I bought this because I accidentally got blu-tack stuck in the microphone on my laptop. I was a bit wary about its size, but the microphone that WAS in my laptop was just a pin-hole, and the quality was excellent.
*The design; It's quite refreshing that this product isnt massive and imposing, I AMOST bought a desk stand microphone to use with skype, but they feel so clumsy and oversized and well, so many wires trailing across my desk. Admittedly I was a bit cautious about the size here, but I needent have been concerned because...........
*Sound quality; The sound is really crisp, if you look at the picture above, theres actually two microphones, one on each end of the device (Im assuming that both sides are microphones and that one isnt a dummy). But anyway, it picks up sound really well and cuts out alot of the background noise of the room... I can stand about 3m away and Its still pretty good over a skype connection
*pluginability; Okay so I made a word up, shoot me. But its actually quite good that it just plugs into a head phone jack.... it takes the effort out of installing drivers via USB etc. The only downside is that it then means youre at the mercy at where your headphone jack is located. If youve got a desktop PC tower on the floor, its pretty much guarenteed that your headphone jack is on the back facing a wall, not very useful for you.
*Price; for the quality of the build and sound, the price is really spectacular for this mini device.
In my honest opinion, I dont think ive seen a microphone quite as good as this for a laptop in years, its different from almost everything else on the market. I've already listed possible problems, but for most laptops it will work a charm. I also think it would work fine with dictaphones, but I have no experience of this.
This is a remarkably compact, tasteful microphone for a fiver. Whether this is your first such product and you aren't sure about spending too much until you're certain you can get a lot of use out of it, or you're simply looking for something lightweight and discreet, you really can't lose with this Hama microphone.
At 230 x 90 x 15 cm and with a weight of just 46g, this model is very sleek indeed. Resembling a silver bullet in appearance, there is no cable with this microphone. It is simply a small cylinder with a 3.5mm jack plug attached to its body, so all you need do is slot it straight into your microphone socket and is ready to use. Although it is recommended as being used with Notebooks, I have used it with my PC with much the same result. It is also compatible with any sound card.
The head of the microphone contains two small holes through which sound enters. Alignment of the device is also flexible, so there is no need to be stuck in one position when you are using it.
The microphone operates in stereo, and one of the things that surprised me about it was the quality of sound it offers. It is true that at higher volumes the device is prone to some distortion, but there is no need to whisper, either. For the price it far exceeded my expectations in the sound department as well as the visual one.
You may have to tinker about with the configuration to achieve the most suitable levels, but that is par for the course with any microphone. I have used the microphone mainly with Skype and MSN, and it is ideal for these functions. It does not offer such high quality when making sound recordings, with distortion a problem and its tendency to pick up background noise. However, for a product so affordable it is durable, discreet and guaranteed to surprise you.
At 3cm long, this dinky little microphone is the smallest thing Ive reviewed to date, so Im going for a new Guinness Record- Longest Review Proportional to Length of Item in Question. After just one sentence I am at 1.5cm of review, or already 50% of the item, so I think it will be a doddle. Results at the end of the op!
So down to business.
I recently bought this Hama Notebook Microphone after purchasing a new laptop and coming to the conclusion that I must be the only person left in the world who doesnt use Skype. Since I live a few thousand miles away from my close relatives, long distance phone calls wipe out a goodly percentage of my hard earned cash, and so the lure of Skypes free VoIP calls (Voice over Internet Protocol) has been beckoning me for a while. For those who are uninitiated, you can make free phone calls with your computer if you download Skypes software.
As you are probably aware, in order to have a successful phone conversation, you need to at times listen, and at times speak, although my brother seems unaware of this fact ;o). This means, in techno terms, that you need both a microphone (to speak into), and a loudspeaker (to hear). As far as Im aware, all modern computers come packaged up with some kind of sound card and loudspeakers tucked inside somewhere, but they dont often come with inbuilt microphones. I became aware of this fact after downloading the Skype software and then getting all ready and excited about my very first Skype call, only to find that it was going to be more of a monologue than a dialogue if I couldnt contribute anything
I wasnt really sure what kind of microphone I needed or wanted; the only thing I was sure about was that I didnt want to spend a wodge of cash or my husband would kill me, and that I only really wanted it for VoIP calls (that is to say, I wasnt planning on recording myself singing I Will Survive whilst drunk and then emailing it to all my friends, honest). I decided not to consult anyones opinion at all before buying, and headed off to my local gadget shop armed with no knowledge whatsoever.
