May 11, 2009
Business Media Phones � What's New?
By Sandra M. Gustavsen, Analyst, T3i Group LLC
At the recent VoiceCon Orlando 2009 event, leading communications vendors showcased their newest software, systems, devices and applications for the business communications market. A number of vendors, including Avaya, Grandstream, Mitel (News - Alert), Nortel, Polycom and TANDBERG, to name a few, debuted new multimedia phones that integrate a telephone with video and/or Internet content and even access to popular social media applications.
With so many of these new devices on display, it seems that this new market is poised to take off. And, it’s not just the business communications market. Service providers, too, are rolling out media phones, but to the consumer market. The Verizon Hub, a new touch screen home phone, promises to replace traditional home phones with a “home communications system” that runs over broadband to enable video and text messaging, send calendar reminders, provide access to traffic reports and much more.
Some analysts are predicting that the media phone market, for both businesses and consumers, will soar over the next few years; however, others (Microsoft among them) are touting the end of the desk telephone altogether, since soft phones and unified communications clients are already providing more advanced, multimedia functionality via an existing PC or even over a mobile device.
T3i Group analysts agree. The benefits to the consumer market are more obvious; however, in today’s business environment where every desk is equipped with a PC, the need for a media phone is less clear. As leading communications vendors are introducing these new media phones, they are simultaneously developing and marketing unified communications clients that encapsulate all communications — telephony, presence and contact management, Instant Messaging, e-mail and voice mail, video and much more, right from an existing desktop PC.
Analysts will continue to assess the media phone market as it unfolds over the next few years. Meanwhile, leading business communications vendors have already begun to introduce their new offers. Below are highlights of some of the latest market entries. Though functionality and pricing varies widely, all of the new business media phones add value to the traditional telephone with large, color displays and support for some level of multimedia communications such as video and/or easy access to contacts, Internet-based information and applications.
Avaya 9670G Media Phone Blends Phone and PC
Avaya unveils a new multimedia telephone for individuals who use the phone heavily and who require easy access to features and functions. The Avaya one-X 9670G Deskphone (pictured right) is referred to as a media phone since it blends telephone and PC functionality. Avaya explains that the phone is similar in concept to popular mobile devices in that it features a large color display screen (6.5-inch) with one-touch access to information. The phone is equipped with wideband audio, Gigabit Ethernet connectivity and Bluetooth compatibility and supports speech recognition for ‘dialing’ up to 250 contacts. And, embedded applications can be accessed when the phone is idle, such as a full QWERTY keyboard, weather information and a calculator; other applications can be downloaded.
Availability/Compatibility: The Avaya one-X 9670G is available in May 2009 and works with Avaya Communication Manager 3.1 or higher systems.
Grandstream GXV3140 IP Multimedia Phone Enables Video Calls
Designed to offer the end user a multimedia experience, the Grandstream GXV3140 IP Multimedia Phone (pictured left) combines a full duplex speakerphone with IP video conferencing and support for today’s popular social multimedia applications. GXV3140 includes a 4.3-inch digital color display, as well as a 1.3M (News - Alert) pixel CMOS camera (adjustable) for video calls. An HTML Web browser enables Instant Messaging using Yahoo, MSN or Google and one-touch access to music, radio and photo websites (such as Last.fm and Yahoo Flickr web photo album) and personalized RSS feeds (news, weather, stocks, etc.). The phone also supports nine languages (English, Spanish, Chinese, Japanese, Korean, French, German, Italian and Portuguese).
Availability/Compatibility: The GXV3140 IP Multimedia Phone ($299) is available in May 2009 through Grandstream’s channel partners and works with any RFC3261 SIP-based IP-PBX. The GXV3140 is an upgrade of Grandstream’s earlier GXV3000 (2006) and GXV3005 (2008) multimedia phones.
LG-Nortel Debuts IP 8800 Series Phones
A new line of desktop phones from LG-Nortel, the 8800 IP Phone Series (pictured right), supports both SIP and MGCP protocols in order to interoperate with a range of VoIP servers, including those from Nortel, but also managed and hosted platforms from service providers worldwide. Five models address varying user needs, including the forthcoming LG-Nortel IP8850 Executive IP Phone (pictured) with a camera module for video and a large, color display (4.3-inch), wideband audio, a Wi-Fi interface and Bluetooth support for mobility needs.
