Polycom’s VVX-500 Finds A Home On My Desk

polycom-vvx500-300px At long last I’ve purchased a Polycom VVX-500 for my desk. A year ago I participated in the beta program for this outstanding desk phone. A such I’ve had one to use well before they launched in October 2011.

However, Polycom devices involved in a beta program ship with a boot loader that will only load beta firmware. Once the device was officially shipping and release firmware available I could not longer update the VVX in my possession. This wasn’t initially an issue, but when OnSIP started to support Polycom UC v4.0+ firmware with their provisioning server I thought it would be good to more completely integrate my desk phone with our OnSIP account.

I might like to review the VVX-500, but that seems a little weird. As I was involved in the beta program I was bound by the companies standard non-disclosure agreement during the period of the beta. Once the device launched various other people reviewed it. I’m not sure that it’s worth my time to commit to a full length review, but there are some items worth noting about the VVX-500. I can certainly point these out from time to time.

The VVX-500 is completely unlike it’s older brother, the VVX-1500. It’s much more compact. It retains the color touch-screen interface, which is a real treat to use. It makes setting up a single phone very simple indeed.

The VVX-500 has two USB ports; one under a plastic cover pointing up and another pointing to the rear. The first is intended to service a yet-to-be-released camera module, giving the VVX-500 video calling capability on part with the VVX-1500. The second USB port can be used for a USB memory stick, in which case call recordings becomes a possibility.

Alternatively, the second USB port can accommodate a USB attached headset. As I’ve noted previously, Polycom supports a handful of Bluetooth wireless headsets including the Plantronics Voyager Pro UC.

With this new VVX-500 on my desk and a Plantronics Voyager Pro HD in my bag, I could not help myself but try the pair together. Please recall that some time ago I had a Voyager Pro UC but it suffered some abuse from one of my canine friends.

I eventually replaced that headset with a Voyager Pro HD, but I still had the BT300 Bluetooth dongle from the UC model. Plantronics lists the BT300 as an optional accessory to the Voyager Pro HD. This lead me to expect that the VVX and the VP HD would be natural partners.

I began my little experiment by using my desktop PC to pair the BT300 and the headset. This was easily done. Once paired I confirmed that I could make a Skype call with wideband audio.

VVX-500 & Voyager Pro UC

Then I moved the BT300 dongle to the USB port on the back of the VVX-500. When inserted the VVX responded with an on-screen announcement of “Digital Headset Connected.” That’s certainly a good sign.

There’s a menu option in the VVX firmware for headset mode. This defined how the phone will handle hook switch control. I set the VVX-500 for “Plantronics” mode. From that point on tapping the headset button on the phone routed call audio to the Voyager Pro HD. Further, the call audio was plainly in HDVoice.

The ability to use the same headset on-the-road and at my desk certainly seems appealing. The fact that it can be done without spending money on an EHS cable just enhances that appeal. I think that the VVX-500 and Voyager Pro series headset are an excellent combination.

That’s all for now, but I’ll no doubt have more to say about the VVX-500 over time.

  • Sean

    I really like that this has USB inbuilt and makes it easy to setup bluetooth but the buttons and screen make it look like this PREMIUM phone:
    http://www.wayfair.com/Premium-Big-Button-Phone-290-PHONE-DQC1077.html?refid=GX15983723220-DQC1077&gclid=COaF2Pek-LMCFaN_QgodPGMAUg

    The touch screen is appealing because you don’t have to have several actual buttons but does that mean it takes a long time to navigate through the settings? 

    If you had a budget around the price point of this phone, would you purchase it? Can you list your top three favorite desk phones at the price point of the VW500?

    By the way, where in Texas do you live? I used to inhabit the 512 area (south Austin to be specific) all my life until August of this year until I moved to the 805 area (northern LA)

    • mjgraves

      1. Navigating the menus is really easy. Simpler than on the normal Polycom Soundpoint phones. You can use the touchscreen or the navigation buttons. You can also use the Polycom Desktop Connector to give keyboard and mouse functions to the phone from a neighboring PC. This lets you treat it like a PC, using the mouse for navigation and the keyboard for text entry.

