Ok… So, I have a very generous boss when it comes to getting different types of phones to try. (He’s an ebay junkie.)
I also have a friend with a good VOIP budget so, between the two sources, I’ve managed to setup and sample:
Sipura-841 (both a 2 and a 4 line version)
I’ve also played with both X-Lite and SJphone softphones.
First of all, none of the phones were perfect. Each had something I would have changed or fixed. Each had something I like very much too. So here goes.
The Cisco and Polycom phones were my favorites for sound (especially the speakerphone) but they take forever to boot up. They were both messy to setup, but after they were setup they worked just fine. They had very good options such as line by line auto answer on the Cisco, and standard business headset support on the Polycom. But I wish the SIP setup was easier. I’d hate to have to deploy a whole lot of them.
The Sipura-841’s were very nice if all you want is a good phone. It has an ok speakerphone. The display would benefit from a backlight, but they boot quickly and have a very good web interface. They do have a tiny, hard to notice message waiting lamp, and I’d also add power over ethernet. They do have the WORST handset cords. If you buy one of those, buy a handset cord too. In my opinion, it would make an excellent wall phone. Mounted at eye level, the display shortcomings wouldn’t be much of a problem. (Downside, it would have to be near a power outlet.) You can easily add ringtones too. 2 or 4 line doesn’t seem to matter much, however, the 4 line phone has to blank the screen (hiding the line appearance status) when there are messages like “Missed calls” to display.
I’m liking the Grandstream 2000 very much now that they’ve fixed the speakerphone. It has a good web interface, and a nice big easy to read display with a backlight that can even be set to stay on constantly. It’s not easily wall mountable, no matter what the ad’s say, but it could be wall mounted if you wanted to. (you’d need an inclined shelf.) I’d keep it on a desk though. It would make a great bedroom or guest room phone in a hotel. The nice backlit display has a big easy to read clock. The message waiting indicator is big, bright, flashes nicely, and would be very hard to ignore.
The Snom 200 was my least favorite. The overall engineering was poor. The hookswitch was problematic, the display was clunky, and the buttons stuck frequently. I hated the ringtones, but those could be changed easily. Happily, they’re manufacturer discontinued. On the positive side, the web interface was detailed and easy to understand, and they boot very quickly. Handset sound is good and clear. Still, I think there are far better choices for the money.
It doesn’t matter which softphone you use. They’re both good. However, the free versions do have some differences. The X-lite phone has no message waiting indicator, which the SJ phone has. It also has some functions disabled. (Conference and transfer come to mind.) I like the look and feel of the xlite over the sjphone, but the sjphone has more active features. In both cases though, using softphone software introduces considerable delay. If you don’t like delay, use a real phone. Use the softphone to check voicemail from the coffee shop with the free Wi-Fi service.
That’s my 2 cents. Feel free to ask me any specific questions.