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Service Provider Partners

The VVX-1500 is on the vanguard of a new wave of high-end IP phone with multimedia capabilities. Polycom is working with a cadre of partners to ensure that telecom service providers are able to leverage the capabilities of the device. While that process is ongoing, the list of certified VVX-capable service providers is still relatively short, with service providers principally leveraging the Broadsoft Broadworks platform:

My own experience suggests that a truly open and SIP-compliant service provider can work well, even if they’re not on the list. Junction Networks / OnSIP works for me and they had no experience with the VVX-1500 before I told them that I was using it. However, some advanced features, like video voicemail, require that your service provider offer deep support for the VVX-1500. So before you make the investment in VVX-1500s, you should check with your intended ITSP to ensure device compatibility and depth of feature support.

For businesses that rely upon on-site PBX equipment, the VVX-1500 is certified as compatible with following list of IP-PBX systems:

  • Adtran Netvanta 7100
  • Epygi Quadro
  • NEC Sphericall
  • ObjectWorld Unified Communication Server
  • Zultys MX 250
  • Digium Switchvox

Closing Thoughts

It makes some sense that in evaluating the VVX-1500 we look at comparable competitive products to see where it fits into the marketplace. That’s not easy. In fact, if you want to compare it to truly similar devices it’s almost impossible.

To start with, there just aren’t that many video capable phones offered by anyone, anywhere. I’ve assembled a table below of the current offerings that I was able to locate online. On the low end of the scale, there are devices that target the home user and, to some degree, small businesses. These are the type of devices that have been offered by those how have pioneered videophone service, like 8x8.

Make/Model Grandstream GXV-3006 Grandstream GXV-3140 Motorola Ojo Phone Polycom VVX-1500 Cisco 7985G Tandberg 150 MXP
MSRP $249 $299 $350-$450 $799 $3945 $2990
Screen Size 5.6” TFT LCD 4.3”TFT LCD 7” TFT LCD 7” TFT LCD 8.4” TFT LCD 8.4” TFT LCD
Touchscreen No No No Yes No No
Wideband Audio Support G.722 G.722 No G.722, G.722.1, G.722.1C G.722 G.722
Signaling Protocols SIP SIP SIP SIP H.323 (coming) SCCP H.323, SIP
Video Codecs H.263, H.264 H.263, H.264 H.263, H.264 H.263, H.263+, H.264 H.261, H.263, H.263+, H.264 H.261, H.263, H.263+, H.264
Network interfaces 2 x 10/100 2 x 10/100 1 x 10/100 2 x 10 / 100 / 1000 2 x 10/100 2 x 10/100
Power-Over-Ethernet No No No Yes Yes Yes
Target market SMB / consumer SMB / consumer Consumer SMB / Enterprise Enterprise Enterprise
Table 1: Video Phones Compared
Video Resolution Legend
CIF = 352x288 pixels
SIF = 352x240 pixels
QVGA = 320x240 pixels
QCIF = 176x144 pixels
SQCIF = 128x96 pixels

The trouble is that in some cases, low end video phones don't have the kind of feature set that a more demanding business user would require. On the high-end, you have very expensive devices from Cisco and Tandberg. The have business class features and assured interoperability with similarly-branded conference suites. These devices, while very costly, just don’t seem as practical as someone’s everyday desk phone.

The Polycom VVX-1500 fits somewhere in the middle of these two groups. It’s definitely enterprise class hardware. It has the features, and build quality demanded of a business setting. It is, in essence, a solid desktop IP phone that is also a resource to the realm of larger videoconference systems. There is no doubt in my mind that the Polycom VVX-1500 is a fine piece of equipment, worthy of any executive's desktop.

Setting aside the matter of video calling, it’s a superb SIP phone with a touchscreen LCD that can be very effective as a display for business related data, given a little effort on the part of your local IT team. But its ability to extend the video conferencing realm to include a single remote individual is what makes it a truly compelling device for mid-sized companies with existing video conferencing installations.

It’s application in smaller companies remains a little unclear to me, however. The idea of one-to-one video calls is just not as compelling as video conferencing in many cases. That use alone may not overcome the initial sticker shock of around $700, just for the phone!

My plan is to study the benefits of one-to-one video calling with a limited rollout of several VVX units to key staff. After a few months of use, we’ll then determine if one-to-one video calling brings real benefits to our business. If not, we will at least have some video capable phones that can integrate with our current plans for boardroom video conferencing.

Special thanks to Chris Veazey from BlinkMind for participating in the test call and capturing the video file.
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