Turning my attention to the Invoxia application, I found it similar to most other soft phones that I used. It allows the registration of one Skype ID and one SIP account. My very first calls using the NVX 610 were made using Skype since entering just one username and password was the fastest thing to setup. I found it only took a few moments to get Skype connectivity working.
Once connected to my Skype account the Invoxia application offered a copy of my Skype contact list in its contact menu. An initial call to the Skype call testing service revealed my own voice played back to me in what seemed like SILKen audio quality. Yes, the NVX 610 sounds very good indeed. The software supports wideband audio via G.722 and SILK codecs.
In contrast with Skype, it took me some time to get the NVX 610 successfully registered with my OnSIP account. This was not a fault of the NVX 610 as much as an artifact of the fact that OnSIP enforces the use of complex password strings. I found it awkward entering these details into the iOS user interface.
I also tried using the more straightforward SIP credentials that accompany an IdeaSIP account I occasionally use for testing. This was also problematic. It seems that I was constantly “fat-fingering” the touch-screen GUI.
When Leo at Junction Networks published his own review of the NVX 610 it gave me renewed confidence that it was possible to use the NVX 610 with OnSIP. I resorted to loading Evernote on the iPod Touch and using it as a means of transferring the SIP credentials to the iPod. From Evernote I cut & paste the SIP details into the Invoxia application, which then successfully registered.
I elected to consider the use of the NVX 610 as a desk phone as a use case completely separate from it’s use as a conference phone. As a desk phone it’s utility is largely defined by the functionality presented in the Invoxia application and the USB handset.
The audio quality of the second generation USB handset is good. It seems to be comparable to my Polycom SoundPoint and VVX Series desk phones.
As a little experiment I plugged the Invoxia USB handset directly into a Windows PC. When I did this the PC acknowledged it as a “USB composite audio device.” Thereafter Skype prompted to ask if it should make use of this new handset. A quick call to the Skype call testing service proved that the handset was working just as well on its own as it did with the NVX 610 base.
I found the handset cord a bit too short and fairly stiff. In it’s fully retracted state its about half the length of the handset cord on any of my reference desk phones. These facts made it a little awkward to position the NVX 610 ideally on my desk.
The NVX 610 is most impressive from the perspective of being a conference phone. Behind the metal grill the device combines an array of eight speakers with eight microphones located around three of its four sides.
My first public use of the NVX 610 was when I used the it to join the VUC call on Friday, February 3rd. As the primary topic of that VUC session was not something too dear to me I spent most of the session in speakerphone mode with the local microphone mute enabled. The virtual button on the NVX top is certainly very handy, as is the large metal volume control.
When in speakerphone mode the Invoxia application offers an option to focus audio pickup solely on the front of the NVX 610 akin to a traditional speakerphone. Alternatively, it can be set to pickup the entire room, more like a proper conference room phone. Thus it’s adaptable to the needs of a single person seated at a desk or a group in a small conference room.
The company refers to this feature as part of its “In Vivo Acoustic Technology.” This relates to how they process the signals from the array of eight microphones. It also extends to how they handle sound playback via the eight built-in speakers. The more common term for this is “beam forming.”
When the NVX 610 is used as the center-point in a with a three-way call, the company claims that it can control the placement of the far-end parties in the acoustic space. That is, the NVX 610 can put one party to the left of the soundstage and the other on the right.
It uses a similar DSP technique to expand the soundstage of stereo music, making it seem to emanate from points larger than the device itself. All of this certainly sounds quite interesting. I can certainly attest to the fact that the NVX 610 makes an excellent audio dock.
Sadly, in my working life I most typically call out to a remote conference bridge for calls with multiple parties. Thus in the course of my using the NVX 610 I have yet to experience this spatial manipulation capability first hand, at least with respect to three way calling.
As an aside, the page on the Invoxia web site that describes their In Vivo Acoustic Technology has a great little video that illustrates the importance of High Definition sound.
