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IP Phones & VoIP Phones

Modern IP phones offer phenomenal Voice over IP (VoIP) quality. Many models offers additional features including built-in cameras for video, SIP and Microsoft Lync interoperability, Power over Ethernet (PoE), and even Android operating systems and touchscreen interfaces.

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Which VoIP Phone Should I Choose?

A place called “IP Phone Warehouse” might sound biased in saying this… but IP phones are the number one choice for business telephony. IP phones, also called VoIP phones, use Internet protocol technology to connect to other endpoints. It’s an entirely different technology than analog and digital phones.

IP phones have a few misconceptions attached to them, most of which derive from what people think about when they imagine a phone. An analog cord connects an analog phone to an analog wall outlet (notice we’re talking “analog” here). The cord powers the phone and provides a connection to either the carrier or a phone exchange. VoIP phones are a tad different than this old fashioned system.

An Ethernet cable is required to connect a VoIP phone. By using an Ethernet or IP-based connection, VoIP phones can provide many, many more features and month-over-month savings. They can utilize the existing Ethernet infrastructure running through your building. Ethernet is also much simpler to maintain than copper analog wiring.

The IP phone cannot simply connect to the Internet and start working—for example, plugging the Ethernet cable into a network switch or the wall and crossing your fingers. A service or phone system is required.

There are many options available to VoIP phones and phone systems. This is where shopping for an IP phone can get fun. Everything from the phone’s operating system to the number of line appearances available can affect your productivity and return on investment.

Line Appearances

Line appearances give your VoIP phone flexibility. The more line appearances that your phone has, the more incoming calls you can keep on hold at one time. For example, keeping calls on hold to transfer to a conference or to answer when you have the time.

Phones that support many line appearances are ideal for power users like receptionists and executives.

Some phones will offer LED buttons that correspond to the number of line appearances that are offered by the phone. An IP phone with eight line appearances might have eight LED keys, providing a convenient way to access extensions, speed dial numbers and incoming callers.

Switch Ports

A typical IP phone has either one or two Ethernet ports behind it. The ports connect it to the switch or another network device. Having dual Ethernet ports enables the phone to connect to the network and a nearby computer at the same time. The computer and phone can share the connection.

A single Ethernet port provides security. When the phone is set up in a common area like a waiting room or hallway, there is no second Ethernet port available for someone to plug in laptop and potentially hack into the network.

Ethernet ports are available in either 10/100 or 10/100/1000 (gigabit-Ethernet) connectivity. Gigabit-Ethernet is more common in video phones or devices that process more bandwidth-intensive multimedia.

Power Options (PoE or AC)

Power supply options for VoIP phones in North America include PoE and AC. Phones with PoE-enabled switch ports can be powered by a PoE-ready network switch or a PoE injector. PoE is an acronym for “Power over Ethernet,” meaning that both power and data are transferred to the phone from a single Ethernet cable.

A number of phones that support PoE are not packaged with an AC adapter. Please keep that in mind when shopping for IP phones. Non-PoE phones utilize an AC power supply coming from a nearby wall plug. Power supplies vary by region—AC is the North American standard.

Protocol

The basic principal behind how human speech works is that we need to use the same language in order to understand each other (excluding verbal cues and other clues). Technology like IP phones works similarly.

When VoIP was first introduced, the languages and protocols used by the phones were largely proprietary. Manufacturers were developing their own solutions with unique languages and protocols, largely interoperable with other manufacturers.

Today, the industry is pushing towards making IP technology easier to install and operate, which is incredibly helpful to small businesses that want to deploy VoIP. SIP is becoming an industry-standard protocol for VoIP telephony.

A protocol defines how the phone defines and reads signals it sends and receives. Phones, video conferencing equipment and more types of devices are readily supporting the SIP protocol. Another protocol to be aware of is Cisco’s SCCP protocol. VoIP phones built for Microsoft Lync are also available.

One consideration: make sure your phone system and phone endpoint share the same protocol. Otherwise they won’t be able to communicate.

Expansion Options

Expanding a VoIP phone is critical for receptionists and power users. Expansion modules can give a phone more LED keys to view live extension statuses, busy lamp fields, speed dial numbers and more. Quickly connect callers to the right extension or dial out to important contacts.

Expansion modules are available with paper inlays that are used for labeling purposes. LCD expansion modules are inlayed with a miniature display instead of a paper label. An LCD display is more flexible than a paper inlay, letting the module perform functions like show more than one set of labels. LCD modules with a “page” key can switch between different sets of labels, letting one module do the work of two or more.

