As it happens, I was travelling last week so not able to attend the VUC call on September 30th that featured Invoxia. Thank goodness for the podcast because their product, the NVX610 certainly looks interesting.
In fact, it’s interesting on many levels. For the past few years there have been a number of people I know who have been seeking a re-imagining of the desk phone. Fellow blogger Dave Michels is one of the more notable folks calling for such an effort.
In exploring the space looking for a solution to our latent desire for a wholly new kind of executive desk phone we’ve been distracted by various things.
Polycom and Aastra have offered higher degrees of programmability of their top-end models like the VVX-1500 and 6739i. While some have found such steps useful in vertical niches, that really hasn’t been the answer we sought. It was an incremental enhancement to otherwise traditional devices.
Grandstream, Cloud Telecomputers and (soon) Panasonic offer tablet-like phones with large, touchscreen LCDs even eschewing the traditional dialpad for the touch interface. While some of these remain very new to the marketplace, they also don’t seem to express the dramatic reimaging of the desk phone that has been discussed.
I do admit that the fact that some of these new devices run Google’s Android operating systems implies that there remains potential for someone to use these devices as a platform to really shake-up the desk phone space. As yet that remains an unrealized potential.
They’ve added a lot of interesting things:
- Two gigabit ethernet ports
- USB-attached wired handset supporting wideband audio
- Bluetooth radio for connection to the iOS device
- DECT base radio (not yet functional in software)
- Support for a diversity of HDVoice codecs, including; G.722, G.722.1, SILK
- 8 speakers & 8 microphones for use in speakerphone mode
That last point is especially interesting as it differentiates the NVX610 from the existing executive desk phones, being readily compared to dedicated conference phones like Polycom’s legendary Soundstation range. Invoxia makes considerable claim about the performance of the device when used as a speakerphone:
In handsfree mode, a conventional desktop phone doesn’t know from which direction sound will be emitted. Indeed, you can move around the phone, and several colleagues can be seated around your desk, and your phone must listen to the whole room, as it is fitted with an omnidirectional mic. Although this allows every person around the phone to be heard, it also captures all the background noise. The person or group you are calling is often disturbed by interference, such as the sound of the air con, or your colleagues whispering at another desk, or even your own typing as you take minutes of the meeting; sounds which the sensitive mic of a standard phone in speaker mode captures.
Thanks to the algorithms developed by our engineers, the 8 mics not only capture the acoustics of the room as a whole but also create a beam in the direction of the speaker, thereby eliminating all superfluous sounds and background noise. This is quite similar to what a soundman does by attaching a boom mic to a pole. Your voice is picked up more intensely, without you having to shout, and you are heard very clearly at the other end of the line.
Their description of beam-forming is right on-the-money, as I have described here previously. It’s a very interesting hardware capability to add to the iOs device.
However, as I’ve also discussed before, even a truly great hardware implementation of acoustic echo cancellation and background noise suppression is a remedial measure. It works to overcome less than ideal pickup of the voice. It can make the convenience of the hands-free function less of a degraded audio experience, but it won’t equal the use of a good handset or headset.
It’s curious that the company is initially targeting the SOHO marketplace. It’s clearly an easy way to get started selling smaller numbers to informed users. Anyone willing to spend that much ion the device likely knows what they’re doing, or is willing to work it out.
I’ve long thought that SOHO users have the opportunity to use truly great hardware in their working lives. When you only need to buy one or two phones there’s less pressure on price than when an SMB users needs to equip a larger group.
There’s appears to be a lot to like in Invoxia’s NVX610. Much of it’s success or failure will be defined by the software loaded to the iOS device. I look forward to learning about someone’s experience with the device in real-world conditions. A detailed and independent review would be a good idea. I hope the company gets that done.
Of course, I’d love to try one myself, but the $500 asking price (Available from Amazon) is kinda steep. I’d also need to purchase the iOS device making it an expensive product to try.