Need help selecting phones


#1

Hello, I’m new to asterisk but here’s what I’m looking to do:

  1. 4 POTS lines coming into a Digium TDM400P/TDM04B 4-FXO card
  2. Small office with 7-8 phones, 4 lines, overhead paging
  3. Would like something that has the ability of Power over Ethernet (PoE) but not required
  4. Would like something that doesn’t look/feel/sound cheap… I want something that’s affordable, but won’t sacrafice quality
  5. Must be able to use all four lines from phones, I’m slightly confused about this because I see some phones you have to pay more to get access to multiple lines?

So, I’ve done a little research… I sort of like the Grandstream GXP-2000 because it comes with 11 lines out of the box, but I’ve read some really bad things around it regarding sound quality, echo, etc. It sounds like it could be a winner if they were to fix those issues. I also sort of like what I see in the linksys/sipura SPA-941, but I don’t like how it’s only got one ethernet port instead of two. Some of the Cisco phones look nice, but I’d prefer to spend around or less than $200/phone. Also, it appears that theres some headaches in dealing with Cisco in order to get updated firmware, support, etc. The Polycom phones look like they only support 3 lines for the 501. I think I’d like the Polycom ones if I could get all four lines, however… 3 might work.

So… after searching the forums, and reading around, I’m not sure exactly what to get. What do you think?


#2

I just set up an *@H box for a small office like yours, and I am still testing it at home. I am very pleased with my grandstream 2000 using the current firmware (.9). I have tried voicemail, moh, transfer, using it as a home phone and these seem to work well. I found it for about $84 online. I also got a handytone 386 for some cordless phones and these work well too.


#3

I’ve used the Grandstream phone too. It has some quirks but they all do and you can’t beat the price. I’m always curious when I see people “needing” to have all the lines. Can you share why it’s needed to be able to have 4 lines on one phone? I’ve never seen a real need for it.


#4

Grandstream 2000’s are growing up quick with new firmware updates. 1.0.1.13 is posted to voip-info.org, and it works quite well. It generated a large amount of Wiki feedback and the next version is being worked on.

Also check out the Aastra 9133i and 480i. The 9133 is a great office phone and the 480 is very capable- you can write XML applications to run on that huge display.

Polycom is almost as bad as Cisco when it comes to firmware. I try to avoid them for that reason.

On another note- forget the concept of lines, as you do not need them. Getting a 4-line SIP phone is not required to use 4 analog phone lines, and the LINE lights at the top won’t light up when the line is in use.
Any phone with at least 1 line will be fine for you. If you set Asterisk up correctly, assign each user 1 (one) sip account (aka one line on their phone). Then configure dialing out to use zap grouping. What this will do- anybody can pick up the phone and dial (according to your dialplan). They will be able to (if you set it up) dial each other by extension or dial 9+number or just a number to make an outgoing call. Asterisk will select an available line, and use it to connect them to their outgoing call.

On a Grandstream 2000, you can provision only 1 sip account if you want. Then the other 3 lines act as additional call appearances, IE if joe calls bob, and then alice calls joe, joe sees his line 2 ringing. “Line 2” doesn’t mean anything really, its just another call appearance.


#5

Possibly because I don’t have a full understanding of callgroups, and asterisk configuration. Right now the original PBX Meridian system that is being used with the Nortel phones allows 3 lines at every phone. The PBX obviously routes the calls that if an outside dialer dials line 1, any 3 of the lines will ring. However, if line 1 and line 2 are busy, we need people to use line 3. Perhaps there are easier ways of doing this, but for a convience matter, having the ability to select any of the lines is important. Also, line 4 is a “hotline” number. In reality, only one phone should be able to access it for outgoing or incomming calls and it will not be linked to the main office phone number unlike how like 1 is linked to 2 and 3 for inbound.

