Californian communications company Polycom yesterday announced the launch of the Communicator, a Skype-certified speakerphone. A hands-free device with two microphones and a speaker built into the unit, the Communicator is set to be available for under £100.

Due to hit the UK market around the end of June, the Communicator marries what is typically a very business-oriented product, a speakerphone, with a consumer-focused application, Skype.

However, using Skype as a work tool is becoming more commonplace, according to Glynn Jones, vice president of Polycom's voice business division. "30 percent of Skype users are using the service for business," he said in a briefing, citing figures put out by Skype itself.

This doesn't mean, though, that Polycom won't be pitching the Communicator at the consumer market as it plans to have a heavier retail presence with this product than previous Polycom offerings, according to Jones.

Polycom prides itself on delivering good sound quality and the Communicator worked well in a demonstration, with both voice calling and music playback. As Jones pointed out, the device had to meet a certain standard before gaining a Skype certification, as the VoIP (voice over IP) company wouldn't want faulty hardware sullying its reputation.

The Communicator connects to a PC or laptop via a USB cable and does not require an external power supply. There are five buttons on the unit - two to control the volume, one to connect or disconnect from a call, one to mute the microphones, and one to launch the Skype application. It weighs 151g and has dimensions of 133x82x22mm - about the same size as a PDA (personal digital assistant) - meaning it is very portable.

Look out for a review of the Communicator in a future issue of PC Advisor.