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Review: The Polycom SoundStation IP5000 Conference Phone

As good as it is there are a couple of things about the SoundStation IP5000 that I found wanting. I was a little dismayed to find that the IP5000 does not support the call recording function found in the Polycom Productivity Suite. This optional software for the SoundPoint phones includes a range of handy functions, including call recording to a USB memory stick on the SoundPoint IP650.

The fact that I use a hosted IP-PBX makes the ability to record a call right on the phone seriously convenient, and potentially difficult to otherwise achieve. Given the size and shape of the IP5000 it might have been nice to include an SD or even micro-SD memory slot as a way accommodate this feature.

To be fair, the visual conference management and LDAP integration features from the Polycom Productivity Suite are found in the SoundStation IP5000, and not as an optional extra.

The lack of a USB interface points to another feature that I would like to have seen on the IP5000. Ideally a USB interface would permit its use as an audio device for a PC, in a fashion not unlike the Polycom C100. Such capability would have made the IP5000 a good portable solution for road warriors or podcasters, making it a substantially more versatile device.

Finally, I was hoping that that SoundStation IP5000 might have greater depth of support for Polycom’s Siren family of HDVoice codecs (Siren7/14/22, G.722.1 & G.722.1C) This might have provided a little more optimal experience when used in conjunction with the VVX-1500 Business Media Phone, video conferencing services or recent releases of Asterisk.

In truth, these are minor but notable omissions from what is otherwise a very well considered device at an attractive price point.

Polycom SoundStation IP5000

Summary

There simply aren’t very many comparators against which to judge Polycom’s SoundStation IP5000. Most dedicated IP conference phones target larger conference situations, and cost considerably more.

There are a few small conference phones available from lesser known companies, but in this price range these tend to provide only analog or USB interfaces.

More common are the USB attached audio devices for use with PCs. These are often too limited for use beyond one or two people in an office or hotel room. They’re more appropriate for the road warrior use case than fixed installation in a small meeting room or executive office.

Perhaps all this makes the SoundStation IP5000 unique. It’s a small form factor conference phone for fixed installations. It provides the excellent audio performance for which Polycom is known, including G.722 based HDVoice capability…and doesn’t cost a fortune.

I have no doubt that the SoundStation IP5000 is going to be popular, and deservedly so. It’s been a welcome addition to my home office.

Pros:

  • Excellent audio performance
  • Right-sized for a small conference room or executive office
  • Broad support across PBXs & hosted VoIP services
  • HDVoice based upon the G.722 codec
  • Fits seamlessly into an existing Polycom provisioning scheme

Cons:

  • No on-phone call recording
  • Cannot be used directly as USB attached audio device for a PC
  • No support for G.722.1, Siren7, G.722.1C, Siren14, or Siren22
  • Only single line appearance

The web interface is about the same as any of the Polycom SoundPoint phones, except that the IP5000 supports only one line appearance. This fact also limits the number of reboots required as you go about configuring the phone.

Many of the web interface menu options respond only to report that those settings are not relevant to this device.

SIP interoperability has long been a Polycom hallmark. Polycom phones are supported by a diverse range of IP-PBX systems and hosted VoIP providers. During my trial of the SoundStation IP5000 I had it registered with various SIP service providers, including; OnSIP, IdeaSIP, SIPGate & Gizmo5.

All the basic call handling functions of hold, resume, transfer, etc presented no issues. I could even perform a three-way conference on the SoundStation IP5000 itself, without resorting to using a conference bridge.

As you can see from the photo of the IP5000 keypad, the device proudly bears the Polycom HDVoice logo. My initial test calls were to other Polycom phones on my network, specifically SoundPoint IP650 and IP335 models. As expected both ends of the calls displayed the animated “HD” icon, indicating that the phones were providing wideband audio via the G.722 codec.

This Post Has 20 Comments
  1. In reference to your blogging comment:
    Could you use the IP5000 on an Ethernet (with POE brick) to your laptop and make an IP call to it from your favorite G.722 soft phone? Then press the record button on the soft phone and you have the recording without moving an SD card or USB stick around.

    1. True enough, and I have done just that. However, it’s not as convenient as the call record function on my IP650. That same record function is present on the IP7000, and also the Konftel 300IP. Admittedly, both are most costly devices…but still.

  2. Im surprised by the lack of an AC adapter option. Being that one of the target markets for this device is executive offices, I see this device being placed on a small conference table away from their actual desk where POE may have been provisioned for their main phone.

    1. I don’t think that this is a problem. In a bone fide executive office there’s be POE on more than one port. In a small office or home office you’d use a mid-span insertor. They’re only about $40 for a single port model.

        1. Given that there isn’t a place to power the device except the network jack I presume that this AC adapter is a cable & DC source, not unlike what used to be offered for some of the SoundPoint phones. Is that the case?

          When I inquired with a dealer last week they told me that there was a mid-span insertor offered, with a suggested price of $109.

          1. I now see some AC adapters and power cables listed in around the $40 range. I presume that the same unit listed as for the IP300 would also power the IP5000. POE is a great thing, as long as the requirement for the insertor doesn’t catch a newby by surprise.

  3. Now here is what I’d really like to use and haven’t been able to find on the market:

    * a RJ45 wired SIP conference phone with additional USB connector to act as sound device
    * a DECT conference phone with g722 (CAT-iq) wideband (USB would not hurt either)

    1. What you seek actually exists. In the first case (RJ & USB i/f) look at the Konftel 300IP. It also has call recording to an SD card. The DECT cordless units include the Polycom SoundStation 2W and Konftel 200W, but neither support G.722 or USB audio I/O.

      I’ve been told that the Konftel 300 may be the same unit that snom offers as their MeetingPoint model, but the firmware from snom is very different.

      1. Unfortunately the Konftel 300 IP does not have a USB connector. With the Konftel products (like all other manufacturers) it is either USB or RJ45.

      2. The snom MeetingPoint indeed uses the Konftel hardware. The firmware, however, is quite different with 12 instead of 2 SIP accounts, with MS OCS support, LDAP and whatever else you normally have in SNOM firmware. It does not yet support the SD card slot.

  4. IP5000 does NOT have automatic gain control. We have huge problems in conference calls due to that. I am now purchasing both the IP6000 and Knoftel 300IP to check how they work.

    1. Ajay,

      That does seem curious. I would have thought AGC to be a “must-have” feature for a conference phone. I’ve forwarded your comment to the maker for clarification.

      OTOH, we have the SoundStation IP6000 in our Burbank conference room. We’ve not had any problems. It’s a great device.

      Michael

    2. I pinged the product manager about your assertion. Here’s the response from the company:

      As you know, SoundStation IP 5000 has been designed for use in small conference rooms and executive offices. The phone is able to reliably pick-up the voice of a person talking within 7 foot (2.1m) of range even without Automatic Gain Control.

      The far end may experience difficulties hearing a person talking in a conference room, when the person talking is either too far away from the (micro)phone and/or speaking very softly. If testing of the SoundStation IP 5000 (running the latest Polycom UC Software?!) suggests otherwise, there is a chance that at least one of the microphone is defective. The reseller, the customer purchased the phone from, should be Polycom Certified and able to handle this.

      In any case, the SoundStation IP 6000 and the newly released SoundStation Duo have a larger pick-up range and should meet the customer’s requirements.

      This certainly seems sensible. I’ve used my IP5000 in a variety of situations, even took it to the UK with me, and never had such a problem. Yours should be checked to ensure the latest firmware and fully functional mic elements.

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