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dsl2u

join:2012-05-16
CANADA
Reviews:
·FreePhoneLine

Best type of IP phone for home users?

I just want to answer my VOIP account on something besides the computer because sometimes its being modified/changed so it may be off for several hours at a time. I just don't want to be chained to an always on computer.

I can buy an IP phone and plug it into my router or I can use a softphone on another computer. I was thinking a thin client because of all the other things you could have it do like torrents, home security, email/IM/faxing, etc. But for now I just want to know the advantages of an IP phone and I think a lot of other people are in the same fog as I am.

Are there differences in IP phones for the home and office like normal phones where the business phone looks more like an ethernet cable than a phone cable? Can I get an adapter so I could use a business phone in the home?

Some features I thought would be useful on an IP phone (probably many are already available in most models):
Voicemail/Fax/Email/Text Message/IM notification, Caller ID list with the ability to dial direct from it, multi lines with ringer on/off control for each, jacks for regular phone lines, linking with my computer so I can copy and paste data back and forth from each, headset connection so I don't have to deal with the handset when I answer the phone, good quality speakerphone with noise canceling mic (I wonder if any phones have the capability to plug in your own lapel mic?). I could go on....:)

The price range on Ebay is just enormous from a few bucks to hundreds.
I've heard some IP phones can be hacked very easily. Watched a video on Cisco and it looked not very good. I wonder if those holes have been plugged yet.


Viper359
Premium
join:2006-09-17
Scarborough, ON
Reviews:
·voip.ms

A normal IP phone is just like any normal phone when it comes to most things, but with the added functionality. As for hacking, yes, its possible, but its also possible with a regular POTS line.

If you have a IP phone it will have an Ethernet cable, it won't have a normal telephone line, unless it accepts both pots telephone service and voip service.

There are many entry grade Cisco phones that you can pick up for $50-$100, you plug in your voip info, and bang, you are all set-up.

The advantages, for me of an IP phone, are as follows, its a phone. It does everything a phone needs to do. Its my home phone for my entire family. No one, aside from me has any clue its anything other than a regular old telephone. To them, as far as they are concerned, its Bell Canada. It takes minutes to set-up with a voip provider, but adds much much more flexibility.

Sadly, too many people are scared off voip because they have heard some crock stories about 911 not working, or it won't work in a power failure etc.

Most of the things you list as features are possible, but that depends on your voip provider, and your personal technical experience. Based on your question, I would say is limited in this scope.

I would start of with just a cisco type phone, set it up, get it working, play with it, get to understand how they work etc, and increase your knowledge. You will quickly see why there is no turning back.



Trimline
Premium
join:2004-10-24
Windermere, FL
Reviews:
·ObiVoice
·Bright House
·Callcentric
·voip.ms
reply to dsl2u

I'd stick to an IP phone for your needs as described. Personally, I use the SNOM line, but I have a home office.

I've heard exceptional reviews on Yeaklink, although I've never used one - »www.amazon.com/Yealink-SIP-T22P-···yeaklink

The jacks for a "regular" phone line is going to be your issue. I don't know if that beast exists.

Maybe someone else will chime in.



crazyk4952
Premium
join:2002-02-04
united state
kudos:1

1 recommendation

reply to dsl2u

I'd take a look at the Gigaset C610A IP phone. I think it works pretty well as a residential IP phone.


mazilo
From Mazilo
Premium
join:2002-05-30
Lilburn, GA
kudos:4
reply to dsl2u

If I had to invest on WiFi-able VoIP phones, I would certainly go with any inexpensive Android smartphones.


Dan_voip

join:2007-01-03
Saint-Hubert, QC
kudos:4
Reviews:
·TekSavvy DSL

1 recommendation

reply to crazyk4952

said by crazyk4952:

I'd take a look at the Gigaset C610A IP phone. I think it works pretty well as a residential IP phone.

Has also the ability to connect to a POTS line.

zephxiii

join:2012-12-12
Fort Wayne, IN
reply to dsl2u

Definintely get an IP phone, they are very nice....nicer than just about any POTS phone i've ever seen. Shop around, there's a wide variety of different phones you can get. Polycom is a good brand as well.


zephxiii

join:2012-12-12
Fort Wayne, IN
reply to mazilo

"If I had to invest on WiFi-able VoIP phones, I would certainly go with any inexpensive Android smartphones."

Be wary of some Motorola phones. My Atrix 2 has terrible call quality problems with VoIP. I heard the same goes for a RAZR MAXX as well.

