Putting Business SMS In More Hands with SkySwitch’s Appointment Reminder App

In recent years, more and more of the companies I use, including my car dealership, where I get my car serviced, my doctor’s and dentist’s offices and other service providers, have wisely started using SMS reminders to keep in touch with me. There’s a good reason for this – as with most Americans, our mobile phones are either in our hand or near us virtually 100% of time – making text messaging the ubiquitous way to reach customers.

From a business perspective, appointment reminders make financial sense too. By alerting customers to scheduled and upcoming appointments, businesses can minimize the missed appointments caused by human error, forgetfulness and unforeseen circumstances.

So, yes, appointment reminders make sense for both your customers and for your business, but the difficult thing has been building the plumbing to enable your business to have the capability to send reminders out. Thankfully, customers of SkySwitch resellers have a new feature available to them – SkySwitch Appointment Reminder application.

Capabilities and Features of SkySwitch’s Appointment Reminder App

With the Appointment Reminder app, resellers’ customers can easily schedule and record appointments and configure automated reminder campaigns for upcoming appointments. Reminders can be set up to be voice calls or SMS reminders, or a combination of the two. Also, customers can schedule reminders to go out as a single occurrence or a recurring event.

If your company uses a CRM application or an automation tool, like the popular Zapier, reminders can be created and scheduled automatically when a new appointment is created within the system.

What SkySwitch Reseller, Team Up Telecom, Has to Say About Appointment Reminders

To get a sense of what benefits the Appointment Reminders capability means to a SkySwitch customer, we asked Clark de Leon of Florida based Team Up Telecom about his experience with it..

What’s your favorite aspect of the new Appointment Reminders app?

I really like the way you can use it not only to remind your customers of upcoming appointments but also to remind them about upcoming bill payments. Text notification is perfect for our customer base and SkySwitch has built a solution that lets me use text messages in any way that’s relevant for my business and for my customers.  I also love the third-party integrations – no other telecom providers are able to offer this.

What are customers of yours saying about Appointment Reminders?

We’re still working on roll-out and our early customers say they like that it’s included in their normal monthly costs – and that they don’t have to go to another provider to integrate text messaging capabilities.

How difficult was setup for the Team Up team?

Set up is easy on our side. Nothing complicated once you know how it works. Once you set up your Reminder settings, all you need to do is add or remove recipients.

How does Appointment Reminders differentiate SkySwitch as a telecom provider?

Well, again, we love not having to go to a third party for integration reasons and because of added cost/complexity. I really like how SkySwitch’s text capability can work on both SMS reminder and as an SMS provider.

How to Get Started With Appointment Reminders 

If you’d like to try SkySwitch’s Appointment Reminder App for your customers, we offer two fantastic ways to get started. First, our Knowledge Base has a fantastic step-by-step reference of how to get going.

Also, our own Corey Stoker has recorded an informative video if you’d like to see the tool in action.

Product Review: Snom D785

Snom is a unique offering in the business world because their products are always high performing and well-designed phones that perform with that legendary German precision. Let’s check out the Snom D785 as another member of the company’s next-generation desktop VoIP lineup.

For information and background on the Snom D735, be sure to see our review published earlier this year.

Features and Out-of-the-Box Experience

The Snom D785, at first look, is a very handsome set. It has that legendary Snom design in a compact body — with numerous features and buttons all presented in an aesthetically pleasing way. The phone has an impressive 4.3” color display and 6 configurable LED keys that can bring frequently-contacted colleagues within one-touch access. There’s also a secondary display that brings easy contact and call management functionality to the forefront.

Let’s look at the D785s feature list:

  • A 4.3” 320×240 color LCD screen
  • Support for up to 12 SIP accounts
  • Dedicated display for extension monitoring
  • Dual switch gigabit ethernet ports with integrated power over ethernet (known as PoE)
  • HD Audio support with support for all the major codecs including Opus
  • 3-year standard warranty from Snom

When your Snom D785 arrives, you’ll open the box and discover the highly fashionable handset base, ethernet cord, power cords and footstand that allows you to set up the phone at the viewing angle that makes sense for your desk height and preferences.

Provisioning

After you unbox and set up the phone, the Snom D785 is ready for provisioning to your company’s phone system. If the Snom phone was ordered through the SkySwitch Store, the phone will come pre-provisioned and ready for use directly out of the box.

As my unit came direct from Snom, I simply followed the instructions on the SkySwitch Knowledge Base, which instructed me to: 

  • Add the Snom D785’s MAC address to my SkySwitch Dash Manager via the MAC address, which can be found on the back of the phone
  • Set the D785 to use SkySwitch’s provisioning server via the D785 web user interface. 
    • To find the D785’s IP address, record it upon boot-up as it’s displayed on the color screen as it loads up
    • Pull up the IP address in a browser using a computer on the same network by going to http://
    • Set the provisioning server to http://sipcfg.io/cfg/{mac}
    • Hit save and reboot the Snom D785. The phone will reboot and be ready for use

Use and Performance

I’ve had the Snom D785 on my desk for a week, using it to call contacts in Ireland, and landlines all over the US and Canada.

