So, what do I want out of my next laptop and what must it include?
Linksys IP Phone SPA962
For the CEO in all of us
- Support for six SIP extensions, embedded Web server, easy to use, decent call clarity
- Big, some issues with speakerphone capability
The SPA962 combines expandable VoIP functionality with an impressive array of configuration options for administrators and end users. Add ease of use to the mix, and the SPA962 becomes a great option to move a whole office to VoIP with a central configuration hub.
Price$ 339.95 (AUD)
With dual-mode phones dominating the home sector of the VoIP market, Linksys' SPA962 snubs the home consumer in favour of business-focussed approach. A pure VoIP phone, the SPA962 offers administration via an embedded Web server, support for six SIP-based extensions, and customisation by the end user, making this a fantastic option for a company-wide switchover to VoIP.
If size has direct relation to importance, then the SPA962 will make you look like a CEO. The phone features a large keypad, a four-inch display, and what can only be described as an elephantine support strut at the back. This gives the SPA962 all the subtlety of an iPhone owner. Still, large keys and an easy-to-read screen make it easy to use and configure.
The SPA962 can also be expanded to accept an extra attendant console. An RJ-11 jack on the back of phone allows for connection to the SPA932; this allows the phone to accept a maximum of 32 incoming calls.
Configuration is largely done through the embedded Web server, which is automatically set up to use a dynamic IP address. The server allows both end users and administrators to configure the device to differing degrees, and access can be controlled with a password. The Web interface is slightly convoluted in some respects, but the user is only required to know their SIP proxy and user details in order to actually get the phone up and running.
Users can also configure basic phone settings using the SPA962's display to change speed dial, call forwarding and ringer volume settings. The screen allows a personalised background (which defaults to the Golden Gate Bridge) but, oddly, this setting can only be changed by an administrator.
The phone is fairly simple to use. To call, users simply select which SIP number or extension they wish to use, and then dial the number. The SPA962 won't automatically dial the number until you actually hit the dial button — this stumped us for a few seconds. Quick access buttons on the side of the display give access to each of the six SIP extension lines, letting users select which number they want to dial out from.
Call clarity is adequate, although there are some issues. Normally any problems with call clarity are a product of the quality of the Internet connection or the quality of the VoIP provider. The SPA962 delivered excellent call clarity when using the phone's handset; voices can be slightly tinny and cold, but this is to be expected from digital telephony. The main issues we came across were when using the phone's speakerphone function. As soon as we engaged speakerphone, the call recipient's voice became prone to interference and breaking up, making it impossible to converse properly. Given the phone's business orientation, this is a significant issue and may make those all-important conference calls a nightmare to conduct.
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