The Deskphone Re-Imagined: Invoxia’s NVX610

In recent years we’ve repeatedly heard of the death of the land line, how large numbers of consumers are “cutting the cord” and turning to mobile phones as their only phones. Industry data on the continuing loss of land lines bears out this claim.

Many people, including VUC regulars like myself and Dave Michels, have been calling for a reimagining of the desk phone. The premise being that an innovative reconsideration of the desk phone could save the “Home Phone.”

The trend in cord cutting is not purely a consumer phenomenon. Given dispersed and highly mobile workforces some businesses are eschewing the traditional desk phone in favor of mobile phones. This is driven by many factors, notably; cost, convenience, and feature set in the light of smart phones.

There are a number of players who have or are offering new devices intended to make us rethink the significance of the desk phone. Amongst them you’ll find Polycom with their VVX line, Grandstream Networks GXV range  and Altigen’s iFusion. Those are all devices from more-or-less traditional telecom or enterprise vendors.  There are a few new players in the game, including; Cloud Telecomputers, Hookflash and Invoxia.

Several of these new offerings have something in common, they take advantage of the momentum that Apple has built-in its iOS offerings, the iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch. In so doing they actually leverage the trend in mobile devices to reconsider the possibilities presented by the desk phone or home phone.

Invoxia-Desk-Phone-600

When Invoxia appeared on a VUC call not long ago their NVX610 caught my attention. At first I was dismayed by both the price and the fact that it was dependent upon an Apple iOS device. As I’ve mentioned previously, we’re not an Apple-friendly household, although I did have an iPhone 3G for a while, just to play with iOS apps.

However, the NVX610 is a very interesting device, one that I was curious to try for myself. When Serge Renouard, Managing Director of Invoxia, offered one on evaluation, I simply had to jump at the offer.

True to their promise, an NVX610 arrived last week and sits as yet unpacked in my office. Now I must do my part and order an iOS device to make practical my trial of the device. I’ll likely buy an iPod Touch shortly.

On paper there’s a lot to like in the NVX610. The company has put considerable engineering effort into the beam-forming microphone array, and similarly directional speakerphone. They seem to appreciate audio quality as well as gee-whiz features.

The engineering team at Invoxia has considerable past experience in telephony. They worked on projects for Thomson, also a French company, including an HDVoice capable cable CPE. That device supports the use of CATiq-based cordless wideband voice, even though companies like Comcast completely failed to market that aspect of the device.

In conversation Serge tells me that they are working to support Android devices in the future, which I find encouraging. Like others before them they find that even if the number of Android devices being sold is an opportunity, the diversity of Android devices is something of a problem. No one “dock” design is easily capable of coping with different Android handsets. Then there’s the matter of supporting various different Android versions.

In contrast, Apple’s iOS is essentially a singular target platform, even if supporting the iPad involves the use of a USB cord over the 30 pin docking connector. The NVX and the iOS device can be connected in one of three ways; 30 pin docking connector, USB or Bluetooth.

Serge also says that they’re putting effort into evolving their provisioning capabilities. The idea being that the company will partner with ITSPs to rollout devices to end-users that are plug & play. The initial configuration of the device worked out through a very simple initialization aspect of the iOS app.

Taken from a slightly different direction, the end-user upon setting up the NVX610 could select an ITSP from a menu of offerings and have the device automatically establish the account and configure itself. Gigaset has tried something similar, which is convenient but never quite departs from having the user input some account credentials. Invoxia may be able to may the process very transparent.

I look forward to trying the NVX610 in the coming weeks, and will report back what I find. For the moment, it sits unboxed, for the moment awaiting its iOS host.