In terms of call testing, the D785 performed very well. All my callers were able to hear me clearly when I spoke on the handset as I spoke to them on landlines and mobile phones. Also, when talking through my headset, I was clearly audible to callers and they sounded great to me. The speakerphone returned great results as well – and it was freeing to be able to depend on its crisp and clear audio quality when I had to quickly answer.

The stand-out feature on the D785 though has to be the secondary screen. With it, you can bring contacts, calling features and applications within one-touch access. For instance, if you want to initiate a 3-way call, it’s fast with these customizable buttons.

Another small touch on this phone I love: the integrated LED that provides a visual alert to voicemails when I return to my desk. It’s a small touch — but to me, it stands out in this compact, highly functional phone.

One note for D785 buyers — there’s no power unit in the box. So, if your office environment doesn’t support PoE (power over ethernet), you’ll want to add a plug-in adapter to power the D785.

Conclusion

The Snom D785 is a smart, attractive phone that keeps me in contact with all my colleagues, in my office and abroad. The smart modern design of this deskphone presents call functionality in an intuitive way, and the performance of the D785 means you can rely on a quality call, every time. 

*Like all products Jason Harris is reviewing, this device is available in the SkySwitch store, accessible through the SkySwitch Reseller Dashboard.

 

Product Review: Yealink SIP-T53W

Yealink is a desk phone, speakerphone and headset manufacturer that is trusted for making great sounding voice products that are reliable, big on value and easy to deploy. Today, we evaluate the mid-range Yealink SIP-T53W and evaluate it for its viability in today’s office environment.

Features 

The Yealink SIP-T53W is an attractive phone unit with a 3.7” LCD display that swivels vertically for an optimal viewing angle depending on your desk height and setup. This desk phone model has advanced wireless connectivity, including built-in support for Bluetooth, and dual-band Wi-Fi, so you can use it without being tethered to an ethernet cable if you choose. Finally, you’ll find and a USB port for call recording or using with a wireless expansion module that enables you to use Yealink expansion modules, or cordless phones 

In an office environment with background noise? You’ll enjoy Yealink’s proprietary Acoustic Shield technology, which eliminates background chatter and distractions. In today’s growing work from home use of phones made for the office, this is a big plus when the kids walk in and just start talking to you from across the room.

Other features to highlight:

  • Support for Wi-Fi (including 802.11a/b/g/n/ac)
  • Bluetooth 4.2 connectivity for wireless headsets
  • USB port for call recording on a USB thumb drive
  • Power over Ethernet (PoE) support
  • Support for up to 16 VoIP accounts
  • LED for call and message waiting indication

Lastly, I’d really like to highlight the Wi-Fi capability that’s included onboard the Yealink SIP-T53W. With more office workers needing business phones at home, this unit’s wireless connectivity enables you to have a phone in places in your home/office without the need for ethernet cables. This is a huge advantage for this Yealink model.

Opening the Box and Setup

My review unit came with the expected included pieces: the phone base unit, the handset, cord, stand, ethernet cable and power supply. One note — not all Yealink SIP-T53W phone units come with a power supply, so make sure to check and purchase a Yealink power supply separately if your unit does not include one, or if your network does not have power over ethernet (PoE).

Lastly, there’s an included plastic stand that enables you to customize the angle the phone sits on your desk. This phone model is easy to assemble and to connect to your network — it took me less than 75 seconds to get the phone physically ready to use.

If you purchase the Yealink from the SkySwitch store, it arrives already provisioned out of the box. For me, this unit came from Yealink, so I had to provision it myself. Luckily, getting the new Yealink handset online and ready to use was an easy three-step process:

  • Find the MAC address using the YeaLink on-screen menus
  • Add the phone to my Skyswitch Dashmanager PBX using the Yealink’s MAC address
  • Setting the Yealink to use SkySwitch’s server URL in the web user interface

For the Yealink, I simply navigated to the Admin settings, set the provisioning server address to http://sipcfg.io/cfg – then, the Yealink SIP-T53W power cycled itself and the phone came back ready to use!

Let’s Check Out Performance 

I’ve been using the Yealink for a week now, both at my home (to mimic working from home situations) and at my office. In both environments, the SIP-T53W performed marvelously. The phone is easy to set up and sounded perfect in each call I placed and received. I have used the SIP-T53W to call my SkySwitch colleagues via extensions, regular landlines and on their mobile phones in the U.S. and Canada, and each call sounded really clear.

