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Retiring snom’s m3 From Our Home Line

snom_m3_persp_1_typo3_032Since mid-October the snom m3 has been the only phone on our home account. That’s when the old Panasonic KSU finally breathed its last gasp. I’ve been using one of the snom handsets in my office since they arrived in January. In general I’m pleased with the device. It does what I need and it’s been reliable.

About a week ago my wife came to me with one of the little snom m3 cordless handsets in her hand. She wasn’t mad, but she said that the little phone is source of frustration, and she’d like me to replace it on the home line.

I probed a little to get to the reason for her frustration. She said that “it was not a bad phone.” But the keypad is too smooth and it causes her to misdial a lot. So I should get something where the keypad buttons are a little raised and separated. She should be able to dial by feel, not needing to look at the handset.

In fact, she’s right. It’s just an ergonomic aspect of the handset that I’d not considered before. It’s a little like a touch typist preferring a certain keyboard.

So for the moment we’ll be using the m3 on my office lines only.

This all comes back to something from a post I wrote over a year ago arguing that cordless phones are not cellular phones. The trend in manufacturers adopting the cellular phone form factors for cordless phones is in many ways misguided. But it continues nonetheless.

Consider the three phones in the following image; the handset from a Panasonic KX-TG4500, Siemens S685 and a snom m3. All three are shown proportionally in size.


The snom is the only one where the buttons are smooth and seamless. The other two have buttons slightly raised and therefore also separated. It’s easier to dial the other two with one hand or without looking at the handset.

The Siemens has its own problem as the phones reaction to each keypress is a little sluggish. If you’re expecting to hear a tone immediately on each keypress then the S685 can be frustrating as well. Lack of a mute function is a killer as described previously.

IMHO only the Panasonic handset would suffer being dropped without incurring serious damage. It’s curious that Panasonic, a company that so dominated cordless phones for the past decade, would seem to almost completely avoid VoIP as it evolved its product line. This has left an opening for other players to exploit.

Earlier this week offered a Philips DECT phone system with four handsets for $49, cheap enough that I bought one just to give it a try. The Philips phone is not a SIP device so I’ll probably plug it into one of the FXS ports on the Jazinga appliance.


I was needing to buy a couple more snom handsets if it was going to be the long term solution in the house. The Philips phone is a lot cheaper than going that route. The Philips handsets seem likely to pass the spousal approval test.

It’s certainly going to be a drag manually entering all of our friends and family into the contact list on the Philips phones. Both the snom and Siemens phones support upload of a csv file from the web interface.

For business use I still prefer SIP devices to the combination of an FXS interface & cordless phone. For home use either will do.

But then again, we’ll probably only use the Philips phone until something better comes along.

This Post Has 13 Comments
    1. No, I got it from the Woot site. They are at my local Fedex depot. I’ll have them on Monday.

      I am tooling up to shoot more of my own photos. I try to do this as often as possible, especially when a post if being published elsewhere. I’ve worked with TV photogs for many years, even shooting commercials for a supermarket. I need a little more experience (and equipment) for tabletop flash photography.

  1. Was going to ask what gear you had πŸ™‚ Been tinkering with the idea of taking more product type photos now that I have a nice DSLR..

  2. cordless/wireless phones for PBX are so incredibly frustrating. I completely agree with the cell phone imitation problem. The only way to go is Dect, but none of the Dect/SIP phones are any good. They all have something wrong – POE, form factor, price.

    I may just have to head over to Costco and get something like your woot system. My wife is complaining about no cordless phones. The fact that we have a high end enterprise class PBX system in the house doesn’t seem to impress her.

  3. Did you try the RTX sip Dect yet?

    Snom used their firmware for the dect phone but RTX has better form factor for keyboard though bigger handset (not keeping it in your pocket, though I have a cell phone for that anyways).


    1. I have not tried the Dualphone since I have not seen them available in the US. Thus I presume that the SIP version (3081) doesn’t meet US DECT standards. I have seen the Skype specific variant available here, but that is of no interest to me.

      The 3081 is very clearly the reference hardware that Aastra have used to launch their own SIP/DECT range. It matches the MBU400 specs exactly. It also matches the Polycom IP200W that was cancelled last year. Just looking at the brochure I suspect that the handset might overcomes my wife’s basic objection.

  4. Your wife brings up an excellent point that my better half agrees with. Although, for the past year or so I’ve become a check before dialing type of person… where I type in the number, look at it for accuracy, and then hit send. I like to think of it as the measure twice, cut once approach to telecommunications. Since I dial like this, the feel for the dialpad to me is less important as the feel of the phone while talking.