Also you'll have to make sure your wifi network is working tip top!


arth33

join:2008-06-04
K1X1M4
reply to dsl2u

One thing to bear in mind when buying an IP phone is that they need a power supply of some sort. A lot of them use PoE (power over ethernet) which needs to be supported by your router. If your router doesn't have PoE, then make sure to budget for a power supply (or get one that specifies that it's included).



rollerblader7

join:2004-01-11
Burlington, ON

1 recommendation

reply to dsl2u

One very nice feature of most VOIP phones that have multiple handsets is that they can handle multiple calls at once on the same "phone number". That's because there is no "phone line" that's tied up. For instance, if my wife is talking on the phone, and someone calls, the other phones in the house ring and answer them normally. Your service provider, phone and bandwidth need to support this, but it is fairly commonplace in the VOIP world.

This is conceptually opposite to the idea of picking up an extension phone to join into an existing call. If you want to be able to do that, your VOIP phones have to support "barge in". I use a Panasonic SIP phone with 3 DECT handsets, and it supports this.


GraysonPeddi
Grayson Peddie

join:2010-06-28
Tallahassee, FL
reply to arth33

If you have a 25' Ethernet cable, you have a lot of flexibility for moving around your room, provided you can deal with just a single wire plugged to your phone with no batteries to worry about, provided that you have a midspan injector like I have at home.


wintek
Premium
join:2011-02-07
Haughton, LA
reply to dsl2u

I see a forum regular has one for sale in the For Sale Forum. I would jump on that deal for a first IP phone.

»[FS] VoIP Equipment/Atom Server/SSD


zephxiii

join:2012-12-12
Fort Wayne, IN
reply to dsl2u

Good mention about the power supplies. In the case of the Polycom 501s i bought off ebay, the power supply comes in two parts:

The wall wart, and the Ethernet cable the wall wart injects power into.

I will mention that Ebay is a great source for phones as well. For my company we went with older Polycom Soundpoint 501s for about 60 bucks each shipped from a seller that refurbishes them (or collects them, cleans them and makes sure they work). It was a good find for us!

The other thing to look for that might be handy and not sure if it was already mentioned: Some phones have a builtin switch where you can plug in a PC or whatever else into the back of the phone. Some phones do not have a builtin switch. Having a builtin switch if you have to plug in a second device into the LAN but don't want to run a separate switch in that location.


dsl2u

join:2012-05-16
CANADA
Reviews:
·FreePhoneLine

How many phones can show up on your computer so you can copy and paste to their data bases? And is it possible to see a phone number on a website, copy it, and paste it into the phone and the phone starts dialing? All this without touching the phone?

And why is there such an enormous difference in prices? I can see you pay more for a bigger screen but that doesn't explain differences of $500 or more in a phone.

Then you can look at setting up a softphone on a thin client so its always on. No wonder IP phones haven't caught on in the general population. They're so complicated!


zephxiii

join:2012-12-12
Fort Wayne, IN

1 edit

Configuring them could be complicated but once it is a phone, it is pretty easy to use.

Difference in prices:
Well there can be a number of differences in features.

One of the differences is how many lines and line buttons a phone supports. Lines are extensions or phone numbers (tied to different SIP accounts) that the phone would be able to register and handle at the same time. Or say if you only needed one SIP account, a 3 line capable phone with 3 line buttons would allow you to more easily manage (as in user interface) multiple calls than say a phone with only one line and or line button.

A larger screen is very useful for being able to display more information and help with navigating the phones menus/features/lists easier. Then you have color screens that are nicer which would be better for say if you have interactive apps or something, or its just nicer to use in general.

Then theres phones that have a color screen because they have a builtin camera as they are video capable phones. You also have phones that have more buttons on them that allows you to do things easier. Phones with builtin switches, or gigabit capable switches. Then theres build quality of phones, what kind of codecs they support, protocols, quality of the components and software. Newer and nicer phones probably have more processing power and a better web interface to configure it.

I mean theres a number of different features phones can/cant have.

The two phones I looked at were a Polycom Soundpoint 330 and a Soundpoint 501.

The 330 was newer but a lower model. It had a way smaller and lower resolution screen, and only supported 2 lines. It also didnt have any many buttons. Its a great phone but the 501 has a larger better screen that displays more information at a given time, it also has more buttons like Do not disturb, Messages, Directory, "Conference", "Transfer", "Call Lists", 4 screen soft buttons, 3 line buttons, and some others that generally make the phone much much easier and nicer to use.