Yealink’s Acoustic Shield noise isolation technology came in handy when I had noisy office chatter in my work area; it was great at canceling out cars driving by and copying machines that are near my workspace. The phone has a great user experience overall. Using the on phone display, I was easily able to handle calls such as mute, transfer and use my headset.

I also tested out the speakerphone on the Yealink, and it performed as expected. Callers were able to hear me but not any of my background noise – but, of course, they also reported that  I didn’t sound as good as when I was on the handset.

Lastly, at home, my review of the Yealink SIP-T53W was to ensure the WiFi support performed well in different parts of my house, where I know my WiFi signal is strong and other areas where it’s weak. I’m happy to report the antennas and performance of the desk phone performed well in my house, no matter where I placed calls from. I had zero dropouts and no dropped calls. So – home workers – this is a great phone for you to use in your home office workplace.

Conclusion

The Yealink SIP-T53W is an attractive, well-built, and highly functional office desk phone that will compliment your office or home office well. It delivers amazing call performance and has a set of features that’s unrivaled in the marketplace. 

*Like all products Jason Harris is reviewing, this device is available in the SkySwitch store, accessible through the SkySwitch Reseller Dashboard.

 

Snom’s M10 and M10R KLE Wireless DECT Handset Enables You to Walk While You Talk

Sometimes being tethered via cord to your desk all day simply doesn’t work — perhaps if you manage a retail store or just need to move about your workplace. That means you need a portable solution. Enter the Snom’s M100 KLE DECT base station accompanied by the M10 KLE handset. 

These high-fidelity, functional cordless phones bring flexibility, performance and utility that can’t be matched or offer that mobility without the need for a WiFi network or forwarding calls to a mobile phone.

Features and Out-of-the-Box Experience

First, let’s talk about model numbers so the rest of the review makes sense. 🙂 

The M100 KLE is the base station that plugs into your office’s wired network. It has the appearance of a cable modem and enables the system to function correctly — and facilitates up to 10 cordless phones to work properly. The M100 KLE plugs in via ethernet and can be powered by power over ethernet (PoE) or the included AC adapter.

The M10 KLE and M10R KLE are the two cordless handsets I’ve been testing that work with the M100 base unit. Respectively, these are the regular version and the ruggedized 10R version that adds water resistance and shock resistance — perfect for businesses who may take the cordless handset outdoors, or in backrooms where concrete floors are the norm.

M10 KLE Handset
M10R KLE Handset

Let’s cover the M100 base unit features:

  • Easy wireless installation
  • HD audio
  • Compatible to 10 cordless handset or deskset
  • Advanced call handling

A for the M10 KLE handset:

  • 1.8” LCD screen
  • Four LED backlit programmable keys
  • Nine hours of talk time and seven days of standby
  • Local phonebook up to 1,000 entries
  • Call handling: call hold, forwarding, timer, Caller ID
  • 2.55 mm corded headset jack

The M10R KLE has the same feature set as the M10 and adds shock and water resistance.

When you open the boxes for these devices, you’re greeted with all the cables and necessities to get up and running. If you buy your Snom M100 and M10 KLE system through SkySwitch, it already comes provisioned and is ready to go right out of the box. 

For me, because these came directly from SNOM, I used the handset’s user interface to specify the settings needed for me to get the phones up and running.

Use and Performance

After a week of using the Snom DECT wireless handset, I am very impressed. The KLE set delivers an easy to use experience, crystal clear audio quality, amazing distance and fantastic battery life.

One of my favorite features is the user-definable function keys that customize my phone experience. I can set my frequently called colleagues, or conference bridges, to be just one button away, adding convenience and speed.

As for call performance, the Snom M10 and M10R shine. I used the phones to call colleagues by extension and landlines and mobiles across the United States. During every call, my callers’ audio was clear and audible — and they said the same for my voice. I tested out the phone’s speakerphone functionality and found it worked well. But, if I am more than 2 feet away from the handset, callers reported they had trouble hearing me.

Does your business have a large footprint? You’ll be stunned by the Snom M10 KLE’s range. I walked all around my two-story office and never experienced any dropouts or cut out voices — which is a strong testament to the handset’s range, fidelity and capability.

As for the M10R KLE, I dropped the handset to test the shock resistance and showered the device — as advertised, these tests didn’t foil the handset. It just kept working as if nothing had happened

Finally, let’s talk about battery life. The M10 KLR and M10R KLE live up to the promised battery life. I spoke for more than 8 hours between charges on these phones, so if you’re looking for a long-lasting, long-range and durable phone set, seek no further.