    And that being said, I do really like the snom m3 right now. I have 2 other dect lines hooked to an ATA (spa2102)… one by GE and one by Uniden. The GE is barely usable… bad keypad, has to be reset once a month, etc. The Uniden, great phone. Great to use, reliable, and just a nice addition.

    The thing that intrigues me, is neither of my phones use AA batteries. When you get the phone from FedEx, I’d love to know if those batteries are rechargeable or in addition to a rechargeable.

    Oh, picked up a Speedlite 580 EXII and difuser the other week… great for products πŸ™‚ Should work great with the XSi too. (Shop around though, you can save over 200 bucks from the “best” chain store)

    1. I often gaze over the offering when at Fry’s. They offer a great range of cordless phones for a retailer. And I have been told I have a cordless phone fetish, which I can’t really dispute. I never have liked GE or Uniden cordless phones I’ve seen there. Again, they try to mimic cell phones too much. Panasonic has always made good stuff, but no VoIP integration…except one JOIP/Global Range phone.

      FWIW, the S685 handset uses AAA rechargable batteries. I still like the m3 a lot. It serves me just fine in the office.

  5. Isn’t the QuickPhones QA-342 available now? Not exactly inexpensive though, particularly compared with mainstream DECT phones.

    I’m currently using a multi-handset Panasonic DECT 6.0 setup (KX-TG9344T) with a Zoom 5801 ATA. I’ve used Siemens and Uniden multi-handset systems in the past, and frankly this particular Panasonic product line feels a little ‘cheap’ to me. Though they were, so I shouldn’t be surprised πŸ™‚

    Wish that ‘Siemens IP series available in the US’ rumor would hurry up and come true.. πŸ™‚

    p.s. I can relate to a certain attraction to cordless phones, too πŸ˜‰

  6. Seems as our wifes are in the same club πŸ™‚ – and I can join too. The m3-keypad is a perfect example for form follows design where design follows function would be appropriate. It’s not only the 0-9-keys, I espacially hate the 4way-navigation button – almost unhandable for a person with bigger hands than my daughter has (4 years old).

    The new Aastra DECT MBU 400 seems to have similar small keys.

    I’m thinking about switching my Home-SIP-DECT to Aastra RFP with Aastra 142d-handsets. This is – as far as I know – IMO the only available really professional SIP-DECT-Solution but the price tag is quite heavy.

    1. I’m uneasy about the Aastra 142 handset. It reminds me too much of the handset from a 480iCT, which I still own and one used a lot. Too small, not enough dedicated function keys. Complicated menus. I’ll post pics comparing the Aastra handset vs the m3 later today.

      If you’re looking in that direction I’d look at the 50×0 series from Polycom/Kirk. For example: They also introduced a lower cost DECT base radio this past fall. It’s still costly for home use, but more approachable than prior models.

  7. The 142 handsets are quite “oldfashioned”. No color display, stable, only basic telephony features, but “too small” doesn’t match them. The keys are well separated, I can press them blind, there is immediate audio feedback for a pressed key … A client of us runs about 100 of them in a industrial environment, an other client has about 50 in his retail shop and both are happy with them.

    As this is DECT GAP, it’s possible to connect any GAP-handset.

    I don’t know Aastra 480iCT/57iCT, they’re not sold in Germany.

    I’ve an old Kirk somewhere, H.323 version from my old Cisco Call Manager.

    The market is a shame. The choice is RTX – almost all versions with a tiny keypad or heavy priced solutions like Kirk or Aastra RFP (the latter the only Access Point Solution, Kirk still works with repeaters). Siemens SIP-DECT addresses private users.

    On the other hand no really usable WLAN-Phones. My Nokia E71 can do VoIP over WLAN but enabling WLAN reduces battery runtime to a few hours, same with my Cisco 7920 phones which are WLAN-Phones by Design. Roaming with WLAN-Phones is a joke – as long as there is no proprietary (and heavy priced) roaming solution like Cisco or Aruba or Polycom/Spectralink in the background. Although QuickPhones seems to address the battery runtime-problem they still seem to have roaming problems – after years of discussion about a roaming standard for WLAN (802.11r) but I don’t know any manufacturer which implements it.

    So we’ve a WLAN-Cloud here but we need a second cloud dedicated for telephony. We’ve a full blown building automation that can be controlled via WLAN or Mobile Phone – but if I like to use my (mobile) VoIP-phone for building control I’ve to dial a bunch of virtual extensions – I even implemented a voice menu for building automation because no one is able to remind all this numbers – this sucks, really.

    Give me something like the IPhone but not from Apple, with a VoIP-Client and a battery runtime of at least 12 hours on WLAN, integrated GSM/3G, multitouch, webbrowser etc. and I would be willing to pay a really heavy price for it.

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