So basically… we have the following:

line one - 555-1111
line two - 555-2222
line three - 555-3333
line four (hotline - only one phone for in/out) - 555-9999

None of the phones/numbers belong to a single person, however we would like the phones to have internal extensions so an outside number doesn’t need to be linked to a particular phone (with the exception of the hotline) but an extension does so that inter-office calls can be made.

So, if I want to allow 555-1111 to ring on all lines, then I can do that. If someone picks up the phone, they should get the first available line. The hotline is independant of the other three.

So, I’ll try to stear clear of the polycom too.

One thing about the Grandstream I’ve heard is that it looks and feels very “cheap” or light… any comments on that?


#6

All of what you ask, asterisk can do. You can have callers on any line be greeted with the name of your business and asked to enter the extension they want to call (you can then have as many SIP phones as you want). They can also press 1 for sales, 2 for service, etc. This is called an IVR menu (interactive voice response), and is easy to program with extensions.conf.
Unlike your Meridian PBX, no real mapping between phones and lines exists or is required. You can setup 500 1-line sip phones in your office, plug 3 lines into Asterisk and when anybody picks up the phone and dials, they will get the first line that’s free or if no lines are free they get an error tone.
You can also separate behaviors by line, so lines 1-3 give you the IVR menu (thank you for calling skd5aster’s company, please enter your parties extension or press 1 for sales…), line 4 (being in a different zaptel group and context) instead rings only a small group of phones, and nobody that picks up the phone can dial out on it unless they enter a prefix code or are dialing from a special phone.


#7

Regarding phones: I just got a batch of SNOM 320s, and I have to say these are some pretty slick phones. Good sound quality, both in the handset and the speaker phone. Easy to configure ( takes longer to configure asterisk than one of these phones ), great for mass deployment.

Only downside is I don’t know about the intercom. The phones do support auto-answer, but I can’t tell you anything about that as I haven’t used it yet.


#8

We have used the following phones throughout several installs:

Grandstream GXP-2000
Uniden UIP200
Snom 360
Aastra 480i
Aastra 480i CT (Includes a cordless)
Aastra 9133
Polycom 501
Sipura SP841
UT Starcom F1000 WiFi phone

Here is what we have found:

GXP2000 - A good cheap phone, but with a lot of small quirks. Defect rates are high, we average 1 in about 15 have issues. We have installed around 50 or so of these.

Uniden UIP200 - PITA to program, no web interface, no line/call appearance. Solid phone to use though, nice speakerphone

Snom 360 GREAT phone, does exceptional as a receptionist phone, especially with the sidecar. Can’t find any major flaws with it. Highly configurable, easy firmware updates.

Aastra 480i - The web interface is now much improved, somewhat of a pita to program via tftp, but once it’s done, it’s now easy to replicate and setup more phones. Config via web, tftp, ftp, http, or hhtps. Solid performing phone, excellent speaker phone. We really like these phones.

Aastra 480i CT - Even better, the cordless addition is outstanding.

Aastra 9133 - Just like the 480i, this is a solid phone. Same phone, without all the bells and whistles like the big display.

Polycom SP501 - Excellent quality phone, superb speakerphone. PITA to program, XML config files only. Web interface is USELESS. IMO, go with the Snom or Aastra until someone comes out with an XML config file generator.

Sipura 841 - Only used one on our test platform. One phone was enough. Cheap phones.

UTStarcom F1000 - Nice Wifi phone, seems they still have quite a few issues to work out of the firmware though. We have tried the latest beta and it still has issues with WPA-PSK. Also stores WPA/WEP/etc keys in clear text on the phone. The user interface is clunky and kind of confusing .

So, my favorties are the Snom 360 and Aastra 480/9133. I personally use a 480i CT and love it.

Just my $.02…


#9

agit8or-

Great list!

Two quick Qs, on the Sipura 841 you said you had some problems. I’m curious what they are, i’ve heard good things about it (i dont use them cuz of the lack of a backlight tho)

UTStarcom- their support site makes you register. Once you do, can you get firmware or do they make you buy a service contract like cisco? If so, how much is it?