Conclusion

The Snom M100 base station combined with the M10 KLE handset has proven to be a high-performing office phone — perfect for businesses that need to have wireless flexibility that really performs. This phone set will give you days worth of talk time and a rugged toughness that will keep you connected and in-touch with your colleagues and more.

*Like all products Jason Harris is reviewing, this device is available in the SkySwitch store, accessible through the SkySwitch Reseller Dashboard.

 

Product Review: Poly VVX 450 Business IP Phone

Poly is a leader in telephony and communications product offerings. In our exploration of the VVX series of Poly phones, we’ve already looked at the VVX 350 and today we’re evaluating the Poly VVX 450 and putting it through its paces.

Features and Overview

The Poly VVX 450 is a business IP phone that brings a fantastic price to value offering that features:

  • A large 4.3” color display
  • HD Voice support with support for the G.722, G.722.1, G.729AB, G.711 codecs
  • Group intercom paging — you can broadcast messages out to other Poly phones in your office
  • 12 line key buttons — including a Power Keys Service that enables you to manage up to 6 live calls at one time or monitor status of 4 other extensions
  • Two (2) gigabit ethernet ports 

Opening the Box

Poly’s packaging for the VVX 450 is straightforward and gets to the point. The company only ships using recyclable materials and when you open the box, you’ll encounter the expected phone base, power adapter, handset, cord and ethernet cord. 

The Poly VVX 450 offers power over ethernet capable (PoE) but comes with a power adapter, which is a value add amongst competitors.

Lastly, there’s an included stand that enables you to customize the angle the phone sits on your desk. This phone model is easy to assemble and to connect to your network — it took me less than 30 seconds to get the phone physically ready to use.

Image from iOS (24)-cropped

Setup and Provisioning on SkySwitch

Once I had the VVX 450 out of the box and onto my workplace’s wired network, the phone booted up for its’ initial set up and I was ready to provision and start using it.

Luckily, getting the new Poly handset operational and ready to use was an easy three-step process:

  1. Find the MAC address using the Poly VVX 450s on-screen menus
  2. Add the phone to my PBX set up on Poly using the MAC address
  3. Use the Poly’s on-screen setup screen, setting the server type and address

Note: while some desk phones can use an integrated web page user interface to provision and set these preferences on the device, I read this Skyswitch Knowledge Base article and found that for Poly phones, you set this easy configuration up using the phone’s menus, not the Web UI. 

That said, phones ordered via the SkySwitch store are shipped already provisioned.

So, in my case, I simply:

  1. Navigated to the Admin settings, then Network Configuration, 
  2. Chose Provisioning Server
    1. Changed the Server Type to HTTP and set the server address to http://sipcfg.io/cfg – then, the Poly VVX 450 power cycled itself and the phone came back ready to use!

Performance and Real-World Usage

I’ve been using Poly VVX 450 to dial landlines, Skyswitch office mates’ extensions and mobile numbers in the US, UK and France. The audio quality on my handset is dynamic and easy to hear. My callers can hear me clearly and I can hear them. I find the ergonomics of the handset to be a pleasure to use as Poly has placed buttons and call functionality in ideal spots on the phone base. The color screen is ideal to work with and the programmable softkeys bring conference lines and colleagues into one-touch reach.

When I deploy the speakerphone, I’ve been told my voice can be heard despite my office space’s high ceiling and ambient noise. Paired with my Plantronics Savi 8220 headset – which is supported by the VVX 450’s headset jack – calls sound pristine and clear.

Conclusion

The Poly VVX 450 is a solid handset that offers a price to value that can’t be matched. Its monster screen and easily accessible function keys bring your colleagues easily in touch with one-click accessibility.

*Like all products Jason Harris is reviewing, this device is available in the SkySwitch store, accessible through the SkySwitch Reseller Dashboard.

 

Product Review: Grandstream GRP2612 vs. GRP2614

Grandstream’s GRP series of phones are functional, easy to use for end users and are quick deploy-ready for IT teams. We’ve already checked out the Grandstream GRP2613 in a prior review and I was impressed with it.

 

Today we’re looking at two more members of the GRP family – the GRP2612 and GRP2614. These two phones are similar, with the GRP2614 adding features that we’ll highlight throughout this article. Let’s dive in.

Features and Out-of-the-Box Experience

 

The Grandstream GRP2612 is the entry level member of the 2600 series, but don’t let that make you think it’s not a fully capable handset. Quite the opposite. This 2-line phone has customizable line keys, Wi-Fi and more.

