Special Focus

TMC Recommends the Z-60 as a Solid Telecom Value

By Rich Tehrani, Group Editor-in-Chief, TMC  |  January 26, 2015

The number of options for small business communications has never been greater, as Moore’s Law has been responsible for bringing better and better solutions to the market at price points that are truly affordable. Then there is the cloud, with its pay-as-you-go pricing – yet another competitor in the mix. Small businesses never had it so good. But then again this is a confusing time to choose a system because the companies providing hardware are getting really aggressive with features, and they offer great values and capabilities for the dollar. Case in point is Mission Machines Z-60, a VoIP phone system, which comes with four phones and costs about $1,000.

Installation

The installation was fairly straightforward. A tech came to our office and configured the server. The phones were set up already, and we configured a few soft clients. He installed three fixed phones and one cordless SIP DECT (News - Alert) phone from Panasonic. It took about an hour for everything, but in reality these phones and the system come preconfigured so you should just be able to plug everything in and have the whole thing work fine.

Documentation and Training

The tech went over the system with us by exploring the various menu options in the web-based configuration screen. Generally, this was fairly straightforward, but it is worth paying close attention as the Z-60 is quite powerful. In fact it is a phone system as well as a firewall, router, 802.11 access point, DHCP server, auto-attendant, and more.

Features

As mentioned above – this is a very powerful system allowing a small business to minimize its spend on various devices. It further supports six PSTN/FXO ports and 14 SIP trunk line ports, 49 IP-2061 IP speakerphones, and one FXS analog port. In addition, the phones support 24-button DSS/BLF expansion modules (IP-24EXP). The voicemail support is 32 hours.

In addition, the phone supports simultaneous ringing of cell and office phones, can record calls, has voicemail to email notification, support for 100 mailboxes, auto-attendant, and can network to nine sites.

Some other interesting features are line appearances, 24-button expansion modules, and call parking where users can park a call and another user can get access to it. These were important features to small businesses in the days when key systems were popular – about 20 years ago or so. Over time, however, many solutions stopped providing some of these options; but SMBs still love them, and it’s great to see them supported in the Z-60.

Design

There isn’t anything to complain about with regards to build quality. The phones are rugged. They look as good as any other entry-midlevel phones on the market, and when I closely examined the gaps in the plastic, for the most part there wasn’t much variation.

Then there is the software or web portal interface, which I liken to what you might see in a home or SMB access point. It isn’t the fanciest UI, but it gets the job done in a no-frills manner.

Performance

The performance of the phone system was also great. We conference called. We transferred calls. We parked calls and picked them up on other phones. We used SIP clients on Android (News - Alert) and iOS and more. We experienced no problems or technical issues.

Quality

This is a quality system from the hardware to the software. We didn’t find anything here worth complaining about.

Value

The cloud is generally looked at as a low-cost solution, but doing some rough numbers shows how a small business can save a lot of money with this solution over the cloud. Assume a company with 20 users for which it pays $30 per month each. Over a year this is $7,200. Paying $1,000 for the Z-60 suddenly seems like the deal of the century.

Moreover, the 20 users likely use no more than four lines at a time. Mission Machines will sell you SIP trunks at $28.50 per month for the first one and $19.50 for each one thereafter. This includes unlimited local and long-distance calling, caller ID, and a fail-over number which you can forward to. Monthly cost would be $87 or $730 per year. Moreover, you can add a PSTN line or two for failover/faxing and still save a ton of money over the cloud and have a more resilient solution. In fact, you could buy a second system as a spare and still save a lot of money.

Differentiation

This system stands out from some of its SMB competitors because it provides so much functionality for a low price. That includes firewall, DHCP server, router, and Wi-Fi functionality, and more. A small business really can save a lot of money on equipment with an all-in-one system like the Z-60.

Moreover, the ability to support SIP and PSTN lines means easier faxing as well as the ability to fall back on non-IP telephony if there is an Internet or even a network problem. If you have a UPS or generator, you can even communicate without a hitch in the case of a power outage, even if your broadband provider has an outage when the power isn’t functioning. Yes, the system supports PoE, so no power is required by the phones beyond what the system provides.

In addition, you can connect the desk phones wirelessly by adding an XBLUE Networks X-2020 Wi-Fi adapter if you choose. This could be important in areas where it is impossible to run cables because of cost or other issues.

The MM Z-5SP Ceiling Public Broadcasting Wired and Wireless-based IP Phone (News - Alert) also is available. It supports two SIP accounts, 20 paging groups, a built-in microphone, remote web management, PoE, and more. This is perfect for small businesses, factories, and areas in which there may be a need for enhanced communications in emergencies such as schools and hospitals, etc.

Finally, the SIP DECT phone from Panasonic (News - Alert) is a great addition. It worked flawlessly in our tests, and obviously the Japanese company is well-versed in making such devices.

Ease of Use

The phones are intuitive to use, but its user manual is not fancy. It is a piece of paper folded in half with black ink. Still, it was just right in that it showed us how to park calls, transfer them, conference, access the phonebook, and more.

Support

We made one call to support to get help with configuration issues, and the technician quickly got into our system, showed us what the problem was, fixed it, and was on his way.

Room for Improvement

One of the challenges for equipment providers in a world in which Moore’s Law reigns supreme is dealing with falling prices and providing the best bang for the buck. In addition, cloud providers are making the case that their solutions are cheaper than hardware. Mission Machines has done an admirable job of delivering a system with all the crucial bells-and-whistles at a price point that is dirt cheap.

One thing that could make it even better, however, would be if each screen on the user interface offered the ability to click to learn more about the specific options. Theoretically an experienced person would set the phone system up for you, meaning this isn’t really needed. But for the person who wants to truly understand all the powerful features this system provides, without spending hours on Wikipedia researching such information, some extra help would be appreciated.

Bottom Line

Mission Machines Z-60 is a powerful solution for companies looking for an alternative to cloud-based phone systems or for companies looking for a solid value from people who have been in the telecom business for many decades and bring lots of experience to the table. Not only can a company save money compared to competitive cloud-based systems, they can also enjoy redundancy in the case of Internet outages. We recommend the Z-60 as a solid telecom value.

Ease of Install 5

Ease Of Use 5

Interface 4

Functionality 5

Overall rating 5




Edited by Maurice Nagle
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