Gigaset SIP/DECT Handsets For 2010: Part 5 – S79H

Thus far in this series I’ve looked at things common to all the Gigaset handsetsthe A58HC59H and S67H. This time I’m examining the S79H.

The S79H has actually become my favorite of the five Gigaset handsets that I’ve tried. My challenge now is to describe how it came to earn that honor.

You may look around and find it offered as part of the S790 or S795 DECT systems. These include a DECT base that provide only an analog line interface and are not SIP capable.

Like the C59H, the S79H is only being offered in North America as an expansion handset. It can be used in conjunction with any existing A580IP or S675IP system.

One of the two new handsets introduced for 2010, the S79H is very much an upgraded version of the S67H that I described in the last installment. They are in many ways very similar, yet the S79H features numerous enhancements.

Part of what makes the S79H attractive is that it’s being offered for around $70, which is similar to the price of the older S67H model.

The physical improvements to the handset are perhaps the most obvious. The buttons on the handset remain plastic but are now metal plated. While this seems like a small thing it imparts a much enhanced impression of the handset as a high-quality device.

Like the C59H, there is now a dedicated mic mute button in the lower right position on the keypad.

Whereas all the prior models offered control of volume by way of the rocker switch under the LCD display, the S79H also has volume up/down buttons conveniently located on the right side of the handset. This is a much more natural location for these controls, making it easier to adjust volume while on a call without taking the handset away from your ear.

The S79H supports a wired headset. The standard 2.5mm headset jack is located on the lower left side of the handset, and is provided with a soft plastic cover to keep it dust-free when not used.

Removing the back of the handset you’ll find a pair of AAA sized NiMH batteries rated at 700 mAh. These are said to deliver 180 hours of standby time or 13 hours of talk time. That is, plenty…and then some.

Having removed the back of the handset you’ll see a hidden but significant new feature; a mini USB port. The S79H can be connected to a PC running the Gigaset QuickSync program for Windows. I’ll have more about that a bit later.

I’m told that the LCD display on the S79H has the same specifications as that found in the S67H. That is, a 1.8 inch TFT LCD capable of 128 x 160 pixels, operating at 16 bit color depth (aka 65,000 colors) and capable of displaying 8 lines of text. However, to my eye the display on the S79H looks significantly better.

It’s very difficult to show this clearly as taking high-quality photographs of small LCD displays is not especially easy, or my forte. Of the two displays shown above the S79H is on the left and the S67H on the right. I selected the intercom menu on both and have adjusted them in Photoshop to be a lifelike as possible.

I’ve tried to shoot both so as to achieve and accurate rendition of the display, but they both bloom a bit. Honestly, none of the pictures that I’ve taken do it justice.

The two handsets offer very different sets of predefined color schemes for the handset UI.  I note that the color schemes on the S67H use light backgrounds whereas those on the S79H use light type on dark backgrounds. It may just be that color schemes in the S79H are more appealing, or suit that LCD display.

Whatever the case, the S79H simply looks better to me.

Just as the better display the defining improvement in the C59H over the A58H, the better display becomes for me a central attraction in the S79H. The addition of the USB port and access to the Gigaset Quick Sync software further extends the scope of what you can do with the improved display.

While the S79H comes with a number of preloaded ring-tones, it has fewer than the S67H. Fear not, there’s a good reason for this. Why consume memory by pre-loading a lengthy list of goofy melodies when the USB connectivity allows you to upload ring tones from your PC?

My first use of the Quick Sync software was to upload a custom ring-tone. In my case, a recording of Shadow, our Labrador Retriever, barking. I also loaded his picture. As with the S67H, a handful of generic little pictures come preloaded.

…which brings me to the contact list. As with the previous models you can import/export contacts (vcards) using the web GUI. The S79H has greater memory, supporting 500 contact entries, twice as many as the S67H.

The contacts may be organized into VIP groups, like friends, family, co-workers, etc. Each VIP group can be assigned a different ring-tone. So when family calls me I hear Shadow barking. In contrast, when a business call comes in I hear a more typical, standard phone ring.

