A few weeks ago VoIP Supply issued a blog post based around an infographic. It’s titled, “Best Conference Phones for Different Room Sizes.” Go now, have a look. It’s a quick read.
Normally I wouldn’t pay much attention to such writing. I suspect it’s really aimed at satisfying the mighty Google, and driving more traffic to their web site. However, I’m not the sort that lets the dissemination of questionable advice slide past unnoticed. Most especially from an organization that purports to be the subject matter experts.
The author suggests a number of different devices for different sized rooms. In this particular case I’m familiar with most of them. In fact, I have quite a few of them in inventory.
For Small Rooms
In smaller spaces they suggest the Polycom SoundStation IP5000 or the snom MeetingPoint.
Back when it was introduced I reviewed the IP5000 and found to be a great device for small rooms. It’s basically a single line SIP phone with HDVoice support. If you have Polycom on your desk it’s a perfect fit in the meeting room.
Today you can buy the IP5000 for around $200, making it a great value as well. This is, I think, a very good recommendation!
I think it’s a bit unfair to characterize this device as only useful in a small room. It can certainly handle a mid-sized room. It can even handle a bit larger room when the optional extension microphones are used. FWIW, the MeetingPoint costs a lot more than the IP5000.
For Medium Rooms
In mid-sized rooms they recommend the Polycom SoundStation IP7000 or the Yealink CP860. As already mentioned, I think that the MeetingPoint should be listed here as well.
Polycom’s Soundstation IP7000 has been the leader in it’s class since it’s introduction, which was way back in 2008. I would guess that it could handle just about any size of meeting room. At least, there are configurations and options to address very large rooms.
At the point of its introduction the IP7000 was quite costly. In recent times it can be purchased for around $600. That’s the POE version, sans power supply. The optional exptension microphones extend its reach into very large rooms for just another $150.
Some would say that the IP7000 wasn’t topped until the introduction of their new RealPresence Trio, a device that I haven’t yet had the pleasure of trying. (Hint. Hint.)
I don’t know anything about the Yealink CP860, so I can’t speak about it from experience.
For Large Rooms
In large rooms VoIP Supply recommends the Grandstream GAC2500, possibly mated with the GVC3200 video conference device. Having participated in the beta for these devices, I have both of them in-house. You may recall that Grandstream appeared on VUC561 to showcase the GVC3200, which is a fine and commendable device.
That said, I cannot agree with the GAC2500 being their sole recommendation for a large meeting room. It is a competitive device, priced attractively. In a large room you may need to daisy-chain two units. That drives the cost up a bit, but it’s competitively priced in the first place, so no big deal.
The GAC2500 is a reasonable recommendation, but it really shouldn’t be the only one.
There are probably more Polycom IP7000s already in-use in large meeting rooms than any other conference phone in the world. Two of the IP7000s can be optioned with the Multi Interface module accessory to accommodate a very large room.
Then there’s Phoenix Audio. They have a range of conference phones that are well worth examination.
Up to 15(!) of their Spider Series can be daisy chained. That addresses a huge room. It’s a lot like an major lecture theater or conference center where there may be a microphone for every 1-2 people seated along rows of desks.
In making their recommendations they completely fail to address the potential requirement for different modes of connectivity. The devices listed are all SIP phones for wired networks. Some also offer USB connectivity. None have analog PSTN connectivity.
USB connectivity is especially useful if you plan to make use of the gear with computer-based service, like Blue Jeans, Hangouts, Skype, or Zoom.
User’s who have small to mid-sized meeting rooms may well served by the Polycom SoundStation Duo. While the Duo looks a lot like the IP5000, it offers both PSTN and SIP connectivity. It allows for two optional extension microphones and provides a 2.5mm TRS analog audio jack for connecting to a computer or mobile phone.
What’s a Person To Do?
That depends. If you have the time and inclination, buy something and try it for a few meetings. Find out if it works for you. It’s not that difficult.
Early in my adventures with VoIP my habit was to purchase a device and use it for a while. If it was in some way inadequate I’d resell it on E-bay. Sometimes I took a small loss in the process. I just called it the cost of an education.
If you just need a solution NOW, and you don’t care about the minutiae, you’re probably more at the mercy of the resellers advice. Just be sure that you have the ability to return the device if it doesn’t meeting your needs.
I certainly understand the appeal of infographics. They can encapsulate a lot of detail into a visual presentation that can help make confusing topics easier to understand.
However, if you’re going to commission/create infographics you should present them in a manner that leaves the text legible. In this case the image has been scaled down to fit in the format of the blog. In so doing, it renders the text extremely blurry.
If you need to squeeze the image to fit an arbitrary presentation at least link to a full-resolution version. That way people can see the original in all its glory. To do otherwise just looks unprofessional.
Because I Care
Am I just picking on VoIP Supply? Maybe. I admit that it bugs me when those who pitch themselves as “experts” offer questionable guidance.
I’ve come to appreciate that online marketers often write things not to be read by real people, but rather to game their search engine rankings. If that’s the plan it’s as much a matter of quantity as quality. OTOH, if something is worth doing it’s worth getting it right.
Surely there’s an editorial process that has someone knowledgeable confirming the veracity of statements made on the company blog. There must be, right? There certainly should be.
I very much doubt that the author of this particular blog post has even laid hands on the various devices mentioned. This reads like it was derived from spec sheets, not hands-on experience.
Rest assured this comes from a place of caring. I really do care that people get good information about the tools of communication. It shouldn’t be like buying a used car.
Now, all you kids…get off my lawn!