The Difference Between Half and Full Duplex Explained
"Duplex" simply means you're able to send and receive data (most
often the human voice) from the same device whether that be with
your phone, 2-way radio, or PC.
Half-duplex devices let you send and receive, but only one-way at
a time. If you've ever used a walkie-talkie, then you know what
half-duplex conversations sound like. You have to push the TALK
button to send your message. But as long as you are holding the TALK
key, you can't hear what anyone else is saying. You must release the
button to receive.
That's the big problem with the old-fashioned speakerphone: it's
only a step up from a walkie-talkie. In essence, it pushes a virtual
TALK button every time you start to speak and cuts off the person on
the other end. When you've finished speaking, the speakerphone then
transmits what the person on the other end is saying. Those cut-off
sentences and stop-start conversations can be frustrating to say the
least. Two-way radio etiquette has you saying "over" when you're
finished speaking so whoever's on the other end knows they can begin
speaking. Can you imagine having to do the same on all your business
Enter full duplex
Actually, full duplex is nothing new. In fact, you already know
exactly what it sounds like. Your corded or cordless phones are
full-duplex devices letting you and your caller speak simultaneously
without any dropouts in either one of your voices.
It's when you use a hands-free speakerphone that you really
appreciate full duplex. Conventional speakerphones must shut the
speaker off when the mic is activated so as not to pick up your
caller's voice and transmit it along with yours causing an echo
effect. When you speak, you can't hear what your caller is saying.
This problem is really compounded if both of you are using
conventional speakerphones. A full-duplex device digitizes the
signal coming out of its speaker (your caller's voice). It then
edits this info out of the signal it's transmitting (your voice)
using a built-in digital processor similar to those found in PCs.
This eliminates echo effect and more importantly, does away with the
on-off mic/speaker dilemma. Full-duplex devices do all of this
virtually instantaneously so your calls sound natural and
free-flowing. It's this technology that differentiates high-end
conferencing systems from ordinary, half-duplex speakerphones.
What's "digital duplex"?
Panasonic is trying to rectify the sometimes awful, always annoying
half-duplex sound quality typical of conventional speakerphones by
using what they call Digital Duplex technology. While it doesn't
quite deliver the same sound quality as full duplex, the special
digital circuitry does help reduce the echo and dropout effects.
What about talking on the internet?
If you're using your PC to talk on the internet, it's best to
install a full-duplex sound card in your PC. Because internet talk
has a host of obstacles specific to the medium it must
overcome—bandwidth, internet traffic, connection speed—why add the
frustration of stop-start, half-duplex conversations? The time and
cost of a full-duplex sound card are worth it.
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