Most of the microphones on display were the traditional looking type- either about 20-25cm long with a stand and a wire which plugs into the computer, or a mouthpiece attached to earphones. I used to wear the latter type when I worked in customer services in a previous life, and found them darn uncomfortable, and anyway I didnt need the earphones, so I was umming and ahhing about the former type when I spotted this little fellow sitting tucked away at the bottom of the shelf. What a find!
The first thing that struck me was the price- at £4.50, (actually it was cheaper where I bought it as I live in Eastern Europe, but Ill quote you the UK prices which are still smile-worthy), my initial reaction was; this must be cpra. But, what have I got to lose?! The packing told me that the microphone was designed specifically for laptops (notebooks) and with VoIP in mind, and that it could simply be plugged in and would work. So off to the check-out went I, (although its so small I bet you could half-inch it no problem ;o) )
Back home, the tough plastic packaging had to be wrestled off with some sharp scissors. For those of you who are obsessed with packaging details, the predominant colour is blue, which matches my carpet nicely. There are no instructions, because quite frankly, a squirrel could probably work out what to do next. The back of the packaging sports a few technical specifications in three or four languages.
To look at, the microphone is a small silver-coloured closed cylinder, 3cm long and 7mm in diameter. At one end there are two small holes and at the other there is just one. I dont know and cant find out if both ends pick up sound, but it certainly doesnt seem to matter which way up its pointing. At 90° from the cylinder almost halfway along it, is a smaller stick-like protrusion. This is the yang to your computers ying; or in other words, this is the bit you need to stick in the appropriate orifice. The location of the correct orifice is sometimes a little elusive, and Im afraid youll just have to keep looking and trying. Youll know when youve hit the spot. Personally speaking, mine has a little picture next to it, and is located at the front. Its quite a small one, compared to the other orifices available, but its a perfect fit ;o)
Once inserted, the microphone can be twisted vertically while in use, or horizontally when not. If youre not using it, its less than the width of the bottom half of the laptop, so it doesnt get in the way at all. I leave mine in all the time and hardly notice its there.
The technology in this particular item is a cardioid condenser microphone. These are the cheapest kind of mikes to manufacture and also have a good quality of sound pick-up. They are not the best mikes around- the king of mikes is probably the omnidirectional, but they are also pricey and not necessary for simple tasks like VoIP. The cardioid condenser is a unidirectional mike, which basically means it picks up sound mainly from the direction its pointing in. My one qualm about this mike was that if two of us were taking part in a phone call from our end, would we have to keep twisting the mike round to point to our mouths?
The verdict: Success!
I tested the mike using Windows recording feature (go to Start-All Programs-Accessories-Entertainment-Sound Recorder) and then played back. The results were good. My voice was picked up clearly, although I deny that I really sound like that ;o) since I was sitting with the laptop atop lap. The mike also picked up sarky comments from the husband and the father, sitting either side of the room at about 3-4 feet from me. During our first Skype call, the brother-in-law had no problem hearing both of us speaking at the same time with the baby mewling in the background (or maybe he was just being polite )
So, to conclude, a very cheap, handy, functional microphone that does exactly what the pretty blue packing claims.
Frequency range: 30-16000Hz
3.5mm jack plug
Sensitivity 62 +/- 3dB
www.hama.co.uk specialise in pc accessories. The rrp for this mike is £4.49.
With Skype, you can call other Skype users anywhere in the world, for however long you want, for free! You can also call normal land-lines and mobile numbers using your pc, but you need to pay for these calls (the rates are quite good though). www.skype.com
Total length of review about 47cm (in Word), or 15.5 times longer than the item ;o)