During my initial use of the NVX 610 in conjunction with ZipDX I found that I was dropped from the conference a few times. Each time I was immediately able to rejoin. A little investigation revealed that the NVX 610 was not correctly dealing with a SIP re-invite resulting from an IVR menu selection. A re-invite can occur when the call path is being passed away from a SIP server. This is common with OnSIP as they don’t generally hold onto the call media.
Such re-invite troubles are not new. Friend and VUC sponsor David Frankel of ZipDX has faced them on many occasions. So many that the ZipDX wideband demo (sip:firstname.lastname@example.org) has a couple of hidden menu items that invoke different types of SIP re-invites. A quick call to that SIP URI confirmed that the NVX 610 was not correctly handling the re-invite, so it lost the call media.
For what it’s worth, SIP re-invites often occur when a call is being passed to a different route, so a SIP server is taking itself out of the call path. That usually happens in a process like an IVR menu or call transfer. It can also happen in the middle of a call if a server’s jitter buffer decides to alter buffer size on-the-fly.
To overcome this limitation I first tried to use the My.OnSIP portal to dial by SIP URI. This web-based interface to OnSIP allows dialing by SIP URI even if it’s not supported by your end-point. It has the SIP server dial both the far end and your phone, linking them when the call legs are setup. At the time this didn’t work because it too relied upon a SIP re-invite.
In the end it was a simple matter to map the ZipDX wideband demo to an extension on our OnSIP PBX. Thus I could reach the SIP URI by dialing a four digit numeric extension. I reported the trouble with re-invites to Invoxia, along with some details on how I tested for that issue.
Over the course of my time using the NVX 610 there have been several updates to the iOS application, the most recent being June 16th. After this update I again tested the NVX with ZipDX. This time I found that re-invites were handled correctly. That is, the NVX 610 was registered to OnSIP yet calls to ZipDX were not dropped when a change in media handling required a re-invite. Apparently Invoxia had acted to address the situation I had reported earlier.
Late in June I shipped the NVX 610 to Doug Mohney, Editor-In-Chief at HDVoice News. Doug used the NVX 610 to join the VUC call June 28th for a discussion on the state of HDVoice. The recording of that call stands as an excellent example of using the NVX 610 as a speakerphone.
Doug used an iPad as the host iOS device. He didn’t report any difficulty getting the NVX 610 registered with the VUC account at OnSIP.com. However, he did note that the Invoxia application is not yet optimized for the iPad. To be more specific, it doesn’t rotate into landscape mode.
Beyond its use as a SIP or Skype end-point the NVX 610 acts as a speakerphone & handset for the basic phone functionality of an attached iPhone, or even an iPod Touch/iPad running a soft phone. To prove this point I made a couple of simple test calls using Bria iPhone Edition.
Invoxia’s NVX 610 is novel and in some ways impressive. The hardware is most impressive. While my initial impression was not great, I lived with the device long enough to develop an appreciation for its finer attributes, and better understand where it may fit into a small office or home office.
If you look around your work space and see an iPhone, iPod or an iPad then you may well want to try the NVX 610. It could be a good fit into your working routine. It’s certainly a match for iDevice sensibilities.
At $599 (Invoxia NVX 610 via Amazon) the NVX 610 might be considered costly, especially if you need to buy an iOS device to host the Invoxia application. However, it’s multi-role capability makes it difficult to find a single comparable device. You can find a better desk phone, but not one that’s as good in the conference phone role. You can find a better conference phone, but not one that’s also practical as a desk phone.
The NVX 610 shines as a conference phone or speakerphone. It’s not quite as well suited to a role as your primary desk phone. However, it’s unique in that it’s able to address both use cases. If you can only have one device and truly need to address all possible use cases, the NVX 610 provides a unique and attractive solution.
- Very stylish
- Multi-function: SIP, Skype & BT/Cell connectivity
- Good speakerphone/conference phone functionality
- Good support for HDVoice (G.722/SILK)
- Supports P.O.E.
- Built-in two port gigabit switch
- Requires a host iOS device
- App not iPad optimized
- Only supports one SIP account
- Does not dial by SIP URI
- Only available from Amazon.com