New Series: Gigaset SIP/DECT Systems Overview

siemens-a580ip-240For several years, certainly as long as I have been writing this blog, I have been hunting for a better cordless IP telephony solution for my home office. Cordless mobility is increasingly a critical feature for home office and small business users. While we have a satisfactory solution in place at the moment, there’s certainly room for improvement.

Siemens, a multi-national company headquartered in Germany, has a new subsidiary called Gigaset US specifically to market some of their range of consumer electronics in North America. This new company is headquartered in Dallas, Texas.

While Siemens consumer electronics range is vast, well established and highly regarded, Gigaset US is initially focusing on bringing some of their consumer SIP/DECT phones to the US market. This fact was the basis of a CES press release announcing that the A580IP & S675IP models were to be the initial offering.

To bring these devices into the US the company needed to make revisions to meet US regulatory standards, which includes operating at different frequencies than European DECT standards. All the while the US company has been working on establishing a marketing strategy and building a sales channel.

All of this effort is about to start bearing fruit as Gigaset US has recently provided us with a range of samples for evaluation. This article is the first in a series that will outline our experience using these devices over the past month or two.

At the outset let me 100% clear, these Gigaset systems are consumer products. They are intended for use by a broad range of people with no specific VoIP experience. That said, SIP/DECT systems are ideally positioned for use in small businesses and home office applications.

The attractions brought by the Gigaset systems are many, but key amongst them are:

  • SIP capable, supporting up to 7 active SIP registrations
  • PSTN capable, providing one FXO for connection to an analog line
  • Easy initial setup
  • CATiq based wideband audio capability
  • Excellent wireless range and battery life
  • Ability to provision contact directories to the handsets
  • Simple integration with external data sources via RSS

Gigaset sent two complete systems including multiple handsets for evaluation. These two system reflect the various product offerings in the CES press release. I’ll describe them in order, ascending up the range, then a bit more comparatively. The items to be considered are as follows:

  • A580IP System – a DECT base with entry level A58H handsets
  • S675IP System – a DECT base with full-featured S67H handsets
  • S78H – a high-end handset offered as optional expansion to either of the base systems

…more to follow.

  • Michael,

    Nice summing up of the qualities of these phones. As you know, I’ve had mine for a long time and we love it for our small business. It will be interesting to see exactly how the product line does in the USA, but as we’ve often discussed, I think Siemens will need value-added resellers to make sure the public get their money’s worth out of these great phones.

    Siemens also seems to be listening to users, as we noted here: http://tr.im/smute

  • Small note: Gigaset isn’t Siemens anymore, it is on its own.

  • Brian

    They must not want to sell any of these because I don’t see them on amazon or newegg.

    • Au contrair, would they have distributed samples to people like myself if they were not going to be sold? Sometimes things are simply delayed. If you look at

      http://www.8774e4voip.com/Gigaset_A580_IP_p/gigaset-a580-ip.htm

      You’ll see that they are taking advance orders. I’m told that they have stock en route from the manufacturer. So it’s just a matter of a week or two.

  • Chris Melvile

    Got one of these based on your favourable impressions, and generally l like it. However the Bluetooth on the handsets is terrible, really not fit for purpose. Using my Southwing headset, which works great on my mobile and PC, people I call keep advising of all sorts of distortion and bad voice quality. As soon as I switch back to the handset itself, it’s fine.

    Also some suggestions:

    1) having switched to the BT headset, it would be useful to be able to make multiple calls on the handset without having to keep connecting/disconnecting the headset.

    2) These phones are ideal for SOHO use. But they need a way to stop kids/spouses picking up business calls, which could be done by requiring a PIN to be entered before picking up a call. Each handset/VoiP account combination would have it’s own (optional) PIN.

    3) When the handsets go into “sleep mode” the first number you enter when next dialling gets eaten up without being accepted. I keep forgetting this and dialling wrong numbers because of it. It’s annoying.

    4) It would be nice to have an HTTP-based API on the base station, capable of performing anything you can do with a handset. That would allow some automation without a full blown PBX like Asterisk.

    I actually bought two sets, one for me, one for someone else. We both use the same VoIP providers. On mine, the message waiting indicators work fine. On the other one, they’ve been flashing since I first set them up (the same config, except for a different VoIP account no/passcode) and I cannot find any way to stop it, despite there being no VoIP service messages or missed calls in the call list!

    I’ve read you have a direct link to Gigaset, perhaps you could pass all of the above on.

    Cheers,
    Chris

    • Your point #2 seems easily addressed by having more than one handset and having your business line ring on the office handset. That’s what we do around here. The PIN code idea seems cumbersome and problematic.

      You’re point #3 I noted in my review of the A580IP. I’ve yet to put mich milage on the SL78H yet so I cannot comment on the Bluetooth issue. That said, I’ve yet to find a Bluettoth headset that was worth using.

