Our ISP offers a free VOIP service along with providing access to (pretty crappy) ADSL. We had an old VOIP box (an Open Networks 812L) sitting in a box that used to work but despite my best efforts I’ve been unable to get it working again. Cue my recent power problems and once I’d sorted those out I thought it was time to have one more go getting the 812L to work.
A couple of hours later and I’d failed. No matter what I tried I just couldn’t get into the web management console for the device because I couldn’t work out what the IP address of the device was. I dimly remember that the device had an in-built DHCP server so I even plugged it into a laptop in the hope it would give the laptop an IP address. Fail. Installed a port scanner and tried to determine the IP address that way. Fail. OK, pressed the hard reset button on the 812L…..and that did exactly nothing. So I gave up in disgust and consigned the unit to the bin.
The next step was to spend 20 minutes reading some VOIP oriented forums and looking at the IP phones that my ISP supported. Based on what I’d read and what my ISP supported I decided on a Siemens Gigaset C610A IP. This is a DECT IP phone with a built in answering machine (that’s what the A in the model number means). It allows you to use two different VOIP lines AND the standard analog line. I bought one for about $190 (can anyone say Australian rip-off….they can be had for half this price in the USA) and a few days later the phone showed up. Here’s what it looks like on my desk:
The box the machine came in included the handset, the charging base for the handset, the base unit, a belt clip for the handset, some rechargeable AA batteries, two power units, a skimpy instruction manual and a CD of software they never expect anyone to use. The base unit plugs into a router and into the phone line. The handset / charger can sit anywhere I’d imagine. Setting up the unit was a doddle. Once I’d plugged the base unit into my router it grabbed an IP address and informed me via the handset that it wanted to download a firmware update. This was done in a few minutes. Then it was simply a matter of logging into the web management console of the phone and entering my ISP assigned IP phone number and passwords. 5 minutes later it was all done and I could make calls. The voice quality of which were excellent.
The handset seems to be nicely designed as does the software it runs. The handset offers much online integration to services like eBay, Facebook and news/weather services. I am not sure how much use these would be with the titchy little colour screen but I guess some people *might* use them. The unit also has the usual myriad selections for ringtones and message tones. There’s also the capability to assign different tones depending on the phone call source (for example from different VOIP lines and the analog phone lines). I’ve not spent too much time playing with this side of things though.
Given my recent run of bad luck with hardware this phone has been a pleasant surprise. I felt cheated somehow that it only took me 10 minutes to get it working and was sure it was going to be harder. But it wasn’t. So, the Gigaset C610A IP phone is, for ease of setup alone, highly recommended.