Grandstream GXV3140: Versatile desktop SIP video phone.

If you’re looking for a video-enabled SIP desk phone to use with your VoIP service, consider the $229 Grandstream GXV3140.

No, it’s not cheap, but it’s a phone that does practically everything—possibly more than anyone needs in a desk phone. It does the core functions very well.

The GXV3140 was recently certified for use with Skype. The latest firmware includes Skype already configured. With the phone’s brilliant 4.25-inch LCD and built-in tiltable webcam, you can do Skype video calls right on the phone—no PC required.

Indeed, you can use many VoIP-based video calling services, including Grandstream’s own IPVideoTalk which comes ready configured on the phone and can be used to make free calls to other Grandstream and IPVideoTalk users.

We also tested the GXV3140 with an OnSIP hosted PBX service from Junction Networks, which we reviewed earlier this year here. (It’s possible to set up to three VoIP services or accounts on one phone.)

With IPVideoTalk and OnSIP, we were even able to do three-way conference calls right on the phone—no conference bridge required. (The phone does not support three-way video or audio calls via Skype.)

The phone also supports HD or wideband audio, which on calls between two HD-compatible devices delivers audio quality significantly better than landline PSTN calls.

The bells-and-whistles functionality, enumerated below, will appeal to geeks and may actually be useful in a few cases.

The GXV3140 has a built-in Web browser. It can also function as a Web radio, online video terminal and slide viewer. You can even output media to a TV screen or speaker system.

It supports Google Voice and other social media services with built-in applets. It has alarm clock functions, a calculator, stock feeds, currency calculator, online weather reports, and more, including our personal favorite, a screensaver with brilliant high dynamic range (HDR) landscape photos that show off the crisp screen.

But who would have a phone like this on their desk and not also have a PC or Mac that can perform most of these tasks much better?

The GXV3140’s controls—four softkeys under the screen, a four-way controller with center select button, seven other buttons (some function-specific, some multifunction) and a standard numeric keypad—make for a reasonably intuitive interface.

When using the screen menus and softkeys, the phone’s functions are very easy to navigate. Some of the function-specific buttons require learning and don’t always do exactly what you think they will.

From the home screen, which shows the time and available VoIP services, pressing the Switch Screen softkey cycles through pre-configured pages that include a CNN feed, stock market/weather feeds, horoscope and quote of the day.

Grandstream GXV3140
The Grandstream GXV3140 Video phone

It’s possible to reprogram the softkeys for the home and call screens—to, for example, add Volume Up and Volume Down keys on the call screen, which many users may want to do given that there is no hardware volume control on the phone.

Pressing the Skype softkey launches Skype and logs you in. Or if you simply “minimized” Skype when exiting, leaving yourself logged in, it makes Skype active on the screen.

The Skype screen is attractive, with contacts shown in a list in a panel on the left and contact details or video in the main panel to the right. Tabs across the top give access to call log, chat history, PSTN calling and user Profile.

The out-of-the-box experience with the GXV3140 was generally good. Once assembled and connected to the Internet—a 20-minute task—it set itself up with IPVideoTalk automatically in a couple of minutes.

The included stand lets you mount the phone so it sits almost vertical on the desk for easy viewing of the screen, or only slightly raised. The phone can also be wall mounted, although given the functionality, it’s unlikely many users will want to do this.

The tiltable built-in camera means you can adjust the camera’s view to suit the way you’ve mounted it.

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