Apple’s release of the USB camera connection kit has allowed some interesting pairings of devices with the iPad. In an attempt to make the iPad even more functional, we tested out some USB audio devices with Skype to see how well the iPad would work for telephony and the results were encouraging.
First up is the Keyspan wireless Skype handset. With the wireless dongle plugged into the USB camera adapter the handset becomes a cordless audio input/output for the iPad. The sound quality is pretty good (as good as Skype on a desktop). Without the specialized drivers, the keypad on the phone isn’t operational so the device is limited to just audio (way too expensive for just that, but an interesting experiment regardless).
Pictured above are (right to left) the Keyspan handset, the wireless dongle and the Apple USB camera connection adapter.
Of course, just because you can physically plug it in, doesn’t mean the iPad is going to be happy about it. With all of these tests we saw the message above but the device still worked after pressing the ‘dismiss’ button.
After the wireless side we tried out our IPEVO USB speakerphone. It worked very well as a speakerphone, picking up talkers up to 5 feet away with no problem. The audio output plays through the USB device which has a small speaker and sounds ‘tinny’. When using it on the desktop, I normally use the Mac speakers as the output but no luck trying to use the built in iPad speakers at the same time (it’s all USB or nothing).
This definitely illustrates that we’re going to see dedicated and supported external telephony hardware in the months ahead, especially as the new iPhone OS 4.0 emerges with capabilities to make VOIP a solid reality.