The 330 does not have Directories, Transfer, Conference, Redial, Messages, Call Lists buttons, and only 3 screen soft buttons (compared to 4 on the 501) for a pretty small screen. The 330 is just nowhere near as nice to use in comparison. It is a good phone though, but i am glad we went with something a little nicer.

So it really boils down to what you want and what you would be happy with. I like the stuff in the midrange area, not the high end stuff, but not low end/basic stuff.


SCADAGeo

join:2012-11-08
N California
kudos:2
reply to zephxiii

said by zephxiii:

"If I had to invest on WiFi-able VoIP phones, I would certainly go with any inexpensive Android smartphones."

Be wary of some Motorola phones. My Atrix 2 has terrible call quality problems with VoIP. I heard the same goes for a RAZR MAXX as well.

Also you'll have to make sure your wifi network is working tip top!

The "expert" settings in CSipSimple may be of interest.

Once the "expert" setting is enabled, Settings -> Media will show more options.

Under "Audio quality" there are settings for "Echo cancellation" and "Echo mode (algorithm for echo)". Echo mode algorithms include "Auto", "Speex", "Simple", and "WebRTC".

Under "Misc", options include "Use WebRTC implementation", "Use routing API", "Use Mode audio API", "Focus Audio", "Micro source", "Audio mode for SIP calls".

dsl2u

join:2012-05-16
CANADA
Reviews:
·FreePhoneLine
reply to zephxiii

> One of the differences is how many lines and line buttons a phone supports.

Yes, I've noticed that correlation. Is it possible to have multi lines on a softphone program? I've never noticed but wasn't looking for that before. With several companies offering free numbers this would be a good feature to have.

One could also use three single line phones. When I used a multiline PSTN phone I hated not being able to monitor calls when they were on hold because they would have to be on hold. On single line phones you can put them on Speaker and mute the mic.

Do any phones accept email or text messages I wonder? That would be sweet.

And is there a logical reason why a IP phone should have better audio quality than a softphone if you have a decent soundcard in your computer and are not using a low latency USB mics for example?


zephxiii

join:2012-12-12
Fort Wayne, IN

Yes it is totally possible to have multiple lines on a softphone....a lot of them have that capability.

Three single line phones isn't going to be as cheap as a single multi-line phone....but it's not a bad way to go either except that usually the single line phones aren't as nice as the multiline phones. That depends on what you shop though, you could find nice but older multiline phones for cheap.

I've read about there being some kind of IM support with SIP....haven't looked into it that much. You can start with looking into SIMPLE.

The sound quality is going to be in the mic/earpiece. There's also DSP that might be unique to hardphones.

To be honest though if you are going to do a lot of calling, or use it regularly, a hard phone is much nicer to use and less of a hassle than trying to interact with software on a computer then having a mic/earpiece strapped to the computer from a user standpoint.

A hardphone is one central spot of hardware/software/user interface that is specifically designed for telephony. Having used both for testing and regular use, i'd take a hardphone over a softphone any day.


dsl2u

join:2012-05-16
CANADA
Reviews:
·FreePhoneLine
reply to dsl2u

And what about latency? This has got to be one of the biggest headaches as often the VOIP user doesn't realize it because they are not hearing themselves at the other end. Skype has an echo tester (I presume that's encompassing latency) and I found that when I tested a cheap USB mic compared to a cheap analogue mic plugged into my audio input on my relatively modern motherboard (LGA775) the analogue mic had far less delay. But there still was a delay. I wonder if the Skype test is a good test for latency or if there are better ones? The advantage of a softphone would be that you can choose your mic. I thought it ideal that a highly directional mic would be best and something that only picks up audio close to it. I experimented with a lapel mic but I'm constantly getting tangled in the wire and often forget its attached when I walk away. Perhaps a mic that pops up near the keyboard but you don't want to pick up the clicking noise from the keyboard. A mic that you can quickly place over your ear is probably the best solution for something really close to your mouth. I used to use this
»www.headsetdepot.com/usrimage/0h41.jpg
for hours a day on a traditional phone system years ago and it was a fantastic design though the mic left something to be desired as it was just a hollow tube pickup. But I could place it over my ear in a heartbeat. Definitely better than clipping something on to your shirt. Some mics have switchable pickup patterns which could be useful. Holding a handset to your head just sucks which is why secretaries use headsets. Depends on how long you're on the phone each day. But with automated phone systems placing us on hold more and more something that allows one to switch between a speakerphone and headset is more and more important. Or just use a speaker at low volume with your mic of choice. When you're on hold and you don't want to be trapped to your desk you could switch the pickup pattern to wide.


zephxiii

join:2012-12-12
Fort Wayne, IN

Latency depends on your connection, who your provider is and the route to their server. I've made calls with my VoIP provider to a landline phone where the route was out to NYC from Indiana and back to the landline and latency was excellent.