 

The GRP2612 phone features:

  • A color LCD screen 
  • 4 multi-purpose programmable line keys
  • Support for dual-band WiFi
  • HD audio support including codecs such as G.722 and Opus

 

Adding to this, the top of the line, GRP2614 includes:

  • 4-line SIP support
  • Dual LCD screen with digital BLD keys
  • Integrated Bluetooth
  • Gigabit switch auto-sensing Ethernet support with integrated power over ethernet (PoE)

 

When your Grandstream model arrives, you’ll open the box and discover the phone base unit, ethernet cord, power cords and footstand that allows you to set up the phone at the viewing angle that resonates with your office/desk setup. You will note the Grandstream provides a power adapter in the box – where some other vendors don’t.

GRP2612
GRP2614

Provisioning your Grandstream Phone

After physical setup, the GRP2612/14 is ready for provisioning on your local network. If the Grandstream phone was ordered through the SkySwitch store, the phone will arrive automatically provisioned and ready for use directly out of the box.

As my unit came direct from Grandstream, I simply followed the instructions on the SkySwitch Knowledge Base, which instructed me to: 

    • Add the Grandstream’s MAC address to my SkySwitch Dash Manager via the MAC address, which can be found on the rear of the phone.
    • Set the GRP2612/14 to use SkySwitch’s provisioning server via the GRP2613’s web user interface. 
      • To find the GRP2612/14’s IP address, use the onboard menus to navigate to Status, then network, then you’ll see the IP.
      • Login on the address using Admin as the login, and the password which is printed on the back of your GRP2612/14
      • Set the provisioning server to sipcfg.io/cfg
      • Your Grandstream GRP2612/14 will reboot and be ready for use

Use and Performance

Just like the Grandstream 2613 phone, I put through its’ paces earlier, I can report that the GRP2612 performs without a hitch. The GRP2612 features a lovely functional yet well-designed look as it performs as my calling workhorse throughout my workday. Grandstream puts all the most-used function keys within easy reach including headset, mute, conference and more.

In my calling tests, the GRP2612 performed flawlessly. No matter who I was calling, whether it was colleagues accessible by extension or outside mobile and landlines – the callers reported I sounded clear on the handset. The one factor, on the GRP2612, however, was the speakerphone – my callers asked me to repeat myself multiple times, indicating less than ideal performance.

I am happy that the GRP2612 has Wi-Fi built-in as sometimes this is more convenient in my desk and office environment. Having to rely upon a hardwired ethernet connection limits me if I want to move my handset around on my desk without worrying about wires.

As for the GRP2614 – this bigger brother model absolutely shines in performance both in the call-quality category and ergonomics. The speakerphone, which was a weak point on the GRP2612, shined on the GRP2614 as my callers were more audible and my voice was clearer to them also. Also, the handset performance was rock solid.

I enjoyed the dual LED screens on the GRP2614 as I set the lower LED to be set to dial callers I speak to often throughout my workday.

Conclusion

The Grandstream GRP2612 offers an amazing value for money and provides a calling experience that will satisfy the needs for most office workers. With its support for multiple SIP lines, WiFi and more – it performs as well as it looks.

Its big brother, the GRP2614 brings a premium experience that works for executives, managers or heavy phone users who need to have more functionality and screen-displays for easy one-touch access to colleagues and frequent contacts.

*Like all products Jason Harris is reviewing, this device is available in the SkySwitch store, accessible through the SkySwitch Reseller Dashboard.

 

Product Review: Snom D735

Snom is known for making well designed, engineered and functional phones that look as great as they perform. Today we’re looking at the Snom D735, which is the mid-range phone in the company’s line-up. Bringing a high-quality German look and feel, the D735 brings a rich feature set that really performs. Let’s check it out.

Features and Out-of-the-Box Experience

One feature that immediately stands out to me with the Snom D735 is its unique motion sensor. Once your hand approaches the display or function keys, the display springs to life and shows all key assignments and brings your phone’s functionality to life. This is the first VoIP desk phone to have this capability.

But the Snom D735 robust feature list doesn’t stop there. 

Features include:

  • A 2.8” 320×240 color LCD screen
  • Support for up to 12 SIP accounts and 8 multi-purpose programmable line keys
  • Dual switch gigabit ethernet ports with integrated power over ethernet (known as PoE)
  • HD Audio support with support for all the major codecs including Opus
  • 3-year standard warranty from Snom

When your Snom D735 arrives, you’ll open the box and discover the fashionable handset base, ethernet cord, power cords and footstand that allows you to set up the phone at the viewing angle that resonates with your office/desk setup.

Provisioning

After you unbox and set up the phone, the Snom D735 is ready for provisioning to your company’s phone system. If the Snom phone was ordered through the SkySwitch store, the phone will come automatically provisioned and ready for use directly out of the box.