Another capability presented by the USB port and the associated Quick Sync software is the ability to sync the phones contact list with Microsoft’s Outlook or Outlook Express. To date I’ve only tinkered with this in passing. However, I’ll go into a little more detail later in the series with a post dedicated to profiling the Quick Sync software.

As I stated at the outset, the S79H is very similar to the S67H, but improved in many ways. Perhaps the biggest single improvement is in its basic responsiveness to keypad activity. The S79H has none of the sluggishness that plagues the S67H.

In the S79H, Gigaset seems to have used a more capable hardware platform. I feel that this alone is sufficient reason to make the S79H the handset that you select when expanding an existing system.

The Gigaset S79H is truly a pleasure to use. In fact, we are purchasing a couple more to replace the A58H handsets that we’ve been using around our house this past year. The A58Hs will be demoted to lesser applications, like adding a handset on the workbench in our garage.

Next in this series I’ll be describing the top-of-the-line SL78H handset

Pros:

  • Improved color graphical LCD display
  • Improved response to keypad & menu activity
  • Supports wired headsets
  • 500 item contact list can be uploaded from a vcard file
  • User loadable screen saver pics, caller ID pics & ring tones
  • Good battery life
  • Very good cordless range

Cons:

  • I’d wish this handset was sold as part of a starter package with an IP-capable  DECT base.
  • Bill

    Hi Michael, Does this or the SL78H support a Music on Hold server or extension like the Polycom and Sipura IP phones? I wish Gigaset/Siemens would wake up and release one or both of these phones with IP base station package too. Then ECO mode (battery life) would be supported too! Also I wish these two phones would support 1000 Outlook contact sync but at least it has ringtone support.

    • No, I don’t believe that a MOH server is supported. I’m not so sure about your reference to ECO mode. Basic ECO mode is supported, but ECO+ mode is not. However, the battery life on these things is outstanding even with ECO mode disabled. I’m not certain that added battery life is a strong argument.

      Further, when you enable the ECO modes you encounter some side effects. The cordless range drops even with ECO mode. If you enable ECO+ mode then call setup time for incoming calls is extended to allow the radio link to be re-established.

      • Bill

        Oh, I was not aware there are two ECO modes. That’s good to know it supports the one mode at least and batt liffe is good nonetheless. I like the use of standard rechargeable AAA batteries too. I have some 850mAh AAA’s sitting right here so you would think there should be possibility of extending talk/standby time another 15%+ (cool) just by swapping the batts. Hey Siemens/Gigaset, if you’re listening, implement MOH Server support! on your IP base stations.

        • It’s completely understandable that these devices DON’T support an MOH server. They are, after all, consumer products…not enterprise SIP phones. Would a home typical user have a MOH server? I doubt it.

          That’s the dangerous thing about this kind of product. They’re very good, and that lets us apply them beyond the scope of installation intended by the manufacturer. When we eventually find that they lack some feature we need they get criticized. Such criticism can be unfair because we are using the device well outside it’s intended application.

          That said, if it’s not difficult to do perhaps Gigaset might include it in their development plans. I’d certainly understand if they deemed it inappropriate.

          • Debi Lee

            Eco Mode Plus isn’t available in North America due to the different frequencies allowed. Gigaset North America has been said that they’re going to correct some misinformation listed on their websites and remove mention of Eco Mode Plus soon.

  • tomvtnyc

    Thanks for the great posts. I purchased a 795 with four 79H handsets about a week ago and so far I have found it to be a great product with only a few quirks.

    I agree that they have covered the basics – great sound quality and easy of use for the basic features. I’m not sure I needed the 795 as my base station because I use Vonage network voicemail. The 79H accommodates network voicemail nicely. The only quirk is that even with the 795H, if you are on a call when another call comes in and you push the voicemail, it will send the second caller to the 795 rather than the network voicemail.

    Quicksync was a little quirky but I finally got it to work. The manuals for both Quicksync and the 79H say you must program your international dialing codes and local area codes for the products to work. However, when I synched, all my contact phone numbers had extra area codes added to them, which rendered them useless. I have since deleted the international codes and area codes from the Quciksync and the phones and the problem appears solved.

