There's no shortage of VoIP office phone/devices out there. While it's easy to get caught up in the craze of getting the newest or most popular options, users should be sure they’re choosing the best phones and devices for their system/service. This means considering every option, even those that may be unfamiliar.
One: Polycom IP 335
Why it's underrated: The IP 335, priced at approx. $104.99, is the base model for many business VoIP service offerings. Many providers give the option to upgrade to the IP 550, which itself is being phased out in favor of color phones; however, the IP 335 still has all the goods. Most importantly, it has the same HD Voice as the more expensive models. This two line phone is enough for many small businesses to use for all of their calls, and makes a great primary or secondary phone.
Two: Panasonic KX-TGP500
Why it's underrated: This Panasonic device, priced at approx. $164.99, bears more of a resemblance to your cordless phone at home than it does your typical office phone, but it's a spectacular device. The LCD screen is large, and the controls on the screen are handled by a tiny joystick. The base station is a simple black device that can be mounted on a wall or hidden out of view. The model comes with one handset, and can support up to six handsets and up to eight inbound DID numbers; each base station can handle three outside calls at one time, and the handsets have an intercom system. You don't need to be working a construction site to enjoy the benefits of this phone.
Three: Snom 870
Why it's underrated: Though it may not be the first name in VoIP hardware, the Snom 870, priced at approx $259.99, has many of the same touch screen features as better known devices such as Polycom’s VVX series. The Snom 870 blends cosmetic appeal and function sporting a TFT touch screen display, which can be used to dial the right person or even click-and-drag to begin conference calls. Additionally, it can also be connected to Wi-Fi via USB.
Four: Ooma Office (Not Yet Available to the Public)
Why it's underrated: After making their mark on the residential market, Ooma has expanded to the small office/home office (SoHo) market in 2013. The Ooma Office package includes the main hub, which also serves as a wireless router, and many of the same features as other VoIP providers’ services. While Ooma is not known for their office outings as of yet, this package has a low startup cost (initial cost of $250 for office hub and two included Linx devices, then calling plans are $19.99 per line) and doesn't require buying expensive new VoIP phones; therefore, it may grow more popular in the future. Additionally, instead of VoIP phones, subscribers use their traditional PSTN phones to hook up either directly to the hub or to the linx devices, which are plugged in to the wall for power, and connect wirelessly in order to make calls. While this helps lower initial costs, it does present a particular disadvantage. In using PSTN phones to operate, the service lacks some advantages of VoIP—e.g. HD Voice. While there are a number of benefits to gain, only time will tell if Ooma can become as big as their competitors.
Five: The Apple iPad Mini
Why it's underrated: While the Apple iPad gets plenty of attention for Facetime, the iOS platform is capable of running hundreds of other VoIP apps, including those provided by major VoIP providers like Nextiva, and RingCentral. In pairing iOS with an enterprise-quality headset, you can make calls worthy of running any business. For example, when running these apps, users can have all outbound calls give the appearance of calling from a business number, and direct all inbound calls to your business number to your iPad Mini. You could reasonably run a business primarily from your iPad. With that in mind, devices like the lower-cost iPad Mini (only $439.98 at a major online retailer) fuel the demand for BYOD policies. It's hard to overstate the potential of this nifty little device.
There you have it. Except for the Ooma Office Package, all these devices are available at major VoIP retailers. As with all short lists, no one can be exhaustive; however, these devices are a good place to start. I'd love to hear about your experience with a VoIP-enabled device that you thought the world passed by but you loved. Please leave your comments below.