As my unit came direct from Snom, I simply followed the instructions on the SkySwitch Knowledge Base, which instructed me to: 

  • Add the Snom D735’s MAC address to my SkySwitch Dash Manager via the MAC address, which can be found on the back of the phone
  • Set the D735 to use SkySwitch’s provisioning server via the D735 web user interface. 
    • To find the D735’s IP address, record it upon boot-up as it’s displayed on the color screen as it loads up
    • Pull up the IP address in a browser using a computer on the same network by going to http://
    • Set the provisioning server to http://sipcfg.io/cfg/{mac}
    • Hit save and reboot the Snom D735. The phone will reboot and be ready for use

Use and Performance

After a week of testing out the D735 from Snom, I can tell you that this phone is a real joy to use. 

I enjoy the user-definable function keys that customize my phone experience. I can set my frequently called colleagues, or conference bridges, to be just one-button away and have easy one-touch access to silence my phone, conference in more folks while in-call and more.

As for call performance, the Snom D735 shines. While speaking on the handset, the people  I placed calls to around the country, and in the UK, could hear me solidly and they sounded amazing to me. As for the speakerphone, I was able to speak on it and as long as I was within 3 feet, it sounded fantastic. However, beyond this radius, background noise settled in and my callers could not hear me.

One note for D735 buyers — the unit I received had no power adapter included in the box, meaning the phone relies upon power over ethernet (PoE) to do its job. So, if your office environment doesn’t support PoE, you’ll want to seek a plug-in adapter to power the D735.

If I had a complaint to lodge with the Snom product team, it’s the size of the screen on the D735 and its associated resolution/functionality opportunity cost. Case in point, the phone number has to scroll side-to-side because of the low resolution on the phone and horizontally it just doesn’t fit. The screen has too much whitespace and it seems Snom could reduce the margins to accommodate more text.

Conclusion

The Snom D735 is a mid-range phone that fills the niche of functionality, design and performance. Compared to competitors, the Snom brings an aesthetic and feature set that can’t be rivaled. The D735 sounds good, performs well and is a fantastic purchase. 

*Like all products Jason Harris is reviewing, this device is available in the SkySwitch store, accessible through the SkySwitch Reseller Dashboard.

Product Review: Grandstream GRP2613 Desk Phone

Grandstream’s GRP lineup aims to bring a series of phones that are highly functional, easy to use and easy on IT teams to deploy and provision. In time, on the SkySwitch blog, we’ll check out a plethora of Grandstream GRP phones, starting today with the GRP2613. 

 

The Grandstream GRP2613 features a color screen, support for all major voice codecs, easy one-touch buttons for call management, HD Audio and support for up to 3 phone lines. This is a functional and mid-level telephony workhorse for today’s connected employees. 

Features and Out-of-the-Box Experience

For IT and company management, the GRP2613 offers a great feature set for your users. 

These include:

  • A 2.8” color LCD screen
  • Support for up to 3 SIP accounts and 6 multi-purpose line keys
  • Dual switch gigabit ethernet ports with integrated Power over ethernet (known as PoE)
  • HD Audio support with support for major codecs
  • Swappable faceplates for logo customization and branding

When your GRP2613 arrives, it comes with the phone’s base unit, the handset with cords, a power adapter, including ethernet cable and stand — which can be attached to the phone at two different spots to customize the viewing angle of the LCD screen.

Setting up the phone for use is straightforward — simply unpackage and assemble the phone. Attach the handset, ethernet cable and power adapter, and the Grandstream GRP2613 powers up. On this unit, a dedicated headset jack is included for your wired headset of choice. In my case, I attached my Plantronics Savi 8820 for my calling activity.

GRP2613_front-trimmed

Provisioning the Grandstream GRP2613

After physical setup, the GRP2613 is ready for provisioning on your network. If the Grandstream phone was ordered through the SkySwitch store, the phone will come automatically provisioned and ready for use directly out of the box.

As my unit came direct from Grandstream, I simply followed the instructions on the SkySwitch Knowledge Base, which instructed me to: 

  • Add the Grandstream’s MAC address to my SkySwitch Dash Manager via the MAC address, which can be found on the rear of the phone.
  • Set the GRP2613 to use SkySwitch’s provisioning server via the GRP2613’s web user interface. 
    • To find the GRP2613’s IP address, use the onboard menus to navigate to Status, then network, then you’ll see the IP.
    • Login on the address using Admin as the login, and the password which is printed on the back of your GRP2613.
    • Set the provisioning server to sipcfg.io/cfg
    • Your Grandstream GRP2613 will reboot and be ready for use

Use and Performance of the GRP2613 Desk Phone

When looking at the GRP2613, it’s apparent that Grandstream wanted to build a phone that’s fully featured for office workers and easy to use. I enjoy the buttoned-up design that puts functions such as mute, headset, call management and more in a straightforward manner. 