Additional Ports & Connections

Headset ports, USB ports, DECT radio, WiFi radio, Bluetooth… some phones come with a lot of options for connecting peripherals or accessing the network. If you have existing equipment like headsets, make sure they’re compatible with the desired phone.

DECT is a common technology used with wireless phones. It is highly secure, and provides a great distance between the handset and the base station. A few wireless phones also use WiFi, letting the handsets signal with existing compatible access points that are already situated throughout the building’s infrastructure. Desktop phones might also feature WiFi, but it is more prevalent in high-end models.

More to Consider

Speakerphone

A VoIP phone with a loudspeaker and microphone, or speakerphone, is well suited for conferencing. Multiple participants can sit around the phone and share the speakerphone capabilities. Not all speakerphones are built the same. Some offer dual microphones, full duplex technology, noise cancellation, echo cancellation, wideband audio and more.

Buttons

Seems fairly simple, right? An IP phone without any buttons is less of a phone and more of a bludgeoning device. There are different button types that can become very effectual towards the productivity of the phone.

Programmable keys provide quick access to user-specified applications and phone functions. Fixed keys on the phone are usually dedicated to supported functions like switching between the handset and a connected headset, call hold, volume and more. Context-sensitive keys mounted around the display change function as the user accesses new menus.

Display

Speaking of the display… for some VoIP phones, a display is only necessary to show caller information. Higher-end IP phones might have touchscreen displays capable of streaming media and interacting with complex applications. More moderate-level displays can scroll though messages, emails and give detailed descriptions.

The size of the screen and its capabilities are important to consider.

Advanced Features

Calling these features “advanced” doesn’t mean that they’re not affordable. It only means that they aren’t standard. For those that are seeking these features, they will provide an incredible level of productivity. These features include (some mentioned already):

  • Android operating system
  • Embedded camera
  • Bluetooth interface
  • Expansion modules
  • Downloadable applications
  • EHS headset support

Why VoIP?

An analog phone sure won’t support all of the features listed. VoIP is where carriers, manufacturers and IT personnel are focusing their efforts towards advancing telephony. Analog and digital telephony are at the end of their respective ropes.

The cost of maintaining the infrastructure is minimal, which is translated into monthly telephone bill savings for the business.

Top Reasons for VoIP

  • Return on investment
  • Low monthly bills
  • Powerful features and applications
  • HD/wideband audio
  • Voice, video and UC services

Finding a VoIP Phone

Hopefully this piece answered some of your questions about what IP or VoIP phone to purchase. They offer a more expansion range of features than analog and digital phones. The return on investment is much more immediate, both in terms of productivity and monthly telephone service bills.

For additional assistance, contact IP Phone Warehouse’s free pre-sales tech support. Customer service agents are standing by via phone, email or Contact usLive Chat during regular business hours.

For help finding an IP PBX or VoIP service, contact IP Phone Warehouse. We can help you shop for the appropriate Phone System, SIP trunking service or VoIP provider.

Bottom line: if you still are not sure about what phone, phone system or service you need, Contact IP Phone Warehouse.

IP phones are designed for business. They are ready for home offices, small businesses, large businesses and enterprises. IP Phone Warehouse is stocked with phones from industry-leading manufacturers including Aastra, Avaya, Cisco, Digium, Grandstream, Polycom, Snom, Spectralink and Yealink.

Featured Brands

Aastra – Recently acquired by Mitel. Commonly deployed with open source phone systems including Asterisk and Trixbox. These VoIP phones hail from Canada.

Avaya – Ready for the feature-rich Avaya IP Office phone system. Designed to boost productivity through a range of features.

Cisco – Cisco SPA and 7900 series IP phones are popular devices for single desktops or enterprise-wide deployments. The SPA series phones are known for being easy to provision and use.

Digium – Optimized for Digium’s own Asterisk and Switchvox solutions. Digium was a pioneer of open source telephony. Digium phones can access Asterisk-specific features.

Grandstream – Cost-effective VoIP and video phones for small businesses, with enterprise-grade features like Android, built-in cameras, WiFi and Bluetooth to support busy executives and managers.

Polycom – IP phones from Polycom feature high-end conferencing hardware. Most models are optimized for Microsoft Lync.

Snom – Incredibly durable line of VoIP phones. Well known for WiFi phones and offering features like USB sticks for call recording.

