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7/1/2008 - Corrections to clarify small business as target market
Polycom Spectralink 8002

At a Glance
Product Polycom SpectraLink Wireless Telephone (8002)
Summary Wi-Fi SIP phone designed for small business use
Pros • Durable construction
• Supports strong Wi-Fi encryption
• Centrally managed provisioning
• Good voice quality
• Reasonable battery life
• WMM works as promised
Cons • Fiddly initial network configuration
• No support for compressed codecs like G.729
• Relatively expensive

Polycom is a leader in the IP communications space. Not only are their longstanding SoundPoint series of desktop IP phones class leaders, but their voice technology can be found in many products under many names.

Seeing a need to expand their product offering to include cordless mobility, Polycom recently acquired SpectraLink, a leading maker of Wi-Fi-based telephony systems, and Kirk Telecom, a leader in DECT-based cordless telephony systems. These acquisitions, now consolidated under the Polycom name, give the company a comprehensive product suite addressing the mobile IP communications needs of various vertical markets.

The Polycom 8002 is a brand new entry-level Wi-Fi handset designed to fit into SIP-based IP telephony systems. In evaluating the Polycom 8002, it helps to understand the intended target market. This phone is not meant for the average home user with a household WLAN. Instead, Polycom is marketing it to small businesses where there may already be an existing wireless network (WLAN) infrastructure and cordless mobile IP telephony is desired. (Polycom's 8020 and 8030 handsets using SVP for QoS are geared toward larger enterprises.)

As an example, consider a small chain of retail stores. This type of business may have some form of wide area network (WAN) to connect critical infrastructure like cash registers, inventory and accounting systems, etc. They can also pass voice traffic (VOIP) over their network as a means of connecting locations and reducing telecom costs. Key personnel may further benefit from the ability to move around the store or warehouse while on the phone. They could use cellular phones to provide this mobility, but then they face considerable monthly costs and limited integration into the company PBX.

By using Wi-Fi cordless handsets, a business can address their requirements of providing access to staff, regardless of their location or activity. Properly-designed products can also reduce management overhead and maintain a common configuration and provisioning strategy that can be handled by existing IT or telecom staff.

Even though the Polycom 8002 is better suited to small business needs, I put it to the test over a period of several weeks on my existing home office Asterisk server in conjunction with several SIP desk phones and along side two existing SIP/DECT cordless phone systems. 

Product Tour

The handset's case is rugged ABS plastic and should survive being dropped better than most consumer cordless handsets. The buttons are rubberized and have a solid feel. In fact, the buttons are nearly flush with the case and require a firm push to accept a key press. Figure 1 shows the 8002's keys and display.

Polycom SpectraLink 8002 Keys and Display
Click to enlarge image

Figure 1: Polycom SpectraLink 8002 Keys and Display

The monochrome LCD display is backlit and has good contrast. The phone's menus are clearly presented and easily understood on the LCD.

The phone has three settings for microphone sensitivity (Figure 2) in order to compensate for the potential of background noise as might be found in a commercial or industrial setting. In my home office this was not a factor, but it does illustrate the thoughtful design of the phone and attention paid to the target user profile.

Background noise settings

Figure 2: Background noise settings

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