#10

soyousa.com/products/proddesc.php?id=307


#11

Actually it’s not lack of understanding of Astrisk. It’s more accurately a lack of understanding of what a PBX is. I suspect the Meridian system is a key system where all lines are represented by buttons on every phone. This is not what a PBX does which is deal with the physical paths in and out of the building and let the users simply make and receive calls. This is a fundamental paradigm shift you’ll have to get over to use any PBX effectively.

Possibly because I don’t have a full understanding of callgroups, and asterisk configuration. Right now the original PBX Meridian system that is being used with the Nortel phones allows 3 lines at every phone. The PBX obviously routes the calls that if an outside dialer dials line 1, any 3 of the lines will ring. However, if line 1 and line 2 are busy, we need people to use line 3. Perhaps there are easier ways of doing this, but for a convience matter, having the ability to select any of the lines is important. Also, line 4 is a “hotline” number. In reality, only one phone should be able to access it for outgoing or incomming calls and it will not be linked to the main office phone number unlike how like 1 is linked to 2 and 3 for inbound.

So basically… we have the following:

line one - 555-1111
line two - 555-2222
line three - 555-3333
line four (hotline - only one phone for in/out) - 555-9999

None of the phones/numbers belong to a single person, however we would like the phones to have internal extensions so an outside number doesn’t need to be linked to a particular phone (with the exception of the hotline) but an extension does so that inter-office calls can be made.

So, if I want to allow 555-1111 to ring on all lines, then I can do that. If someone picks up the phone, they should get the first available line. The hotline is independant of the other three.

So, I’ll try to stear clear of the polycom too.

One thing about the Grandstream I’ve heard is that it looks and feels very “cheap” or light… any comments on that?[/quote]


#12

[quote]
One thing about the Grandstream I’ve heard is that it looks and feels very “cheap” or light… any comments on that?[/quote]

My users really like them.

Only a couple of issues,

The microphone is way to sensitive
call waiting is annoying

I also like the Aastra phones, more business like quality, but…
Unlike the Grandstreams, if a key is set to BLF, it can’t be used as a speed dial as well (why not!)
Microphone is too quite.
With the 480, if you pickup the handset, all the speed dials disappear (it’s a feature according to Aastra) so speed dials only available in speaker phone mode (why again?)
I can’t get Unattended transfers to work
Call waiting is better on this phone, only one beep

In conclusion, if you want something for an office where all phones ring on one inbound call, go grandstream. If you have individual offices, go with Aastra.

Having said that, both companies are releasing updates at great pace, so if I were patient, I’d go with the Aastra sets


#13

According to Aastra, BLF will be fixed on the next fw release. We’ll see. :smile: Can’t figure out why they made BLF only display and not dial.


#14

i have to go with the polycoms just my 2 cents


#15

UTStarcom F1000 software is available from the authorized distributors of the phone. The user forum has information but not software.


#16

which phones are compatible with *@H out of the box?


#17

almost any of them. Any SIP-compliant phone will work well with asterisk. However, different phones are easier or harder to configure and make work the way you want them to.

Grandstreams are (update your firmware first) very easy, their only ‘quirk’ is that you need to use SIP INFO dtmf (RFC doesnt work as well). Many Asterisk users (including myself) learned about VoIP with Grandstream products, especially back a year or two ago when the BT100 was the only IP phone that didn’t cost $350+.
SNOM are awesome phones. Their quirk is that you have to jump through a hoop to get the phone’s voicemail button to work (it’s not configurable like every other phone).
Aastra i’ve heard works quite well, although on this forum i’ve heard a few problems making them work with asterisk@home with the new 1.3 firmware. Not sure what’s going on there, butr 95% of what i’ve heard about them is glowing. I’m considering buying a 480i-CT for myself.
Linksys/Sipura phones are also good. The 841 has a crappy display. both the 841 and 941 are like the Sipura ATAs- they have an astounding number of options. I often have to use Ctrl-F to find the one I want when configuring Sipura products via HTTP.