      I’ve been forwarding all comments to the product manager at Gigaset. Also, he’s be active on the VoIP Tech Chat forum over at http://www.broadbandreports.com.

  • Gigaset_Man

    Chris,

    What part of the world are you in?

    BT and 1) I will do some research on what you reported. In the meantime, here are some links on the Gigaset website that talk about Blue Tooth and headsets.

    http://gigaset.com/shc/0,1935,hq_en_0_153095_rArNrNrNrN,00.html
    http://gigaset.com/shc/0,1935,hq_en_0_154199_rArNrNrNrN,00.html
    http://gigaset.com/shc/0,1935,hq_en_0_154204_rArNrNrNrN,00.html

    2) Michael took the words out of my mouth… (or away from my typing fingers…).
    3) You can turn off the screensaver and avoid that behavior.
    4) That is a little beyond the scope of these devices, but some great input for future product planning. Thanks for the recommendation.

    blinking MWI – Were you prompted to upgrade firmware or to start the VoIP connection assistant? These two items will also cause the MWI to blink.

  • Chris Melvile

    Hi guys,

    Wow thanks for those responses!

    Firstly, I’m in Australia.I have a “naked DSL” service (syncs at 8mbps/1mbps, QoS not yet set up, but very light internet use anyway) which includes a VoIP service, and also have a separate VoIP service with someone else. I have 6 handsets, some set to one service, some to the other, and some to both.

    I had been using a Billion 7404VGOM VoIP router with two integrated ATAs, each connected to a cheap DECT base station/handsets, and that always worked fine. I am experiencing more glitches since I changed to a plain ADSL router plus the Gigaset and am still trying various things. The basic VoIP parameters are set as advised by the ISP and as they were on the Billion, eg. codecs set to G.729, then G.711 a-law, then G.711 u-law.

    Hope that describes the scenario sufficiently.

    Further to 1) just to let you know I’ve tried changing codecs on the handset in case it’s a transcoding issue, but it didn’t really help. I’m also going to try other hardware, and will read those links – thanks for that!

    About 2), I should have been more clear – it’s for common handsets. Of course you don’ t need it where handsets aren’t physically accessible to “un-authorised persons”, but if you have dual-purpose handsets around the house (as I’d have thought many will, so you don’t miss business calls when not in your home office room) then the problem arises. Having a way to stop unauthorised persons answering business calls (but not personal) is less “cumbersome and problematic” than having teenagers being rude to your customers, having to constantly move handsets around, or having a full blown Asterisk server to answer calls onto hold until a handset picks up and enters the right DTMF passcode.

    Which reminds me, an account-specific distinctive ring would also be very useful. That is, business calls ring one way, personal calls ring another. I know you can manually set handsets to use different ring tones but, again, oftentimes one handset will field multiple call types.

    About 3), thanks I’ll try that, but it seems a shame to lose the screensavers. I was planning to set up my own info service for the handsets as described elsewhere.

    4) – yes I thought you’d say that! :o)

    MIW – no, neither of those things. However it has now stopped happening, though I have no idea why – I haven’t done anything that I didn’t try before (deleting all message service messages and clearling call list) . Maybe it updated its firmware.

    Anyway thanks once more – this is a great site (and I didn’t mean to treat it as a tech support forum, so sorry for that!) and it’s fantastic that Gigaset is taking an active interest in what their customers think.

    Cheers!

  • Chris Melvile

    EDIT: ah I see you have an auto-smiley feature!

  • Tim Trautmann

    I just found one of the A580 IP at BestBuy and purchased one. However I am having a hard time finding additional A58H handsets. Anyone know where to purchase these in North America? I can’t reach Gigaset North America. The tech support line that is printed in the manual does just ring and nobody answers. The website is equally useless.

    • I’d be surprised if any retailers carry them. I know that E4 Technologies has them.

      You know that you can mix & match Gigaset handsets against the DECT base? The S67H handset has a headset jack and a color display. The SL78H has a gorgeous color display and bluetooth capability.

  • spudz72

    I own an A580IP and have 5 extra handsets with it (1 A58H, and 4 S67H). I’ve used a lot of Voip phones and this one is by far the best bang for the buck! The only feature that I really wish this phone had (as Mgraves wrote above) is the line specific distinctive ring feature! This would be a killer feature. I use the phone for multiple business lines and also my home number as well with multiple sip accounts. The only problem is when the phone rings for my business the person (my wife in this case) always has to walk over to the phone and if she she’s my business name she ignores the call as I am the only one to answer business calls. But if I could set a distinctive ring for each line she would know right away if the call coming in was to my business line etc. I wonder if Siemens has suggestion area where I could post this feature request as I’m sure it could be added with a firmware update!