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Product Reviews
 January 2002


optiPoint 100 advance

Siemens Enterprise Networks
Building 1, Floor 2
1700 Technology Dr.
San Jose, CA 95110
Tel: 800-765-6123
Fax: 408-492-2902
Web: www.siemens.com

Price: $420

Editor's Choice Award

Configuration: 4.75
Documentation: 4.75
Features: 4.5
TUI/GUI: 4.5
Overall: A-

The Siemens optiPoint 100 advance IP phone feels and acts similarly to that of a regular executive phone in that its features include call waiting, transfers, forwarding, speakerphone, and speed dials. However, it is more than just an executive phone because of its ability to make calls via the Internet or within a company�s intranet using Session Initiation Protocol (SIP). This reduces long-distance and infrastructure costs and allows users to administer and upgrade software on the IP phone from any computer on the network.

As with most IP devices of this type, the first step of the configuration is to set the IP address of the phone. This must be done from the phone by entering a special password to get into the administrative settings. From there, �Network� can be selected, and the IP address can then be either dynamically or statically assigned. We decided to just turn the DHCP setting on and let our DHCP server assign the IP address.

While this was all we were required to do from the phone, we also decided to select �System� and enter the E164 address, change the SIP routing from direct to server, and enter our SIP proxy server address. The E164 address acts as the IP phones phone number so that other end points can reach it through that number instead of by the phone�s IP address. The proxy server we used was Mediatrix�s IP Communication Server (this software product is discussed more in the review of Mediatrix 1104, which is also in this issue of Internet Telephony). After setting up another Siemens IP phone in the same fashion and restarting both phones and the communication server, we were able to call from either phone to the other via the Mediatrix proxy software.

Since we did not originally have the latest application release of the IP phone�s software, we decided to download it into the phones using FTP. This should have simply been done via the phone�s interface or even remotely though the Web interface, but the process ended up to not be as easy as originally thought. After the FTP failed, we thought that there might have been a problem with the firmware (the latest version 2.7), so we contacted a Siemens representative to attempt to figure out the problem.

We knew that these particular IP phones originally had the H.323 firmware installed, which was then changed to the SIP firmware. After some deliberation, we concluded that the problem lay in the fact that the firmware prior to version 2.7 contained code that put some security restrictions on upgrading between H.323 and SIP. This was supposed to be removed for the version 2.7. However, it seems that the code was not checked as thoroughly as desired. The Siemens representative was finally able to help us debug the IP phones, but it was a little bit out of the ordinary. Without success, we attempted to use TFTP to load a debug file initially using a crossover cable. Then, we decided to try it using a hub, which is what did the trick. Subsequently, we were able to debug the existing firmware and application and load the new application on it.

While we had problems with this upgrade because of the change of H.323 and SIP firmware, we do like the fact that this change can be made on the phone. This makes infrastructure upgrades less costly and easier to manage since the phones do not need to be replaced no matter which protocol is being used with new equipment. It would be even better if both protocols were supported on one version of firmware, but at the moment, we think that this is not really an option because space on the IP phone�s firmware chip may only be able to handle one protocol.

Both the telephone user interface (TUI) and the Web-based GUI were very easy to navigate. In both cases, we did not even need the guidance of the Quick Start Guide or lengthier administrative manual, although they are both available and informative. The Web-based GUI (Figure 4) did not provide all of the settings that the TUI did but satisfied the needs for most remote administrators. Any changes saved in the Web-based GUI were automatically updated on the IP phone or after the phone is restarted, which can be done from the GUI.

There are only a few minor improvements we would suggest for the Web-based GUI. First, when logging in, we noticed that we could not enter the password and then press Enter. Instead, we had to click the Login button. This is important only because many users are accustomed to pressing the Enter key, and by doing this, the user is actually sent back to the initial screen, thereby forcing a few extra clicks and keyboard strokes before getting into the administration settings. Second, although the product can be easily understood without help files, it would be nice to include a link to them. Third, we would like to see the ability to add or change the E164 address from the Web-based GUI, although the end-user must be notified of this change.

As mentioned previously, we were able to make calls through Mediatrix�s IP Communication Server. We also set up a Mediatrix 1104 device (a 4 FXS IP telephony adapter) to interoperate with Siemens� optiPoint 100 advance IP phone. Simply put, when the Mediatrix equipment was set up correctly, it immediately interoperated with the Siemens IP phone. While neither the IP phone nor the 1104 device supported conferencing, we were able to make blind transfer calls, use the call-waiting feature, and perform a third-party consultation, which places the first caller on hold. Furthermore, the quality of the calls was of very high quality. There was not much delay, and we can hear each other as clear as a whistle, especially on the Siemens IP phone�s end.

Most of the interoperability testing for the Siemens IP phone was done at Internet Telephony Conference & EXPO in San Diego in October, where many different companies� SIP equipment did indeed interoperate with the optiPoint 100 advance IP phone. 

The optiPoint 100 advance phone is arguably one of the best IP phones on the market. It passed all of our tests and held its own in sound quality against every other IP phone tested at Internet Telephony Conference & EXPO. It is also flexible in terms of which VoIP protocol it can use, which is especially useful in a lab setting. On top of that, configuring the phone is easy and the features are admirable. We look forward to seeing more from Siemens in this market in the near future.

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