In my usage of the Grandstream phone, calls have been reliable, crisp and fast. This phone works perfectly well with SkySwitch’s network backbone for flawless execution. Also, my callers report that I’m clear, no matter if it’s calling my colleagues within SkySwitch or landlines and mobiles of those at partner companies. I also really enjoyed using the soft keys that the GRP2613 comes with — I have one-touch access to my most-called extensions, which saves me a lot of time.

One complaint: The Grandstream GRP2613 is a reliable and functional phone, but it definitely requires a physical connection as this phone doesn’t have WiFi built-in, so if you’re deploying this phone to an environment without an ethernet connection, you’ll need to look at other Grandstream models that do so.

Conclusion

Grandstream’s GRP2613 is a reliable calling workhorse that will satisfy the IT Director’s desire for an easy-to-deploy phone that satisfies end users with a functional and fully featured desk phone. With its straightforward design, onboard screen and easy-to-use call functions, the GRP2613 will keep everyone in your office producing and well-connected.

*Like all products Jason Harris is reviewing, this device is available in the SkySwitch store, accessible through the SkySwitch Reseller Dashboard.

Product Review: Yealink SIP-T54W

BY JASON HARRIS, REVIEWS EDITOR

Yealink, the top-selling brand in the SkySwitch store, is best known for delivering high-quality voice products that are well built, sound great, and are a big value. Today we’re going to look at the Yealink SIP-T54W desk phone and see if this model delivers on the brand’s reputation.

Features 

The Yealink SIP-T54W is a handsome phone unit with a colorful 4.3” color display that swivels vertically for an optimal viewing angle depending on your desk height and setup. The SIP-T54W has built-in support for Bluetooth, dual-band Wi-Fi, so you can use it without being tethered to an ethernet cable if you choose, and a USB port for call recording.

Those in a noisy office environment will really dig Yealink’s Acoustic Shield technology, which eliminates background chatter and distractions. I find it interesting that Yealink calls this a ‘corded-cordless’ model — what this means is that a dongle can be attached to the back of the phone unit, so you can pair this wired phone with a cordless headset unit in case you want to walk around your office.

Other features to highlight:

  • Support for Wi-Fi 
  • Bluetooth connectivity for wireless headsets
  • Power over Ethernet (PoE) support
  • Support for up to 16 VoIP accounts
  • LED for call and message waiting indication

Opening the Box and Setup

My review unit came with the expected kit: the phone base unit, the handset, cord, stand, and ethernet cable. One note — my unit didn’t come with a power supply, so if your office doesn’t have power over ethernet (PoE) set up in its network cabling, you’ll need to ensure you purchase a Yealink power supply for this phone. (This is also the case if you plan to use the Yealink SIP-T54W via WiFi in your office.)

Lastly, there’s an included plastic stand that enables you to customize the angle the phone sits on your desk. This phone model is easy to assemble and to connect to your network — it took me less than 75 seconds to get the phone physically ready to use.

If you purchase the Yealink from the SkySwitch store, it arrives already provisioned out of the box. For me, this unit came from Yealink, so I had to provision it myself. Luckily, getting the new Yealink handset online and ready to use was an easy three-step process:

  • Find the MAC address using the YeaLink on-screen menus
  • Add the phone to my Skyswitch Dashmanager PBX using the Yealink’s MAC address
  • Setting the Yealink to use SkySwitch’s server URL in the web user interface

For the Yealink, I simply navigated to the Admin settings, set the provisioning server address to http://sipcfg.io/cfg – then, the Yealink SIP-T54W power cycled itself and the phone came back ready to use!

Let’s Check Out Performance 

After a week of using the Yealink, I can say that it performs very well! The phone was easy to set up, looks very handsome on my desk and has sounded perfect in each call I’ve placed. I have used the SIP-T54W to call my SkySwitch colleagues via extensions, regular landlines and on their mobile phones in the U.S. and Canada, and each call sounded clear.

Yealink’s Acoustic Shield noise isolation technology came in handy when I had noisy office chatter in my work area; it was great at silencing the copying machine near me as well. The buttons and user interface on the 4.3” screen are a joy to use, and I easily figured out how to integrate my headset to mute and transfer calls. 

I also tested out the speakerphone on the Yealink, and it performed as expected. Callers were able to hear me but not any of my background noise – but, of course, they also reported that  I didn’t sound as good as when I was on the handset.

Conclusion

The Yealink SIP-T54W is an attractive, well-built, and highly functional office desk phone that will compliment your office or home office well. It delivers amazing call performance and has a set of features that’s unrivaled in the marketplace. 

 

*Like all products Jason Harris is reviewing, this device is available in the SkySwitch store, accessible through the SkySwitch Reseller Dashboard.

