Colorful New Application-Enabled Phone from Polycom

Just about six months ago Enterprise reported on Polycom Inc.’s premium SIP-based desk phone, the SoundPoint IP 560, designed to meet the needs of enterprises deploying converged voice-and-data Gigabit Ethernet networks.

Today, Polycom announces the next step in that evolutionary path, the SoundPoint IP 670, a six-line SIP phone that combines the GigE connectivity with Polycom’s HD Voice technology, had a color screen, and supports Polycom’s Productivity Suite for SoundPoint IP Phones, released in March of this year.

In case the Productivity Suite is a new one on you, here’s a brief rundown. It’s the first bundle of software utilities (that we’re aware of) designed to extend the use of phone hardware for communications-related tasks traditionally accomplished by other means.

Perhaps the most obvious of these is corporate directory access. With the Productivity Suite in place users of SoundPoint phones can do direct lookups by dialing the letters of the intended call recipient’s name, and then pushing a single button to dial the call.

Conference call management is another Suite member, giving users the ability to convene, split, mute, and otherwise manage conferences of up to four parties. Local call recording, another Suite function, might well be used in conjunction with conference calling.

Real-time call quality monitoring is also possible with the IP 670 (and other SoundPoint units). Telchemy’s VQMON software (see our recent analysis of Telchemy) is embedded in the phone, sending quality information to the monitor during the phone call itself. Finally, there is provision for third-party call control, opening up the phone to data exchange with such entities as unified communications systems, for display of presence/availability information, and the like.

For a video demo of the Suite, go here.

Getting back to the SoundPoint IP 670, it supports advanced SIP functions, such as shared lines, presence status, and text messaging. The color screen comes with a selection of 14 background displays (essentially screensavers) and the ability to display customized backgrounds, such as company logos. An integrated XHTML micro-browser lets users connect with Web-based applications—including the Productivity Suite.

There is a snap-on color expansion module available for the IP670. Up to three can be added to create a full color attendant station with enhanced call handling abilities.

Infonetics Research analyst Matthias Machowinski called the SoundPoint IP 670 “a good choice for organizations that are pursuing a standards-based communication strategy and are planning to embed applications on the phone.” The fact that the unit operates at GigE throughput rates is “noteworthy for power users,” he commented, as the phone does not “introduce a new congestion point on the network.”

The IP670 is in the process of being certified with Polycom’s constellation of call control platform or “VoIP Interoperability Partners,” which includes Digium/Asterisk, 3COM, BroadSoft, Sylantro, and many, many others.

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