[asterisk-users] Which SIP phones to buy?

Robert Greene rgreene at neopolitan.com
Thu Apr 12 09:39:34 MST 2007

Drew Gibson wrote:
> Stephen Bosch wrote:
> > Stephen Bosch wrote:
> >   
> >> I need to buy some new phones for our own offices.
> >>
> >> I've used only Polycom phones until now, but I'd like to broaden my
> >> experience.
> >>
> >> I'm trying to decide which phones to experiment with. I have these options:
> >>
> >> - A combination of Polycom, Aastra and Snom
> >>
> >> - Just Polycom
> >>
> >> One the one hand, I'd like to keep things uniform, since it greatly
> >> simplifies provisioning. On the other hand, I don't want to broaden my
> >> knowledge...
> >>     
> >
> > ...because I like to stay dumb.
> >
> > Of course, that's not what I meant :)
> >
> >   
> We have Cisco, Aastra 480i and Grandstream GXP2000 phones in house.
> I only recommend the Cisco phones to people I don't like, overpriced and 
> far too much work.
> The Aastra 480i is a good quality phone, on par with Cisco and probably 
> with Polycom (though I've never used them). Voice quality is good, phone 
> feels robust. Config is well documented and contained in two text files 
> (one global, one MAC specific). Good web interface on the phone. Aastra 
> support have been very responsive.
> Grandstream phones are lower quality but good value for money. Sound and 
> feel of phones is not so good as Aastra or Cisco. Configuration is 
> through a binary file, a bit fiddly, but quite manageable with a few 
> scripts. Good web interface on the phone. Grandstream support have also 
> been very responsive.
> regards,
> Drew
> -- 
> Drew Gibson
> Systems Administrator
> OANDA Corporation
> www.oanda.com

I have Cisco 7960G, Polycom SP 501, Aastra 480i, Grandstream GXP2000 and
Budgetone 200 desk phones in my test lab.  Overall, I like the Cisco
best.  I even bought one for home use.  Configuration was no more
difficult than any other.

The Cisco, Aastra and Polycom have similar voice quality.  They're all
very good handsets and speakerphones.  Of these three, the Aastra is the
only backlit display, but it is hard to read from an angle and the
backlight is not very effective.  Aastra is also very vulnerable to
glare.  The Cisco and Polycom are easier to read unless you are in a
darkened room.  The Grandstream GXP2000 and Budgetone 200 have nice,
bright and easy to read displays, but the phone aesthetics are not up to
par with the others.

For daily use, the Cisco and Polycom buttons are smoothest.  The Aastra
is close, but not as comfortable to use.  It seems that round buttons
function better.  The Grandstream buttons are just heavy and cumbersome.

The Polycom is the biggest pain in the ass to initially configure
because of the extended boot time.  All other brands I've used boot
within a minute and are ready to use.  The Polycom takes around 4 and if
you are using the web interface for initial configuration, you need to
reboot frequently.  Once you've worked out your configuration, new phone
installs are pretty simple with any brand.

The Aastra and Grandstream web interfaces are easy to use and you may
make multiple changes and then reboot when you're done.  The Cisco has
no web interface.

For routine provisioning, Cisco only supports tftp and telnet.  The
Polycom supports tftp, ftp, sftp, http and https.  The Aastra supports
tftp, ftp & http.

Placing a logo on the Cisco display is trivial.  I have not been
successful with any other brand so far.

For PoE use, the Polycom and Aastra use 802.3af.  Up to the 7970, Cisco
used a proprietary PoE pin configuration and require a special cable to
use with a standards compliant PoE switch.  The cable is easy to make,
but you have to ensure that users are aware of the difference.

As for price, Drew is right about the high cost of Cisco.  If I hadn't
found one on eBay, my personal phone would likely be Aastra.

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