Note: This blog post has been updated. Check out the new post: Popular Wireless IP Phones for Wi-Fi VoIP Calling
Note: This is the 2nd installment in the Wireless VoIP Office Systems series. Click here for Part I.
When you’re designing a wireless VoIP office system there are two types of wireless VoIP phones to consider, as outlined in the previous post; DECT and Wi-Fi.
Since we have DECT installation details already covered in a guest post series by Polycom, I’d like to specifically highlight Wi-Fi phones.
Fans of DECT systems like that the phones run on their own frequency and are more resistant to interference from other wireless devices. If you’re happy with your WLAN the way it is and would like to get more use out of it, have no interest in adding new infrastructure specifically for DECT, and just need a quick wireless solution than Wi-Fi VoIP phones might be for you.
Here now is a look at the phones with a built-in Wi-Fi transceiver unit that will connect to your access point or base station allowing either the freedom for you to move freely around your home or office while on a call or, allow you to install phones in areas where you can’t or don’t want to run Ethernet cable.
- Price Range: $270
The Cisco SPA525G looks like any other ordinary Cisco desktop VoIP phone. It’s appearance belies its surprising feature of how it connects to your network.
The SPA525G has dual onboard ethernet ports with Power Over Ethernet (PoE) support including a built-in 802.11G WiFi client supporting multiple AP profiles, WiFi Protected Setup, WEP and WPA authentication/encryption. Wired or Wireless ethernet connectivity make the SPA525G a lot more versatile, making this feature popular with users. In our testing the SPA525G quickly scanned for available WiFi networks, and was a snap to configure.
Firmware updates will add new features to keep the SPA525G2 future proof. And when employees are added or moved, simply plug the phone in anywhere on the network and the change will be automatically recognized. And with wireless network connectivity, phone and workspace placement won’t be restricted to the costs of running cables.
The Cisco SPA525G2 stays ahead of the curve with enhanced Bluetooth integration with mobile phones (including Bluetooth headset support) and a high-resolution color video screen than can monitor IP cameras, multimedia functions, wideband audio for superb voice and speaker quality. This Cisco Wi-Fi VoIP phone also supports up to two Cisco SPA500S Expansion Modules (32 button attendant consoles).
- Price Range: $420 to $3,700 (Bundles)
There are a number of Polycom SpectaLink Wi-Fi models to choose from. They differ from the Cisco SPA525G above in that they aren’t corded desktop phones rather, they are cordless handsets that will let you walk and talk (and chew bubblegum at the same time if you’re more coordinated than I am).
Polycom SpectraLink Wi-Fi phones are designed for use in healthcare, retail, manufacturing, hospitality, and general office applications. They are lightweight and slim, feature rugged ABS plastic casings, include a large graphic display, noise suppression technology for use in loud environments, and instantaneous “push-to-talk” (PTT) on high-end models.
With a range of models and bundles to choose from, there’s a SpectraLink handset with the right features and price point that you’re looking for from entry level business grade wireless solutions for small businesses up to high-grade mobile unified communications (UC) for frequent communications.
Like any mobile phone SpectraLink phone accessories include several power options to keep your phone charged and clips, holsters, and cases to keep your handset protected and within reach.
snom 821/870 and snom 720/760
- Price Range: $200 to $320
If you’re into combining style with functionality you’ll like these desktop VoIP phones from snom that have Wi-Fi cabalities. The four snom models I’d like you to consider are the 821, 870, and the new 720 and 760.
With these snom VoIP phones (models 821, 870, 720, 760) an optional USB stick can be used to connect the phone over Wireless LAN. Here’s the breakdown of what they offer.
Both of these phones have TFT color screens that display all manner of pertinent information, HD voice quality, PoE, secure VPN which is great for remote workers, and of course a USB port that with the addition of the snom USB lan card can connect to your PBX via your existing WiFi network.
The snom 821 and snom 870 are available in black and light grey (almost white). If that’s not a good enough choice for you, this phone series offers printable skins so you can personalize your phone with your favorite color or design.
In addition to the standard telephony features both the snom 720 and snom 760 support HD Voice, have dual Gigabit LAN ports, built in full duplex speaker phones, USB ports for the snom USB wireless dongle or Bluetooth headsets, and have 4 variable function keys in addition to the programmable LED keys.
As with other snom VoIP phones they will work with most SIP based systems and are Unified Communications ready.
Both the snom 720 and 760 phones also feature snoms’ new audio subsystem that “was designed for excellent performance in office environments” and “supports a large range of codecs, wideband audio, handset and hands-free operation according to TIA-920 standard.”
- Price Range: $150
The QuickPhones QA-342 is a true “Next Generation” WiFi VoIP phone. Supporting a wide range of calling features including Phonebook, Call History and Caller ID, the QA-342 has been tested with Asterisk Open Source PBX, Trixbox, Elastix, FreeSwitch and other SIP based IP PBX platforms.
The QuickPhones QA-342 boasts a bright, backlit LCD display, durable form factor design and high-clarity, hands-free speakerphone.
With much improved battery performance, the QuickPhones QA-342 claims 14 Hour Talk Time and seven Day Standby. The QA-342 comes with an additional desktop charging cradle.
UniData WPU-7800 and SQ-3000
- Price Range: $180 to $350
The UniData WPU-7800 features WPA2/WEP/UMA wireless security, automatic roaming, power saving technology for longer battery life, 802.11 broadband (data, video and voice network in converged service), and multimedia service.
The Unidata SQ-3000 handset has an easy-to-use, mobile phone user interface, and includes a phonebook with up to 1,000 contacts, muting and call waiting capability. The SQ-3000 has a full range of Wi-Fi security options, including 128-bit WEP and WPA.
Uniquely, the Unidata SQ-3000 handset supports high-resolution H.264 video telephony (with up to 30 fps) on its 2.8-inch touch screen with 320×240 resolution. Suitable for conference calls, the SQ-3000 has a full duplex speaker phone option for clear two way conversations and offers up to three hours of video calling and six hours of voice calling time. Six straight hours of talking might be extreme but the strain wouldn’t be so bad as this phone weighs just 135g (0.297 lb).
If you’re still unsure if Wi-Fi VoIP phones are for you, remember that this option is great if you’re simply looking to leverage your existing Wi-Fi infrastructures. And if you choose Wi-Fi handsets over deskotp models, the wireless handsets will also help you eliminate paging delays, improve operations and enable faster responses to problems and emergencies.
Either way, desktop or cordless handsets, Wi-Fi VoIP phones will give you greater flexibility in where you want to place your office and therefore your phone, without the added costs or hassles of having to run additional Ethernet cabling.