Grandstream phones (was "Asterisk over VPN over DSL / C

IronHelix wrote:

Grandstream phones are cheap plastic toys

Ah, yes, but do they work, and play well with Asterisk?

“Cheap plastic toy” is what I need right now, to help me learn more about this PBX stuff and to provide just basic telephone service.

No one is going to drop them on the floor or spill coffee on them, and if they do, they’re on their own.

I do need to initiate 3-way (or N-way) conference calling, involving other phones connected to the PBX, and also involving outside lines. Do the cheap (under $100) phones support this?

The Grandstream GXP2000 is less than $100 most places and is actually pretty good. The BudgeTone series works with Asterisk just fine, but as IronHelix said, it really is kinda cheap feeling.

conference is set up in, and handled by Asterisk.
We have one Grandsteram BudgetTone SIP phone, it’s nothing special but it’s work well with Asterisk and have no problem in conferece calls
SPA-941 is more ‘user friendly’

Yes they work wonderfully with *. Myself (and many other users here) learned about * and SIP on the grandstream BT1xx (budgetone / ‘barbietel’) series back when they were the only IP phones that didn’t cost $400. They support 3way conferencing on the phone, and you can use N-way conferencing by setting up an extension as a MeetMe conference room and transferring your callers to it. No phone is attached to this extension, its just something in the dialplan.

The phones actually work pretty well. GS is active with firmware development for the GXP2000 phones and there is a very active Wiki page for them, which GS gets bug reports from.

Also for the record- I don’t hate grandstream phones, I actually like them alot. However for a business user they will feel like a cheap toy, and that gives many clients a bad feeling about the device itself. Thus, I advise against using them for clients or anything like that unless budget is a primary issue. Also, if you get used to a GS phone and then switch to something like a Snom or AAstra, it will be night and day, even just feeling the handset in your hand :smile:.
If you want to learn and play around, Grandstream is an excellent choice. If you are selling the phones as a system, then you might want something a bit better.

for the record- I don’t hate grandstream phones, I actually like them alot.
However for a business user they will feel like a cheap toy, and that
gives many clients a bad feeling about the device itself.

Good evening, IronHelix.

The above quote was from a month or so ago when I was asking about IP phones in general and Grandstream in particular.

I just thought I’d mention that I finally ended up buying a Grandstream BudgeTone 200 for evaluation, and I actually like it so far. It was trivially easy to get it running, after I RTFM’d and found out about what I had to do to make the DTMF tones actually work with Asterisk to control voicemail, etc. As for feeling like a cheap toy, I guess some of the phones I’ve used in some of the companies I’ve worked for are cheaper and flimsier than some of the ones you’re used to, because this Grandstream seems at least average in terms of ruggedness. Not that I would try to drive nails with it, but under normal use I think it feels “professional” enough and I wouldn’t have any qualms about suggesting it to my clients who are on a budget.

All in all I’m pretty happy with Grandstream, after using this one for a whole day :smile: … I have put in a pro-bono proposal to Asterisk-ize (is that a word? ) our state’s Civil Air Patrol wing, and if they go for that I’ll probably be plunking Grandstream phones down all over the state, which will be an interesting project. :smile:

A suggestion- if you are mass deploying phones, make very very sure to set up a mass deployment system first (TFTP etc).
One thing I don’t like about GS is that the phone’s config files must be first processed with the GS config tool. Other phones do not require this. If you generate your config files from a database, this may make things more difficult.

As for them feeling cheap, they feel okay if you are used to it, but when you try a more solid phone like a Snom or AAstra it feels like night and day.

I would also highly suggest getting good screenphones for your deployment… ie phones that have a text display. BT200 as i recall only has numeric display, which isn’t nearly as good for caller-id. The GXP2000 might be a good fit (it’s certainly cheap, has a good screen and it supports PoE)
If you go with the budgetones, get the 200 not 1xx series. As I understand it, 200 is based on GXP2000 hardware and thus supports echo cancelled speakerphone, intercom, etc which bt1xx dont.

Also, GS phones by default do NOT get TFTP info from DHCP, so you must manually provision each phone at least for the tftp server.

One possible way around this- I believe by default they ship with the tftp server address as a Grandstream host for Grandstream’s hosted config service. If you add this host to your DNS as the IP of your TFTP server, it will remove the requirement to manually punch the tftp IP into each phone.

Good luck with your project!