    The system is pretty good at allowing for the transfer of entries in the directory of one phone to be transferred to another, but their does not appear to be a way to ask the phones to stay synched. Also when a directory entry is transferred to other phones on the system the receiving phone does not get images or ring tones associated with those entries on the original phone.

    Regarding music on hold, I was surprised to find that there is no way to use any audio file other than the default file provided with the 79H. Given the ability to upload ring tones I would have thought that is an easy feature. I suspect it could be easily addressed in a firmware update. I only care because I don’t happen to like the default music.

    Overall it is an impressive product. I did look at the B&O system which looked interesting but I couldn’t justify spending 4x without a sense that it would be significantly better.

    Anyway, great posts.

    Tom

    • HJay

      ” I have since deleted the international codes and area codes from the Quciksync and the phones and the problem appears solved.”

      Please tell me how you deleted the international codes. Am going round in circles, would really like to delete everything and start again but I can’t find a way of doing this?

      Any help much appreciated

      HJay

  • dallaswoolley

    Hello Gents
    Hope you don’t mind me jumping in on your thread. I just bought a few Gigaset phones, the C470IP and SL37H handset. I then purchased the S79H via Amazon as it is not available through retailers here in Australia. Prior to purchasing I checked the compatibility of the S79H on the Gigaset web site with the C470IP and it indicated they are compatible. I received the S79H in the mail today and so have tried to register it with the C470IP base station however it doesn’t pick it up. Registration fails. I am wondering whether you have any suggestions on why this might be and if there is a resolution? I have called the Gigaset help line here in Australia and no staff answering the phones at the moment – I have left a voice message for them to call me back. If you can shed some light on this problem I would be greatly appreciative.
    Thanks
    Dallas
    Brisbane Australia

    • Ford Prefect

      Hello Dallas,

      if you have bought your C470IP and the SL37H in Australia/Europe and the S79H in the US it is likely that the devices operate on different Frequency’s ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Digital_Enhanced_Cordless_Telecommunications#Technical_development_and_adoption ). And that means that you can’t register the Gigaset C470IP (1.88 GHz–1.90 GHz) and the S79H (1.92 GHz–1.93 GHz) 🙁

      Regards
      Ford

      • Good catch Ford! The US has what is called DECT 6.0 standards whereas ROW (rest of world) uses different frequencies. Not only is that inconvenient, but it makes using the US gear technically illegal elsewhere.

        In 2008 I imported an S685IP system from the UK and used it for a few months before passing it to an associate back in the UK

  • Forest

    An amazon reviewer says the S79H always tries to use the POTS line when redialing, even when it is not set as the default line. Can anyone confirm or refute this problem?

    http://www.amazon.com/review/RO8HD0Y68TCTG/

    • This is certainly not the our experience. We have them registered with several voip accounts. Redial works in all cases. When we also had them using the POTS line to connect to the Gigaset One Bluetooth device we had no issues relating to redial.

  • Rusty

    Can the S79H be directly paired with a bluetooth cell phone (without requiring a base station)?

    • Ah, no. That won’t work. It’s a DECT phone that supports Bluetooth for the purposes of the wireless headset and uploading contacts.

  • Al

    Michael – I just purchased the S675IP along with an Extra S67H handset and an S79H handeset just to see what the differences are and which works better. I agree that the S79H feels heftier and has better graphics. My problem is that, after initially working fine, the S79H will no longer dial out on the land line (I’m not using a VOIP account at this time) but will receive calls from external as well as from other intercoms on the system. I’ve tried re-registering but that doesn’t seem to help. Any ideas on what the problem might be?

  • Nearsited

    Beautiful series. Thank you. Your amazon link = “S79H for S795”. Is there any diff in S79H for A580IP?

    • You can register any model handset to any base. The upper model handsets, like the S79H, have a mini-usb connector so that you can update their firmware independent of the base. That’s very handy.

      I’ve had several base systems; A580IP, S675IP & C610IP. At one time or another I’ve used all models of handsets sold in the US with these.

  • Nearsited

    Never mind. One of the reviewers actually attached this unit to an A580ip.