Product Review: Plantronics Savi 8220 Headset Is the Connected Worker’s Best Friend

BY JASON HARRIS, REVIEWS EDITOR

Working in the 21st century means having to stay connected. These days, we have many, many options for connecting with our colleagues, friends and coworkers. For me, I’m constantly switching between my deskphone, computer-based service such as Zoom, Slack and other services, and of course my mobile phone.

We’re used to wired headsets that can connect to our deskphones that sales, support, administrative or anyone who calls regularly for work are familiar with — and then in some cases, we need a separate headset for smartphones and tablets such as Apple AirPods that connect via Bluetooth.

This is why the Plantronics Savi 8220 headset is pure genius. This connected device can hook up to all three devices that you have your daily calls on, no matter which device they occur on, all at the same time. Let’s dig in and see how the Savi 8220 performs.

First Impressions and Unboxing

The Plantronics Savi 8220, as you can see in this picture, is a two-piece solution — the base itself and the wireless headset. The box comes with all accessories needed, the cords and a quick start guide to get you up and running fast.

The headset is well-built and the kit comes with:

  • Wireless headset 
  • USB Type-A cable
  • Phone RJ-11 cable
  • Headset base

This headset is extremely lightweight and so comfortable. It connects to your laptop or desktop computer via USB cable; to your mobile phone via Bluetooth connection; and to your deskphone using the included phone jack. One might think this connection set up and wiring would be difficult, but every cable is clearly labeled and documented in the supplied “Quick Start” guide.

The Impressive Feature List

The Plantronics Savi 8220 is a premium grade desk headset, and this is apparent with the feature list. This device delivers enterprise-grade DECT audio, which means you’ll have amazing stereo sound, active noise cancellation (which cuts out background noise) and more. Let’s go through this impressive feature list:

  • Multi-device connectivity including mobile phone, computer and deskphone
    • You can even join calls together between your mobile and desk with the push of a button for handy three-way calling
  • 580 feet of range— that’s almost two football fields, or three hockey rinks, in distance
  • Noise-canceling mic
  • Battery life that lasts 13 hours of talk time before needing a charge
  • Adaptive power system that activates low-power mode when the headset is close to its base, to conserve battery life
  • Mute alert that tells you if you’re talking on mute mode
  • Built-in ringer so you can take calls away from your desk

Buttons and Controls

The Savi 8220 headset and base have buttons that let you control every aspect of the calling experience with the device.

On the headset itself, the adjustable mic enables you to position it perfectly so your callers can hear you. There are two buttons on the mic boom, including the multi-function call button that starts and ends calls, and the red mute button. On the right side of the headphone is a slider dial-like rotating button that adjusts call volume in an easy way. (That means no having to fuss with up and down buttons that can be super confusing.)

On the bottom of each can (the headphone itself) are two buttons — one is off/on so you can control power. On the other can is a button to toggle ANC, or active noise cancellation, that cuts down background noise on the mic in case you’re in a noisy environment.

On the base, there are three buttons that control which ‘channel’ the headset is connected to — either your mobile phone via Bluetooth, your computer or your deskphone. Again, you can bridge calls between your mobile phone and your deskphone in case you need a quick 3-way call with ease.

Performance and Call Quality

So, there are many things to evaluate with the Savi 8220. At its price point, it’s important that this headset performs. I’m here to tell you — it really does!

As far as call voice quality, I’ve never heard my callers with such high-fidelity. No matter if I’m calling through my deskphone (the headset is hooked up currently through my Grandstream VVX3370), my mobile or a Zoom call on my Mac, the high-fidelity audio features shine. Also, HD Voice calls via my mobile are high quality. Callers say I sound crystal clear, and their voices are also fantastic to me.

It’s remarkable how comfortable the Savi 8220 is. It’s surprisingly lightweight, easy to wear all day and it is amazingly sturdy.

I also really like the wireless range of this headset. I can walk around my entire office, which means I’m hundreds of feet away, and take calls even through walls. This is super handy for when you’re on a call and need to run and grab a print job, or hop into a huddle room or conference room for privacy. 

This headset’s beauty is in its simplicity. After initial setup and hook up, it’s so amazing to handle calls between three different devices with wireless ease  — without the corded headset tangled mess or need to switch between earpieces.

Conclusion

The Plantronics 8220 stands out in every way it should. This includes:

✅Easy to set up and use

✅Amazing battery life

✅Fantastic call performance — both for you and those you’re calling

✅Long-range Bluetooth that lets you walk around your office and stay connected

No matter if you’re an office worker who calls others down the hall or across the country via your deskphone, or someone who goes between their mobile and desktop conferencing solutions like ReachUC, GoToMeeting, Zoom and others, this headset will add value to your work setup. 

*Like all products Jason Harris is reviewing, this device is available in the SkySwitch store, accessible through the SkySwitch Reseller Dashboard.

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