babblevoice and the Polycom VVX

babblevoice has supported the Polycom VVX range of phones for some time now. But apart from pulling them out of their boxes to go through our accreditation procedure, we haven’t actually spent time getting to know them that well. The Polycom Soundpoint range of phones have been our bread and butter for quite some time; is that likely to change in the future?

For a lot of our customers, the Soundpoint 321/331 has been the phone of choice. It has been around a number of years, can be deployed with virtually zero configuration, is physically robust and is the most reliable device we have come across.

Enter the VVX range of phones. This review is of the VVX 300, which is the entry level model – which effectively replaces the Soundpoint 321/331.

The VVX 300 is ever so slightly larger than the 321. The screen is larger, still black and white but is back lit. Some of the higher models in the VVX range have colour screen and even support video. The finish of the VVX is in a more modern sleek black plastic and feels very robust which was one of the things we liked about the Soundpoint range. Like all of the VVX range, but only some of the Soundpoint range (and certainly not the 321), it carries an HD Voice logo, more about that below.

Like all things technology, after unboxing it, I was keen to plug it in. Configuring the Zero Touch feature with babblevoice is as easy as it was with the Soundpoint range. But after plugging it in (which is all end users should need to do), it powered up, but not much else. After getting a second unit, it did the same thing. Not a great start. I moved to another switch and it worked fine. After a little support dance with Polycom it turns out there is an issue with the switch I was plugging it into (DLink DGS 1008P), the phone needs a tweak to get it to work with this switch. The fix worked very nicely.

Moving from the Soundpoint range all the buttons are very recognizable, so using the device is not an issue. After the modern finish to the phone I have noticed 2 main differences between the 2 devices:

  1. The Polycom 321 has 2 line buttons, both of which can be used for different extensions or the same extension but making it easier to handle calls.
  2. The Polycom VVX 300 has 6 soft line buttons. Which is a big increase. These can be assigned to your extensions. I have 2 assigned to my extension which makes it easy to handle multiple calls. The remaining 4 grab the first 4 extensions in my babblevoice domain and displays them as shortcuts along with the status of the extension (available, on the phone etc).

I am confident this hasn’t meant we have wasted our time developing the babblevoice Desktop, which gives a much easier to use dashboard for telephony in the business, however it does give a good overview of the 4 most important people in the business just from the phone which adds a nice amount of usability. The second large advantage is that HD Voice comes on all models, including the entry level model VVX 300. This is a large improvement. It was crazy Polycom did not include this on the 321 as all their competitors release HD Voice on all models in their ranges.

The sound quality when you have a call with someone else who has it is like going from an analogue phone (the old fashion type – which a lot of modern VOIP phones are modelled on!) to a CD (or MP4 download). The distinction is massive. For those in the know, it is going from 8 bit audio to 16 bit audio.

At the time of writing the VVX is still £30 more expensive per item which is £58 for the 321. If you are deploying a large number of phones (or even 10) it adds up. If it were my money, I would pay the extra. You will probably own these devices for a while and the Soundpoint range is a little old now.

The babblevoice team

By Antoine Lever, Jun 23, 2015