In May of 2010, I began asking my team about how to make green VOIP solutions. It resulted in Telewebtech’s 3 Keys to Green VOIP. At the end, I was not sure if companies would be more interested in our 3 Keys to “save the environment” or just cash? The reason was a Germany-based company, Snom, and their 300 Series VoIP Phones. Their report on the 300 series phones was released in 2008. I even used their head-to-head calculator to evaluate some similar phones from competitors and see the estimated carbon and financial savings. You can do the same here (link), though they no longer link to it from their top page.
Because of Snom’s comparison tool, and the internal standard for green system design, I wanted to personally research the quality and usability of the Snom 300 VoIP Phone. Snom was kind enough to let me demo one. Here is an overall assessment, read on for details. On quality, the design offers a compact and solid build, somewhat more than similar phones from other brands that I’ve used. My engineers have been surprised that a standard level VOIP phone (the 300 Series features the 320 and 370 as well) is so well-rounded and stable. In addition, it is complimented by an intuitive web interface.
Quality: the User’s Viewpoint
The phone itself has distinctive design that features a balance of sharp corners and smooth curves. At the same time, the large buttons and clearly defined options makes it a standard phone. It has not been over-thought and pulled from the comfort of an average user. It’s a great desk phone because it is solid enough to feel in your hand, comfortable in the hand as well, and stylish enough to be seen as an executive-class phone.
Interestingly enough, it has what I will call a “commit to commit” function that allows the user to review which outbound line they are dialing from. This is a great feature for home office use when a second line is set up as the home line, or a tech could set the outbound caller ID to a user’s cell, a second business, or the local number for where the user is calling to keep the neighborhood company feel to the client. It’s the first VoIP phone (easily over 5 now) where I have experienced this as a natural level of checks and balances. That’s a big quality bonus for teleworkers.
Usability: the Engineer’s Viewpoint
Sure they are VoIP techs, but they took a new phone with a new back end and had it set up on my desk and connected to our Open Voice System without problems in under 10 minutes. According to them, this is a great intuitive back end. For those with a little less tape around their glasses, it could probably use some styling to make it easier to navigate and less visually aggressive. It also offers interfaces in over 20 languages for the multinational users, a whole bevy of ring options, and many settings can be adjusted through the phone itself.
Seeing Snom show the difference 100 phones can make (like votes, 1 seems too small to matter), gives us a chance to evaluate some of the other small decisions we make. Most importantly, the green choices we make can carry higher quality and usability expectations. I’m not alone in hoping that the Climate Saving Computing Product Catalog will eventually add VoIP phones. The essential fact being, many user systems show a huge chance for conservation. Until then, it is difficult to accurately compare most phones on the eco-standards, but that does not mean the effort should not be made.