I was also curious to see which functions reside in the DECT base vs the A58H handsets. For example, the A580IP doesn’t provide a voicemail facility. Voicemail is a function that is implemented in the base of the S675IP system. Instead, the A580IP allows you to setup a dialing string to be used when fetching messages for each SIP account. Since we prefer that our ITSPs email our messages we didn’t miss having VM built-in.
In contrast, the handsets feature a built-in music-on-hold function. When you do something that causes a call to be suspended, like a hook-flash transfer, the handset generates a MIDI-like melody to the other party. This might be cute on your home line but was entirely inappropriate for my office lines. Happily, this “feature” is easily defeated on a per handset basis.
Of course, one of the major attractions of the A580IP was the fact that it supports wideband calling using the same G.722 codec found in my Polycom desk phones. Gigaset refers to this as HDSP for “High Definition Sound Performance.” Once registered with my OnSIP account I enjoyed wideband calls to my employers SoundPoint IP450/550/650 desk phones scattered across the UK & US.
Making wideband calls requires that the call path remain IP end-to-end, entirely bypassing the PSTN. That means not dialing normal e.164 phone numbers. In the case of our hosted IP-PBX I could dial a simple four-digit extension corresponding to other IP phone. A wideband call would result if the other phone also supported G.722.
Once able to make wideband calls it was only natural to compare the call quality of the A580IP to my Polycom desk phones. Though the A58H handsets sound really good, my sense is that the Polycom’s do sound better, especially when comparing speakerphone modes. However, let’s be fair. You can buy three A580IP systems for the price of one IP650.
No doubt some would ask the question, “Can inexpensive hardware like the A580IP deliver the promise of wideband calling?”
You should make up your own mind. Here are a few sample recordings made with the A580IP. Not really knowing what to use as an example, I simply read the manufacturers description of HDSP as found on the Gigaset blog several times, recording each as I went.
- Baseline G.711 recording made using the A58H handset
- Wideband G.722 recording made using the A58H handset
- Wideband G.722 recording made using the A58H in speakerphone mode
In making these recordings I deliberately read fairly quickly, and took steps to minimize the background noises in my office. Note that the G.711 call sounds muted and dull. In contrast, both wideband recordings are much easier to understand.
My wife especially likes the speakerphone feature. This, in combination with the fact that the A58H will stand stable on its end is very convenient. Standing it upright optimally orients the microphone toward the person speaking.
One thing to note about the A58H handset is that it does not accommodate a headset of any kind. If you need a wired headset then you should be looking at the middle-of-the-range S67H handset, while those wanting a Bluetooth headset should consider the top-end SL78H handset. You can add either of these as optional expansion handsets to the base A580IP system.