Any SIP phone you get will have to be configured for your system. However, they should also work ‘out of the box’


#18

We personally have done several installs using Aastra 480i, 480i CT, and 9133 with the 1.3fw and have had no problems with AAH. Here is a list of issues and defective problems and ‘quirks’ we have had with GXP-2000s:

Out of 68 GXP-2000 phones we have sold:

Qty.2 - Bad AC adapters - One actually melted.
Qty.3 - Volume on handset changes randomly. Regardless of fw or settings. One call will be at xx volume level, another call at xxx volume level. Confirmed issue with the phone, replacement resolves issue.
Qty.2 - Phone randomly resets. Replacement phone also resolved this issue.
Qty.5 - LCD Displays have a ‘burnt’ look to them
Qty.4 - User can wiggle ethernet cable and it makes intermittant network connection. Replacing cable does not correct issue, rj45 jack does not fit tightly in recepticle.

Yes, the GXP-2000s are getting better with recent fw releases, such as the speakerphone ‘fix’ and BLF support. Grandstream is also slow at fw updates and quality control is poor to say the least. It has the ability to be a great phone with some work IMO. They are however one of the better low end sip phones.

I have yet to have a SNOM phone go bad and only had one bad 480i . We don’t sell enough Polycom’s for me to form an opinion about QC on them, the horrible web interface and xml based config file provisioning has made us feel more comfortable using the Snom and Aastra phones. Someone should come out with an XML config file generator for the Polycom phones. From using one here in the office, it’s a terrific speaker phone and has a ton of programming options.


#19

[quote=“agit8or”]We personally have done several installs using Aastra 480i, 480i CT, and 9133 with the 1.3fw and have had no problems with AAH. Here is a list of issues and defective problems and ‘quirks’ we have had with GXP-2000s:

Out of 68 GXP-2000 phones we have sold:

Qty.2 - Bad AC adapters - One actually melted.
Qty.3 - Volume on handset changes randomly. Regardless of fw or settings. One call will be at xx volume level, another call at xxx volume level. Confirmed issue with the phone, replacement resolves issue.
Qty.2 - Phone randomly resets. Replacement phone also resolved this issue.
Qty.5 - LCD Displays have a ‘burnt’ look to them
Qty.4 - User can wiggle ethernet cable and it makes intermittant network connection. Replacing cable does not correct issue, rj45 jack does not fit tightly in recepticle.

Yes, the GXP-2000s are getting better with recent fw releases, such as the speakerphone ‘fix’ and BLF support. Grandstream is also slow at fw updates and quality control is poor to say the least. It has the ability to be a great phone with some work IMO. They are however one of the better low end sip phones.

I have yet to have a SNOM phone go bad and only had one bad 480i . We don’t sell enough Polycom’s for me to form an opinion about QC on them, the horrible web interface and xml based config file provisioning has made us feel more comfortable using the Snom and Aastra phones. Someone should come out with an XML config file generator for the Polycom phones. From using one here in the office, it’s a terrific speaker phone and has a ton of programming options.[/quote]

Thanks a ton agit8or. Can you give me more info on the Aastra’s? I haven’t done too much research on them yet, but you make them sound fairly promising! :smile:

Also, if I get an Aastra 9112i, which is a single line SIP phone… will I be able to use multiple “lines”? For example. Call comes in to a 9112i. You put them on hold and want to make another outgoing call, can you do that? Or would I need something like that 9133i? What’s the major benefits (in an asterisk environment) over the 9133i vs the 9112i?


#20

Well, I went with the Aastras. I got a few of the 9133i and a 480i CT. I’ll be setting these up after Christmas, so I’ll let you know how it goes. This’ll be the first time every playing with Aastrisk. I think I won’t have a ton of problems, and hopefully I can figure out the intercom system alright.

Thanks!