Sunday, January 09, 2005

Skullcandy LINK Cellular Handsfree converter

(review from a while back)

Not an anorexic redneck, but Skullcandy's logo.

Being such a dynamic and successful entrepreneur (pause to laugh hysterically, then cry) yet with a craving to listen to portable audio, I have frequent problems in missing calls as I'm listening, especially when I'm using isolating phones. My hunt was for a handsfree unit that would act as an audio/phone mixer in order to allow me to listen to the portable audio unit while still allowing me to answer calls. My searches turned up the Skullcandy LINK handsfree unit. They manufacture not only the unit I'm reviewing here, but also those with wired-in headphones of the earbud and neckband variety. I don't think any card carrying Head-Fi member would be buying those, would you? So it was the LINK model with a headphone jack that I ordered for the Ericsson T610, my primary phone.

How it works is pretty simple. It comes with a socket coming out of the metallised olive green coloured LINK for you to plug your phone into. Then there are two connectors coming out of the other end via a longish wire, a standard 3.5mm jack plug for your audio player, and the other connector will be one of a variety of possible connectors depending on your phone.

The LINK unit has a microphone, a call answer button and a volume control. It has a clip at the back to attach reasonably securely to somewhere around your collar area.

In normal use, you turn up the volume control on the LINK unit so that you can hear the music from your player. The volume control only affects the signal from the player. If an incoming call comes in, you're alerted via the ringing sound (will differ according to mobile phone) mixed into the audio signal. You turn down the volume control on the LINK unit and press the call answer button. Then the LINK behaves like any other handsfree unit. After your call has ended, you just turn the volume back up.

Is it expensive? No. It cost me under £20. So in the US that's probably $20.
Does it work? Yes.
Is it easy to use? Yes. Just spin the volume dial when you get a call, then hit the answer button. By accident or by design, the volume potentiometer seems to do the majority of its work within about a 10 minute arc which is a usefully short throw. Obviously for that reason too, precise volume adjustment of your audio signal can be tricky.
Does it affect the audio signal? I'm sure it does, it's pretty cheap electronics all around.
Particularly noticeably? No I don't think so.
Is it convenient? It's a lot better than fumbling in your pockets for the phone, pulling out your Etymotics/Shures with the grimace that I'm sure we all make, talking, then re-inserting said phones pulling up your ear in the manner of some sort of obscure cult greeting.
I think I can see a problem with cables... You'd be right. The fixed Y cable split between the phone and the player is too short. If your player works from a remote, an extension cable is a necessity. The same is true if you want to store your player some distance from the phone.
Other problems? There was one time when the other party couldn't hear me talking. However it worked again when I reconnected the Skullcandy to the phone. If you own several phones with different handsfree connections, you need a different LINK for each as they don’t sell adaptors nor a universal model.
Any useful goodies with it? You do get a Minidisc player-sized PVC bag with the Skullcandy logo on it.

Verdict: It's simple and it works.


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