For the past month, I have used an m3 as my primary phone when away from my desk. The call quality has been as good as any cordless phone I’ve heard, and much better than any Wi-Fi SIP phone I’ve tried.
One problem that I’ve often encountered in other handsets is their limited range of volume. The m3 earpiece was adequately loud, but I did keep it set near maximum volume most of the time. The same was true when using a wired headset. A little more volume would have been handy when working near noisy servers.
The handset also has speakerphone capability that is engaged by a small square button on the left side of the phone. I found that the speakerphone was not very clear and so not especially useful. To be fair, I much prefer to use a dedicated Polycom speakerphone when the situation warrants that type of device.
In general, I think the m3 menus are rationally designed (Figure 5). Most common functions are easily accessible when needed. Access to core settings is protected by a 4-digit pass code, which should be enough to safeguard against curious kids and coworkers.
Figure 5: The m3's main menu screen
As I frequently attend long conference calls, I was happy to see the mute function on the left soft key when a call is in progress. Conference calls can be a lot more productive if attendees are diligent about muting their microphones when not speaking. This simple act of courtesy minimizes background noise and distraction for everyone on the call.
Mimicking the design of a cell phone, there are a limited number of buttons on the m3 handset. I can only wish that manufacturers would take a cue from older cordless phones that use dedicated buttons for functions like hold/resume, transfer, conference, etc. While the extra buttons might make for a slightly larger handset, the increase in usability would make it worth the size difference.
Call Logs and Contact List
Many of the m3’s features clearly follow the menu model established by cell phones. The phone’s call log is a good example of this. The call log is accessed by pressing one button from the main menu. Calls are indicated as incoming, outgoing, or missed. With another key press or two, the list can be filtered to show only one call type at a time. This proved very handy for quickly returning missed calls.
Entries from the call log are easily moved into the m3’s internal contact list (Figure 6). Each contact can have four numbers, corresponding to Home, Office, Mobile, and Other. Contacts can be grouped, and different ring tones assigned to each group.
Figure 6: Adding contacts from the Call Log is easy
Each handset may have its own contact list, or all the handsets may share a common contact list. The contact list allows for 170 entries. Entering contacts on the handset is straightforward, with the * key serving to shift between entering upper case, lower case, or numbers.
Presently, there isn’t a way to provision the contact list from an external source. I would hope that a future release of firmware would make this possible. It would be useful to be able to enter contact details via the web interface, or load them from an XML file on the provisioning server. snom’s desk phones have this capability, so there is an established precedent; however, multiple handsets with separate contact lists could make this feature a bit more complicated to implement.