A Detailed Overview of Popular VoIP Hardware
VoIP hardware refers to the physical devices that are necessary to take full advantage of a VoIP system. Nowadays, VoIP systems are quickly becoming a standard for businesses that want to offer high-quality service and compete with large organizations. VoIP systems may appear to be complicated and expensive machinery, but in reality, it’s a lot more simple and affordable. In most cases, businesses can start with investing in just a few basic devices, and consider adding more later. What’s important to understand is that your business’s needs and demands dictate the need for various types of VoIP equipment. In this article, we will go over the most common VoIP hardware devices. We will also introduce all the corresponding details that will help you decide what you need or don’t need.
VoIP hardware phone systems
The most basic set of VoIP equipment is the VoIP hardware phone system. There are many variations to these, which differ in both price and functionality. Choosing a fitting one depends on your needs, company size and the number of users.
What is a VoIP phone?
A VoIP phone is a hardware device designed to send and receive phone calls over an IP network. These phones convert the analog signal of traditional phones to digital, enabling it to travel over the internet. Also, they convert incoming digital phone signals from the internet to standard phone audio signals.
Also known as an IP phone, a VoIP phone includes features and functionality that traditional phone systems don’t. For instance, IP phones can be used for video and conference calls, as well as allow multiple users to answer the same phone call from different devices when connected to the same network. These enhancements are enabled because phone calls take place over the internet instead of old PSTNs (public switched telephone networks).
VoIP hardware requirements
VoIP hardware requirements depend on your preferred setup, but it is generally uncomplicated. Some IP phones require A/C adapters (power supply and charger) to work while others use Ethernet cables. Ethernet is the technology used to connect local area networks, which enables devices to communicate with each other. This is the primary way that IP phones are connected to the same network, enabling all the various perks of swift and reliable internal communication. Businesses that utilize VoIP systems in a geographically localized area such as homes, offices, or educational institutions usually use Ethernet. Compared to wireless technologies, Ethernet cables are less vulnerable to disruptions and outsides attacks and offer greater data security.
When the VoIP hardware is set up, all the IP phones are assigned an IP address. This automatically configures the network and VoIP parameters dictated by your vendor. Also, all the IP phones are connected over a shared domain name.
Types of IP phones
There are two types of IP phones: hardware-based and software-based.
The VoIP hardware-based phones look like traditional wired or cordless phones. They have the same physical features such as speakers and microphone. They also feature a touchpad and display used to indicate user input and caller ID. A VoIP phone features call transfer and multimember calling functionality and employees can use it for multiple VoIP accounts.
Software-based IP phones or softphones are apps installed on a mobile device or PC. They retain all the functionality of a hardware phone while enabling video calls over a camera and instant chat. Depending on the softphone, users may require a headset and a microphone to make and receive calls.
If you want to turn a regular phone into an IP phone, you’ll need an analog telephone adapter (ATA). This device acts as an interface between a traditional PSTN and a digital phone line. However, it’s important to understand that even with ATAs, some of the IP phone’s functionality like image transmission, voicemail to email, auto attendants, etc. cannot be replicated. If you’re planning to use all of the features of VoIP, it’s better to invest in an IP phone. The cost for IP phones varies depending on the brand, model, and functionality. Generally, a good device’s price ranges from $50 to $150.
VoIP phone models
Most market-leading VoIP providers like Vonage and 8X8 will often help customers with their hardware needs. You can purchase the hardware directly from the vendor. In some cases, the price for the hardware rent and maintenance will be a part of the vendor’s pricing plan. Let’s take a look at some of the top performing IP phones from these vendors.
POLYCOM VVX 1500 IP Phone
The Polycom VVX 1500 is a full-fledged, high-quality, all-in-one VoIP phone designed for small and large enterprises alike. The functionality of the phone makes it suitable for use in offices, homes, health, and educational institutions, etc. The large, touchscreen display enables users to access video calls, applications, and browse the internet quickly and conveniently. This VoIP hardware phone features an Acoustic Fence system, which eliminates background noise in busy call center environments and supports over 60 call control platforms. The price ranges from $400-$500 with Vonage.
Polycom VVX 150 IP Phone
The Polycom VVX 150 is a high-quality, two-line IP phone with reliable performance and great sound quality. It features a simple, practical design and is easy to start using by beginners. The phone’s most suited for individuals working from home or small teams that do not require much functionality. It can also be used in small local areas like hallways and break rooms. Also, the phone has an LCD and a set of dedicated keys: back, home, headset switch, hands-free speakerphone, and microphone mute. The price offered by 8×8 is $91.99.
Polycom VVX 350 IP Phone
The Polycom VVX 350 is a high-quality, six-line IP phone suitable for small to medium-sized businesses. We highly recommend it to organizations that handle a moderate to a high volume of calls. The intuitive UI and design are easy to pick up by everyone. The six line key buttons enable users to manage two live calls simultaneously and use the others for speed dial. There is also the option to enhance the phone to handle six simultaneous live calls at an additional price. Notable features include group intercom paging (broadcast up to 23 paging groups), HD voice support, color display, two USB and two Ethernet ports. The price offered by 8×8 is $209.99.
Other popular VoIP hardware
VoIP hardware phones have excellent speakers. However, most employees prefer to make use of headsets so as not to disturb co-workers and keep the customer conversations private. There is a variety of headsets including wired, cordless, Bluetooth and USB to choose from, depending on your needs and preferences.
These phones are similar to regular IP phones, but they are connected to the computer through a USB and paired with softphone software. They can also be connected to an IP phone to allow multiple users to make use of the VoIP line at the same time.
Ethernet cables, routers, and UPS
Depending on the size of your working environment, you may also need to invest into other tech. Ethernet cables, additional routers help ensure seamless operability and connectivity. Uninterruptable power supplies (UPS) to make sure that electricity outages won’t affect your business.
Although the upfront cost of switching to a VoIP system may appear to be huge, in the long term, it will serve as a great choice to save costs, especially when you’re doing a lot of long-distant calls. Also, remember that as a small business, you most probably won’t need all the top-notch VoIP hardware to start reaping the benefits of VoIP systems. Finally, if you’re really low on budget, you could choose to simply stick with cloud-hosted VoIP. That way you can use your computer and/or smartphone to take advantage of the technology. Once the cost savings start to ramp up, consider investing in VoIP equipment.