Polycom's mix of IP phones hits the high notesFollow @pvenezia
Configuring each phone for use with Asterisk was a snap; all I had to do was change a few lines in the phone-specific configuration to note the Asterisk server address and assign extension, extension secret, and the text to display on the phone itself. The rest of the phone’s configuration is handled via DHCP (Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol) or by hard-coding the parameters within the phone itself. Using DHCP to deliver the required data is very simple, requiring that a few options be defined with the IP address of the FTP or TFTP server. As long as the required files exist on that server, all is well.
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As far as call quality goes, the IP 650 is simply stellar. In fact, this is one of the best-sounding VoIP handsets I’ve ever used, with any codec. The noise cancellation is superb, and at times a little unsettling because the silence is so silent you begin to wonder if the call has been disconnected. On the downside, the default ring tones are annoying; only the lone sampled ring isn’t terrible. There are slots for many more custom sampled ring tones though, so anything you can distill into a sample can be used. The message waiting light on the IP 650 works perfectly with Asterisk, as does the messaging menu on the LCD screen. (Here I might point out that my Cisco 7970 still doesn’t properly handle a SIP message waiting signal.) Also, the IP 650 handled the long-cable-run PoE test better than any other phone I’ve tried, including the Cisco 7960. Whereas the 7960 would power up but eventually flake out, the IP 650 works flawlessly.
The IP 650 can also run custom applications to deliver corporate directories, interactive services, and the like right to the phone, using the built-in XHTML browser. The browser is relatively finicky though, and warnings in the documentation tell tales of phones rebooting and locking up when parsing invalid XHTML syntax.
The Polycom SoundPoint IP 650 is a solid, well-rounded VoIP handset that will not disappoint. At $449 MSRP, it’s also cheaper than many high-end VoIP phones.
SoundStation IP 4000 SIP conference phone
The SoundStation IP 4000 speakerphone shares much with its analog brethren, including the distinctive boomerang shape and optional outboard microphone pods, but inside it’s a whole new ballgame. The IP 4000 runs the same SIP code as the IP 650 and others in the Polycom line, so the options are standard and the configuration process is essentially the same. A few differences belie the fact that the IP 4000 is a slightly older device than the IP 650 sets, however. These are small things, such as different DHCP option defaults and option patterns, but they can be puzzling when trying to figure out why the phone isn’t booting properly.