Product Type: Hama Microphone
Newest Review: ... 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 co... more
My Crow Phone
Notebook Mini-Microphone - Hama
Member Name: Tricksty
Notebook Mini-Microphone - Hama
Advantages: cheap small and effective
At 3cm long, this dinky little microphone is the smallest thing Iíve reviewed to date, so Iím 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 doesnít 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 Skypeís 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 Skypeís 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 Iím aware, all modern computers come packaged up with some kind of sound card and loudspeakers tucked inside somewhere, but they donít 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 couldnít contribute anythingÖ
I wasnít really sure what kind of microphone I needed or wanted; the only thing I was sure about was that I didnít 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 wasnít planning on recording myself singing ďI Will SurviveĒ whilst drunk and then emailing it to all my friends, honest). I decided not to consult anyoneís 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 didnít 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 Iíll 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 itís 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 donít know and canít find out if both ends pick up sound, but it certainly doesnít seem to matter which way up itís pointing. At 90į from the cylinder almost halfway along it, is a smaller stick-like protrusion. This is the yang to your computerís 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 Iím afraid youíll just have to keep looking and trying. Youíll know when youíve hit the spot. Personally speaking, mine has a little picture next to it, and is located at the front. Itís quite a small one, compared to the other orifices available, but itís a perfect fit ;o)
Once inserted, the microphone can be twisted vertically while in use, or horizontally when not. If youíre not using it, itís less than the width of the bottom half of the laptop, so it doesnít get in the way at all. I leave mine in all the time and hardly notice itís 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 ďomnidirectionalĒ, 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 itís 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 Windowsí 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 politeÖ)
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 Ė62 +/- 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)
Summary: Small Mike perfect for VoIP
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