Spectralink – Builds wireless solutions for healthcare and enterprise environments. Handsets with safety features like “man-down” are ready for manufacturing and warehousing industries.

Yealink – Affordable VoIP phones built through intensive research and development. Models available include large touchscreen displays and easy to access navigation.

What is the Best VoIP Phone?

With so many VoIP phones to choose from, where do you start? We’ve picked ten of our customers’ favorite phones for you to check out first. These phones offer a great return on investment, state-of-the-art technology and better overall value.

Polycom VVX 500

Balance your busy schedule with the Polycom VVX 500 phone. Connect a camera, expansion modules, USB devices and a number of other peripherals. Technology like HD Voice and the built-in 3.5” touchscreen display support crystal-clear calling and video conferencing. Maximize efficiency and productivity with this phone that’s made for multitasking. Learn More

Polycom VVX 300

Polycom HD Voice and Acoustic Clarity technology bring superior sound and audio quality to your desktop. The VVX 300 also features six line appearances and dual Ethernet switch ports, and is compatible with a number of productivity applications and IP standards. Learn More

Yealink SIP-T48G

A 7” touchscreen display gives the Yealink SIP-T48G an edge over similar VoIP phones. Use this desktop device like a smartphone or tablet. Optima HD technology improves call quality through the handset or speakerphone, or a Bluetooth headset connected through the phone’s USB port. Learn More

Yealink SIP-T42G

The Yealink SIP-T42G is simply to install and provision from a remote location. Set up any workspace with gigabit Ethernet-based telephony. Yealink Optima HD technology gives the phone incredible voice quality. Learn More

Grandstream GXP2140

Ready for everything. The Grandstream GXP2140 phone has embedded Bluetooth, a built-in USB port, dual gigabit Ethernet ports and a 4.3” color LCD display. Extend the phone’s capabilities through LCD expansion modules, giving access to up to 160 stored contacts or busy lamp fields. Learn More

Grandstream GXV3275

Thought Android was only for smartphones and tablets? The Grandstream GXV3275 features a 7” touchscreen to take full advantage of its Android 4.2 operating system. Access Google Play to download applications for conferencing, entertainment or just to check the weather. Interfaces on the phone include a built-in CMOS camera, HDMI port, embedded Bluetooth 4.0 + EDR and even a WiFi radio. Learn More

Yealink SIP-T28P

Sixteen programmable keys—ten along the side of the Yealink SIP-T28P console and six near the display—support busy lamp fields, bridged line appearances and LED indicators. More features include wideband audio, PoE and support for up to six expansion modules. Learn More

Digium D51

Keep track of your important contacts with the Digium D51 phone, including ten programmable LEDs for speed dialing or busy lamp fields. This phone is an affordable, high-tech VoIP endpoint for Asterisk and Switchvox environments. Learn More

Polycom VVX 400

A total of 12 line appearances are available on the Polycom VVX 400 phone. Set up the phone with expansion modules, perfect for executives or receptionists. This phone is designed to improve the productivity of your office’s busiest employees. Learn More

Grandstream GXP2130

Highlighting the Grandstream GXP2130 phone’s interface are four context-sensitive keys, eight dual-color programmable keys for busy lamp fields, and a 2.8” color display. This phone is the perfect choice for small- to medium-sized businesses and home offices. Learn More

What is the Best Wireless VoIP Phone?

Cordless telephony is essential for workers that are frequently away from their desk or need to stay mobile across a large work environment. Here are a few of our customers’ favorite wireless phones for VoIP, including DECT and WiFi handsets.

Snom M9R

The Snom M9R’s base station supports a total of nine DECT handsets and four concurrent calls. Scale and expand the base station to accommodate your entire workforce, with DECT repeaters available for extending the wireless range. The handsets offer an intuitive user interface, long battery life and wideband audio. Learn More

Grandstream DP715

Up to five handsets are supported by the Grandstream DP715 base station, including the Grandstream DP710 handsets. The compact form factor of these handsets makes them easy to transport across the office. A rich feature-set enables these affordable phones to offer high-end VoIP telephony without a high price tag. Learn More

Cisco 7925G

Ready to rumble, the Cisco 7925G phone is protected by a military-grade and IP54-rated casing. This WiFi handset is resistant to shocks, dust, water and other elements. Multi-phone chargers let employees quickly grab a handset and go. Combine the handsets with wireless headsets compatible with Bluetooth v2.0 technology for a truly mobile, hands-free experience. Learn More

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