipping the Logitech UC Solution for Cisco 725-C, an ordinary-looking keyboard for Windows PCs that adds nine dedicated keys for managing calls. The new product works with the Cisco Jabber audio- and videoconferencing client for Cisco-based UC systems. Here's a quick look.

Audio, Video And All

For $269, the solution includes the Logitech K725-C Keyboard itself plus the company's C920-C Webcam HD camera and the M525 Wireless Mouse laser-based precision pointer with scroll wheel and wireless USB dongle. The keyboard supplies a USB port that's intended for the USB dongle, so the three peripherals together occupy just two USB ports on the host computer.

More Keys, Please

Some of its phone-dedicated keys are (from left to right) the handset, headset and speakerphone keys. At center is a backlit LCD that presents caller-ID information when calls are coming in, switches to call duration during the call and otherwise shows the date and time. Moving further right on the top row are the hold key, and call pickup and hangup keys. A single press when a call is incoming (and flashing red) answers the call (turning it solid green) and brings up the Jabber window. A second press terminates the call. Below are dedicated keys for video and audio mute (red when muted) and a call volume rocker key.

The keyboard includes much of the key functionality that might otherwise go away with the phone, and helps eliminate a primary fear workers face, according to Logitech, when confronted with the specter of having to use so-called soft phones. "People get nervous when you try to take away their desk phone," a Logitech spokesperson said. "Even if they're not using it much, they still don't want to lose it; it's like a security blanket."

You've Got Voicemail

As anyone with voice mail knows, it's far more convenient to get a visual cue when you've got a message waiting than to hear it from a stutter dial-tone just as you're about to make another call. The message-waiting key lights up red when there's a new voice-mail message but doesn't retrieve the message when pressed; Logitech is working on that function for a later release, the Logitech spokesperson said.

Video Calls

The Logitech solution includes a full HD webcam that easily mounts to a laptop lid, conventional monitor or tripod, and furthers the notion of ubiquitous videophones that's been with us almost since the telephone itself. The C920-C Webcam can capture 1080p at 30 frames-per-second and has a 78-degree field of view to easily facilitate multiple-party calls.

For $269 list, the Logitech UC Solution for Cisco 725-C is a sturdy, well-conceived solution that's suited to trading floors, call centers, retail and other areas with limited desktop space. The way Logitech sees it, the convergence of communications presents open doors for resellers. "Phone, video, email and instant messaging were once all running as separate systems. Now that they're coming together, it's an important opportunity for resellers to offer converged solutions," the spokesperson said. The solution works with Windows desktops and laptops, and requires Cisco Jabber 9.2 or later. It runs on Cisco Unified Communications Manager systems with the accessory manager feature enabled.