Invoxia’s NVX 610 is a curious device. In some ways it defies description. Is it an iPhone/iPad dock? Is it a desk phone? Or is it a conference phone?
In truth, it’s all of these things. The question is, can it very good at all those functions? Or any of them?
These questions are what prompted me approach Invoxia for an evaluation unit. This review arises from the my experience with that device over the past eight months.
Let’s begin by considering a little bit about the company. Invoxia are a French company with strength in design and engineering. Amongst their team you will find considerable experience in telecom. In the past they have been involved in projects for BT and the French multi-national Thomson, including the SIP/DECT hardware that Comcast rolled out as part of its HomePoint offering.
At the initial un-boxing the NVX 610 impresses even for its package design. It’s delivered in packaging that underscores alignment with the design sensibilities of Apple. Given that the NVX 610 is really an accessory to an iOS device this makes perfect sense.
I use the term “iOS device” since the NVX 610 requires such a device as host to the Invoxia application. In essence, the iOS device acts as the user interface component for the NVX 610. In my case I used a 3rd generation iPod Touch purchased specifically for this review. You could also use an iPhone or an iPad.
Once out of the box the NVX 610 is an apparently simple device. All white with a metal grill on three sides, it looks very much like a fancy audio dock for the iOS device.
On the rear apron of the NVX there’s a recessed panel where you will find an array of connectors and the power switch.
- Ethernet (to network)
- Ethernet (to computer)
- 2 x USB
- Coax power input
- Power switch
Turning the NVX 610 over you’ll find a channel on the bottom that allows the cable from the USB handset to be held securely. When installed in this manner the cable for the handset comes away from the base at the left side, as it would with a traditional desk phone.
The top of the NVX 610 features an inset area to receive the iOS device if an iPod or iPhone is used. There are a number of plastic adapters that allow this connector to receive any suitable generation of iPod Touch or iPhone. Immediately in front of that area there is a single volume knob, flanked on either side by touch controls for mic mute and VM access.
A supplied bracket can be used to make the NVX act as a base for an iPad, holding it conveniently at the correct angle. The NVX 610 base is a hefty device, weighing enough to give the impression that it’s solidly built, and ensuring that it doesn’t become unstable when holding an iPad.
The top left portion of the NVX is barren. It’s designed to receive a magnetic holder for the corded handset. Invoxia provides several of these in different colors, making it possible to, in a small way, adapt the NVX 610 to your local decor.
These magnetic holders drop firmly in place, making me think that I would not want to put my wallet on top of the NVX for fear it would erase my credit cards. Consider yourselves warned!
The NVX 610 connects to the host iOS device in one of three ways; via the 33 pin connector at the docking socket, via USB, or via Bluetooth. For most of my use of the device I had it connected via Bluetooth, which offered the convenience of dialing using the Invoxia iOS app while the iPod Touch was not physically docked.
The NVX 610 arrived with a corded handset connected via USB. This handset is in fact a stock USB audio device that worked fine with a soft phone when plugged directly into my PC. It’s addition to the NVX 610 makes it more practical as a traditional desk phone.
Somewhere in the combination of the base and the handset there is some proximity sensor that is able to take the phone off-hook when the handset is raised. If you’re already on a call using the speakerphone the call is automatically moved to the handset. It’s a nice touch and novel, given that there’s no physical hook switch.
Late in January a new version of the USB handset arrived. Where the first was just a handset with no controls, this new version includes the common dial-pad keys and displays on both side of the handset.
The dial pad makes it possible to dial a call without using the iOS device at all. The LCD on the outside of the handset displays the incoming caller ID. This new handset provides a significant improvement in its usability as a desk phone.
The NVX 610 absolutely requires an iOS device. That is, it’s wholly non-functional when the iOS device is removed. In this manner you might view the NVX 610 as an accessory to the iOS device, not unlike an audio dock. Similarly, the Invoxia application for iOS requires the NVX 610 hardware. It’s not functional as a standalone soft phone.