New Phone Family from Zultys

Zultys Technologies never intended to be a phone manufacturer. But when their first sophisticated IP, all-in-one-box MX phone systems were ready for release, they realized that the quickest way to make all of the MX functionality available on the desktop was to build their own phones.

The company has never looked back, and today, they announced four new members of the ZIP phone family—the ZIP 4x4L and 4x5L, with monochrome displays, and the 4x4B and 4x5B, with full color screens.

One thing that sets this generation of ZIP phones apart from the first is appearance. That first generation was based on “off-the-shelf plastics,” according to Zultys vice president of product marketing, Patrick Ferriter. “These are completely our own plastics,” Ferriter told, much sleeker in design and more in keeping with what customers “expect from a VoIP system manufacturer.”

Internally, all four phones share a number of new capabilities and features. First, all use SIP call control, for interoperability with a broad range of SIP devices. Further, all share a newly designed acoustic chamber for the speaker phone. “A lot of thought’s gone into the design and the acoustics of this, so the speaker phone has almost the same quality as that on the BTC [Bluetooth Conference] phone,” Ferriter said. Advanced echo cancellation and a patented jitter buffer round out the features aimed at maximizing sound quality.

Then again, customer feedback suggested that being able to plug a headset directly into the phone—rather than having “to go in series with the handset, as on our older models”—would be very desirable. Accordingly, the new family have standard 3.5 mm pink and green connectors built right into the back of the phone body. (These can also be used to hook any of the ZIP models to the company’s BTC unit.)

Like their 4×4 and 4×5 predecessors, all of the new phones offer multiple Ethernet ports with true line-rate switch. All have the 20 keys and 15 buttons that allow the phones’ features to be accessed directly, without having to dig through layers of menus. All have the ability to encrypt conversations when talking with similarly equipped phones. And, finally, each of the new ZIP family support four “call appearances,” meaning you can connect to four separate calls simultaneously, and hold conferences with up to five participants.

In addition to their color LCD screens—which, according to Patrick Ferriter, allow a simpler menu structure and provide the ability to display pictures and photos in idle mode—the B models sport a USB port and offers an optional Bluetooth headset (a $50 extra).

Beyond wireless headset connectivity, the Bluetooth technology can be used to to link the ZIP unit to the BTC. But a USB port on a phone?

Well, keep in mind that these “phones” are really computers. (All ZIP models incorporate a Freescale Semiconductor PowerPC processor, and the high-end models have a Freescale DSP unit as well.) The USB port can handle all manner of input/output tasks for the onboard processor. The first one Ferriter mentioned is downloading ringtones. “You can pull those right off your USB port,” he told VoIPplanet.

But it gets more interesting. These phones can be configured in vastly different ways. Multiple configurations can be stored on a USB “drive” and interchanged more or less instantaneously. If, for instance, you had to work from home occasionally, you can have your “home” configuration—with VPN and firewall—ready to go. Just take your phone, change the config and you’re in business.

Other application possibilities for the USB port are connecting a recording device for call recording, and—really interesting—attaching various authentication devices, such as card scanners or thumb-print readers, for phone-system security

The two 4×5 models are specially equipped to be home or remote phones. Added to the office phone functionality is a router with VPN, firewall, network address translation security, and a DHCP server—as well as an analog port to provide local PSTN connectivity. So remote workers can have the best of both worlds, access to local POTS service and IP connectivity with all the main office’s PBX functionality.

Although four models are being announced today, only the 4x4L is immediately available. The remaining models will be released “over the coming four to ten weeks.” Pricing is as follows: 4x4L is $350; 4x4B is $450 without Bluetooth, $500 with; 4x4B is $400; 4x5B is $500 without Bluetooth, $550 with.

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