      2. Yes, I bought some for my own use. I’ll have to ponder a list of favorites.

      3. I’m in Houston.

      • Sean

        Now after exploring more devices, I’m back to wanting to replace my now subpar linksys SPA942. At the time, I thought it was the best phone but now I realize I would like to sell it.

        Ultimately, I’m considering a phone that will allow video conferencing with onsip & sip2sip.info. I very recently have tried video calling with SIP and I’m using Bria with a Grandstream GXV3000…I know, less than ideal. I thought this had HD audio but I’m limited to narrowband. 🙁

        Anyway, how do you like the video calling on the VVX500? The screen and resolution seem way too limiting, and it seems you have to be hovering directly over the phone to see the other party video.
        screen size: 3.5” (9-cm) TFT (320 x 240)

        How do you like video calling on this phone vs other phones you’ve used?

        • mjgraves

          If you really want to use the phone for video calling you’d be happier with the VVX-600. Yes, it costs a bit more, but the larger display is worth it. It also makes the on-screen keyboard easier to use.

          I tried connecting a Logitech webcam to the VVX-600 but it simply didn’t work. In contrast, when I plugged a Polycom VVX Camera Module into a Windows 7 PC it was recognized as a generic USB camera.

          • sean

            e4 had a too good of a price for the VVX500 so it will be on my desk very soon!

  • Ian Paterson

    Much appreciate your posts and reviews. I am looking at purchasing the VVX 500 and see that Plantronics have a new Voyager Legend UC available. Do you know if this is also compatible with the VVX? Thank you

    • mjgraves

      Absolutely! I currently use a Voyager Pro Legend with my VVX-600. The VPL UC only differs in that it comes with a USB attached BT radio dongle. That will work with a VVX-500, but its not required with the VVX-600..as that model VVX has a built-in BT radio.

      • Ian Paterson

        Fantastic and thanks for the update.

  • lisa

    I just started researching VOIP phones and think I may really like this model, do you know if this will connect to the internet via wifi or do you have to plug in via ethernet cable? if you need a cable, does it have to be dedicated or can it go from the phone to the computer to avoid the need for 2 ethernet plug ins on the wall (sorry, I am not overly techie). thanks for the help!!

  • mjgraves

    The VVX-500 requires a wired ethernet connection. It does have a network “pass-through” connector so that one Ethernet drop can be used to connect to the phone, then onward to your computer.

    That said, there are wifi-to-ethernet adapters that you can used to adapt it to using your wifi. Here’s a link to one that seems well regarded.

    NETGEAR Universal N300 Wi-Fi to Ethernet Adapter (WNCE2001)

  • Adrian

    Hi, would one be able to provision multiple SIP accounts on this phone? I am being told that it can have 12 registrations, but I am not clear whether they can be with multiple servers (i.e. different SIP providers). I think it can have multiple SIP lines from the same server, but not from different servers. I would like to get a solid business SIP line for work, but for personal calls overseas I could use a cheaper provider. Any chance you could confirm?
    I believe Grandstream UCM6100 can handle multiple VOIP trunks, but I would not want to introduce another piece of equipment. Are you aware of any phones that have this feature? Thanks,
    Adrian

    • mjgraves

      Absolutely! All the Polycom desk phones (SoundPoint and VVX Series) support multiple registrations. You can set the SIP server globally, in which case it would apply to multiple lines. Or you can set a SIP server in the settings for each line. In my case i have a couple of lines registered to OnSIP and another couple registered to ZipDX.

      • Adrian

        Thanks so much for the answer. Do you happen to know if Cisco SPA525G2 can do the same? It has 5 lines, but again, looking in the manual and screenshots on the web, it’s unclear how many separate registrations. It is a nice phone, and being at the end of life, it can be purchased for a good price.