SIP Phone Overview 2011 - Replacement for Cisco 7941G phones

Not that I want to start a flame war over sip phones, but I feel this forum is probably the absolute best place to ask this question. I’m looking for a replacement fully compatiable with latest asterisk/freepbx distro sip phone to replace an aging Cisco 7941G phones setup. I setup a new server for testing and the Cisco’s are not working well with the latest freepbx distro, so maybe its time to retire these old boys and just dive in both feet with new fully supported hardware. Thanks for any advice before I start buying hardware to test.

You need to define “fully compatable” so we can understand your application.

Here is my summary of the current and most popular phones, it has been over a year since we had a “what phone is best” thread and the market place has changed.

Let me start with my opinion on the Cisco legacy 79x1 phones. While the SIP load is bare bones the phones themselves are perfect. Everything about them is perfect. The weight of the handset, the tilt base, the display, tactile feel of the buttons, sidetone levels, speakerphone etc. On top of that they have a really slick dial plan that allows you to simulate secondary dialtone after dialing the outside line key. It works so well, on a properly implemented dial plans you come off hook, hit 9 and get second dialtone (I use British dialtone for the pre access event then US dialtone for the live dialing) once dialing is complete no need to press send the phone rings right away.

SIP phone oeverview (very brief) -

Cisco 5xx series. Nice line up at great price points. Average speakerphone quality. Small dislplays (but very clear). No tilt bases. Cisco name has great street appeal, very resller friendly. They work great through NAT traversal.

Aastra 67xx The most well integrated phones with Asterisk and FreePBX. The XML scripts make provisioning a snap. The parking, queue, follow me, DND and Visual Voice Mail scripts are very user friendly and popular with users. Great prices, very reseller friendly phone. Tilt bases now available and are a must have, factor that into price. Very inexpensive, high bang for buck. Average speakerphone. NAT traversal is touchy and I would not use these for remote users without a VPN. I hate rubber buttons and they have them. The handset is light and very difficult to cradle between your shoulder.

Polycom Great phones, pricey. Almost as nice as the Cisco 79x1 series, wish they had a tilt base. Industry leading audio quality. Great NAT traversal. Small displays…Wonderful documentation. At 700 pages it’s not for the faint of heart. You also need a good grip on XML to make these things humm a tune. You can make them do almost anything you want. The latest software has a full web browser, soon we will see awesome apps for these just like the Aastra. They are a bit pricey. I have a Cisco 670 on my desk with an expansion module.

Panasonic Looked very nice at the Astricon show. Panasonic is commited to making these the bast phones for Open Source. Right now they are unknown but worth looking at.

Grandstream Never pesonally used these but the reputation is terrible.

SNOM The 300 series are solid phones. Lot’s of user programmable keys and simple operation. The 800 series have really small icons and many software issues.

Mitel Lot’s of BLF buttons. Easy to program and very solid.

Audiocodes No experience

Yealink No experience, several reseller have mentioned quality problems.

Chinese Phones You get what you pay for

To weigh in on what Skyking said, The only phones i have personal experience with are Polycoms and Cisco.

The Cisco phones are great… seem to have a better price point than they did a few years ago. The legacy Polycoms, (301,401,501,601) I hated… Hated everything about them. The current models I love. I personally buy 331’s for most users, 550’s for admins and managers, and a 650 with side car for receptionist. Buy anything outside the “norm” is tricky. By that I mean anything other than plugging them in an using them as Polycom intended. They don’t seem to follow some conventions exactly. Even adding an Intercom or Park button. If you use ring groups, all phones in the ring group that do not answer the call will show a missed call. Supposedly the new 4.0 UC software addresses this and a few other concerns, but i haven’t got ahold of it to try it.

I have not yet bought any Astra phones, but the more I read about them and the scripts for adding desired functionality, I think I will be soon.

Wizard is correct - The missed call indicator on Polycom’s is global not on a per line basis.

As far as the park or intercom, it works great in 3.2 forward with the ef (extended function) key support. You can add page, intercom, xfer to voicemail, park, pickup keys to the softkeys at the bottom of the display.

heh, that was kind of a vague statement. What I meant was that it has the same hardware abilities, ie 2 ethernet ports (so pc can plug into it) with 1 being POE, can handle voice and data on seperate vlans, has like builtin function keys. LCD need not be color, but ok if it is. Can handle at least 2 line (trunks). From what I have been researching most of the good to best range already have all the functions the base cisco’s had in the 7941G series. I want to build this out so that it can run on the 1.8 asterisk series since 1.8 will be supported long term.