Additional models include the entry-level LG-Nortel IP Phone 8815 (due out third quarter 2009), the LG-Nortel IP Phone 8820 for standard users, the LG-Nortel IP Phone 8830 for attendants and office managers and a higher end IP Phone 8840 which has a large, adjustable display (240x144 pixels) and supports two LCD expansion modules. Bluetooth and WiFi (News - Alert) modules are available for the advanced models, so that users can manage calls anywhere in the office.
Availability/Compatibility: The LG-Nortel IP Phone 8800 Series (models 8820, 8830, 8840) are currently available; IP 8815 is due out in third quarter 2009, while the release date for the IP 8850 has not been determined. The 8800 Series is compatible with Nortel’s CS2000 and the Nortel Adaptive Application Engine (a software based SIP application server solution). The LG-Nortel IP Phone 8800 Series offers a forward-looking alternative to the earlier LG-Nortel 6800 series. www.lg-nortel.com
Mitel Debuts 5360 IP Phone with Color, Touch-Screen
Mitel will expand its 5300 IP Phone portfolio later this year with the forthcoming Mitel 5360 IP Phone (pictured left), a full featured color phone with a 7-inch touch display used to access embedded or Internet content and applications, and a gadget sidebar to quickly launch applications. The new model is similar to the earlier Mitel 5340 IP Phone, but offers the color and touch elements. Notable features include embedded dual Gigabit ports, programmable self-labeling functions, wideband audio and an HTML toolkit for application development.
Availability/Compatibility: The Mitel 5360 IP Phone ($649) is due out third quarter 2009 and will work with the Mitel 3300 ICP enterprise platform.
Polycom’s first business media phone, the VVX 1500 (pictured right), combines a personal video conferencing system with a VoIP telephone. The new phone is similar to the Polycom SoundPoint IP desktop phone with support for six lines, Polycom HD Voice and a Gigabit Ethernet switch. Telephony features and functions can be accessed via the buttons on the front of the phone or via the 7-inch color touch-screen. Polycom VVX 1500 also includes an integrated camera (adjustable) for one-touch video calling.
Additional advanced functionality includes an open API and microbrowser for third-party application developers to integrate business applications, and the Polycom Productivity Suite (bundled) enables users to initiate and control audio conference calls via the touch-screen or to record audio calls locally using a flash drive in the phone’s USB port. My Info Portal is a Web service that lets users select Web content such as local weather reports to view on the screen. And, the phone has smart motion technology that detects when no one is in the office and puts the phone into power saving mode.
Availability/Compatibility: The Polycom VVX 1500 Business Media Phone ($1,099) is now available. Like Polycom's SoundPoint IP and SoundStation IP desktop and conference phones, the VVX 1500 is based on SIP and can communicate with any SIP-based IP PBX or hosted call server. Currently, the new phone is undergoing SIP video certification by Polycom partners, including BroadSoft, Deltapath, NEC Sphere, Objectworld (News - Alert), Zultys and many others.
TANDBERG Ships New E20 Video IP Phone
TANDBERG enters a new market with its E20 Video IP phone (pictured left), which functions as a standard office phone, but also provides DVD-quality video for both an audio and a visual communications experience. Popular telephone features are available such as call transfer, message waiting, call forwarding, plus quick keys for access to IP phone and video services. E20 has 10.6 inch LCD widescreen, with a five-mega pixel high resolution camera positioned at eye-level; the user can switch to audio only if needed.
Availability/Compatibility: TANDBERG’s E20 ($1,490) is currently available globally in all regions. As a SIP-based device, E20 is designed to function with either a SIP-based IP PBX or within the video communications environment by registering with TANDBERG’s Video Communication Server. TANDBERG’s Video Communication Server provides the necessary SIP-H.323 inter-working that enables the E20 to interoperate with any standards based H.323 or SIP device.
Sandra M. Gustavsen, senior analyst for T3i Group, contributes her TelecomTactics column to TMCnet. To read more of Sandra’s articles, please visit her columnist page.
Edited by Erik Linask