I'm not surprised you saw additional latency with the USB mic, this could vary between USB MICs.

That's what's nice about a hardphone because all of this is already dialed in, dialed in to be an excellent phone. Also both of my hardphones have a button that let you switch between speaker phone and the headset, super easy and fast.

Also it is ideal to use a wired connection instead of wifi as you are way more likely to drop packets over wifi.


Viper359
Premium
join:2006-09-17
Scarborough, ON
Reviews:
·voip.ms
reply to dsl2u

I agree, a hard phone over a soft phone for me any day. Once the hard phone is setup, you can pretty much forget about it. I also agree with wired over wireless, as consumer grade routers are garbage.

My problem with soft phones are computer resources. If for whatever reason, the resources of a PC go through the roof, you call starts having problems. Might not be an issue with current PC's, and people who set up their PC's properly, but I am sure we have all had that point where all the sudden the CPU is near 100% load, and your memory usage is climbing..... Yes, I clearly use windows! :P

For me, jitter is more important that latency when it comes to servers. I have family who almost always are 300 to 400MS to their server with no issues, call sounds as if it was landline.


dsl2u

join:2012-05-16
CANADA
Reviews:
·FreePhoneLine

> as consumer grade routers are garbage.

But aren't those used in almost all home VOIP situations? Or do some phones have a router built in and you plug our computer into the phone instead of the router?

I'm going to read about jitter. I really want this to work.


OZO
Premium
join:2003-01-17
kudos:2

1 edit
reply to Viper359

said by Viper359:

For me, jitter is more important that latency when it comes to servers.

And the way to mitigate jitter is to increase the latency... and it's usually done automatically. You may not notice that, until you start getting calls from cell phones, which add a lot of their own latency to the equation. Then you may start talking at the same time as the other party on cell phone does. It's not a pleasant experience, I may say, and can easy break the whole conversation...
--
Keep it simple, it'll become complex by itself...

Viper359
Premium
join:2006-09-17
Scarborough, ON
Reviews:
·voip.ms
reply to dsl2u

You are correct, a lot of people use them in the home situation. The more settings and options in the $50.00 router range, the more they seem to not work as needed, from my experience anyways. Most IP hard phones are very easy to setup, depending what you buy, some voip providers have step by step guides. If you have a household that doesn't upload often, and you have a very high download ability, QOS isn't even needed.

That is my house, because I have Rogers 75/2, I don't use any QOS anymore, because I noticed almost no one really uploaded anything that ever saturated the upload available speed for more than a few seconds. While I am only 75 down, it frequently bursts for extended periods to around 150 down. So, anyone downloading has not caused any network congestion. Since voip uses almost no bandwidth, it has worked just fine for my specific situation. That is the big thing, each households situation is different in what they are doing with each internet connection.


dsl2u

join:2012-05-16
CANADA
Reviews:
·FreePhoneLine
reply to dsl2u

I just noticed that there are NBX or business IP phones available. Is there a difference between that and something I'd just plug into my generic router at home? In the POTS world a PBX or business phone has a jack that is a different shape (larger like an ethernet jack) than a home type jack. Wondering if the same applies with NBX.


zephxiii

join:2012-12-12
Fort Wayne, IN

Please list the models you are referring to.


dsl2u

join:2012-05-16
CANADA
reply to dsl2u

NBX phones: »www.mtmnet.com/3Com_NBX.htm

Are these any different from typical IP phones?


zephxiii

join:2012-12-12
Fort Wayne, IN

said by dsl2u:

NBX phones: »www.mtmnet.com/3Com_NBX.htm

Are these any different from typical IP phones?

All that is is 3Com's own phone system that uses their own protocol (NBX) but their phones are also SIP capable.

Personally i wouldn't use them and would rather stick with Polycom, Cisco, Yealink, Digium and some others.

dsl2u

join:2012-05-16
CANADA

Why would you steer away from 3com's models? They often go very cheap used these days. Are people needing more advanced features lacking in these older models?


zephxiii

join:2012-12-12
Fort Wayne, IN

They look cheap. I'd rather have a Polycom Soundpoint 501 for 65 bucks. I may buy a 3com to play with though.