The Questionable Economics Of EHS Cables & Lifters

If you spend a lot of time on the phone then I believe that you need a proper headset. Many headsets require some form of interface hardware to connect to a desk phone. Many IP phones, like my Polycom Soundpoint IP series, require the use of an “Electronic Hook-Switch” (aka EHS) cable or a mechanical lifter.

A mechanical lifter is a Flintstone-like approach to hook switch control by purely mechanical means. It literally lifts the handset to take the phone off-hook, replacing it down again to hang up the call. To me this is essentially a kind of telephony steam punk.

Moving to 21st century methods, an EHS cable allows some aspect of the headset to control the hook state of the phone electrically. That is, it allows you to answer or hang up a call using switching that’s built into the headset. This may be true with both wired and wireless headsets.

To be blunt, lifters and EHS cables just aren’t cheap. The few times that I’ve had to buy an EHS cable it cost in the $50 – $80 range. That’s a considerable price when compared to the cost of the headset or the desk phone itself.

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Tip For Adding An Expansion Handset To A Gigaset C610A IP SIP/DECT System

In recent weeks there has been a long running thread over at the DSL Reports VoIP forum. It revolves around differences in the menus on the handsets the ship as part of a Gigaset C610A IP SIP/DECT phone system vs C610H expansion handset.

The menus on the handset show or hide certain options depending upon how the handset was intended to be delivered. It might deliver as part of a C610A IP system, in which case the menu option to “Select Services” is shown. The handset may be configured to deliver as part of a Gigaset C610A-L410 combination. Since that system is not IP-capable the “Select Services” menu is not shown on the handset.

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Revisiting Video Calling To The Living Room, Yet Again

This is a topic that seemingly will not go away, yet it’s not clear that there’s much uptake by customers. Going back two years, the first wave of “Smart HDTVs” were capable of running an embedded Skype application. With the addition of an optional camera/microphone module HDTVs from Samsung, Panasonic and others were able to provide 720p video calling from point-to-point.

While a curiosity, this capability was initially limited to the high-end models that priced around $3K. Then you had to add the optional camera module, which cost an additional $200-300. In addition, there were reports of interoperability issues with other types of Skype clients. Your pricey HDTV might not be able to call a Mac or  PC-based Skype client.

To be sure, the cost of smart HDTVs has been falling, making such capability available at prices closer to $1K. Even so, it’s just not clear to me that embedded video calling in smart TVs was the revolution that some expected. Asking around I’ve yet to find anyone who found the Smart TV apps a compelling argument for replacing their existing HDTV.

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snom ONE Mini PBX Targets SOHO Market

Today snom is introducing a small form-factor PBX for the small office and home office. Based upon their established ONE PBX software the ONE Mini offers a depth of features at an attractive price point.

You may not know this, but a snom 200 was the very first  SIP hard phone that I ever purchased. snom was an early leader in promoting SIP, also an early advocate of HDVoice.


The new ONE Mini PBX supports up to 20 extensions, providing a generous list of features derived from their snom ONE Yellow edition. Further, it’s delivered in a form factor that looks very much like the base from their m9 SIP/DECT cordless phone.

The device seems well-considered, featuring support for power-over-ethernet and no moving parts at all. This makes it especially well suited to applications where small size, low power consumption and high-reliability are concerns.

The ONE Mini sells for $599 from a range of vendors, including VUC sponsor e4 technologies.

New Gear: Plantronics Voyager Pro HD

You may recall that in the spring of 2011 I reviewed the Plantronics Voyager Pro UC Bluetooth cordless headset. Even after it was replaced around the office by the Sennheiser DW Pro2 this little Bluetooth headset was a welcome travelling companion. That is, until our younger Labrador chewed it to bits a few months back.

At the time of the unfortunate incident I wasn’t exactly flush with cash so I decided to make due with the wired headset that came with my Galaxy Nexus. That headset has proven irksome. Last week I was compelled to order a new Plantronics Voyager Pro HD .

Occasionally manufacturers will provide sample gear for evaluation. While I might write a positive review about such a device, nothing underscores that opinion like spending from my own pocket to replace the when it’s lost. Such is the case with this headset.

Hopefully, in the coming week or two I can find some time to setup the Gigaset DX800A and find out if the VP HD handles HDVoice calls as well as the VP UC.

Some Thoughts On Keyboards In A Post-PC World

Two-Tablets-&-PhoneThis past week I’ve been getting to know Google’s Nexus 7. So far I’m liking it a lot. It’s interesting to see where I find it useful and where I still reach for my cell phone, netbook, laptop or desktop. How the Nexus7 changes my relationship with those devices is possibly one of the more interesting things about the tablet.

Of course, the Nexus7 is not my first attempt to make a tablet part of my routine. Last year I bought a Viewsonic gTablet, which is a 10” tablet running Android 2.2. I went so far as loading Cyanogen Mod to it, but eventually lost interest. it was simply too limited to be useful.

Last summer we bought an HP Touchpad running WebOS. The fire sale price was attractive. My wife ended up claiming that as her own. When she thought she’d lost it we ended up with a second Touchpad. That one was almost refit with Android 4.1…and may yet in fact.

Finally, in a fit of bad judgment I bought the HP Slate 500. That was an 8.7” tablet running Windows 7. I purchased it with a specific, work related project in mind. When that project failed to materialize I decided to resell it on E-bay, but not before I had also purchased the companion Bluetooth keyboard and protective cover.

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