snom Launches New Phone Platform

As one of the few phone vendors that just makes phones, Berlin-based snom technology AG is gaining an expanding foothold in the North American market for SIP-based IP endpoints.

Yesterday, at the VoiceCon conference in San Francisco, the company announced—and showed off—the snom 820, first in a new line of phones that feature high resolution color displays and other ground-breaking features.

“The 300 series phones are not disappearing; they’re our bread and butter phones,” business development director Mike Storella told in a briefing last week. “But as the public wants to see color displays.” Indeed the 820’s 320 by 480 high-resolution color display is a first for the company.

The 820 is also a piece of high industrial design—the work of a renowned German design firm—and a totally new look for snom. “We’re very very proud of this new design,” said Storella, “with a new, high-angle footprint.” (See photo.) “Actually,” he pointed out, “it can be at a high angle or a lower, 35 degree angle.”

snom 820 desk phone
sleek new snom 820 desk phone

A potentially game-changing new feature is hidden in the back of the sleek case: a USB port into which a Wi-Fi dongle can be plugged. “This allows the phone to be Wi-Fi and get its connection that way,” Storella said. “I think we’re the first ones doing that.” True, as far as we know.

So, imagine you’re one of the increasing numbers of companies that’s deploying Wi-Fi rather than wired IP networks in its facilities. What do you do about phones? Up to now, the only viable solution would be a Wi-Fi-enabled cellular mobile phone—or running a wired phone network to people’s desks—pretty much defeating the point of having a wireless LAN in the first place.

Another first for the snom 820 is the ability to manage five-way conference calls. Most IP phones max out at three-way.

For companies that still use wired networks, the 800 series phones, like their series 3xx predecessors, incorporate Power over Ethernet, obviating the need for a separate power supply.

Other established snom features that will take their place in the 8xx line include –

  • full support for ‘wideband’ (also called high-definition or HD) audio—as well as the super-high-quality KlarVoice handset
  • an XML mini-browser capable of doing directory look-ups or handling other HTML applications, such as news feeds
  • support for multiple security technologies—SIPS and SRTP, as well as the ability to function as a VPN client
  • support for video streaming (from a video camera, not a video-phone)
  • the ability to integrate directly with Microsoft Office Communications Server 2007 (OCS)—the first open standards SIP phone to do so
  • all the PBX features we expect to see on an office phone: hold, park, transfer, shared line appearances, headset connection, and the like

    The snom 820 is available now. The list price is $419.

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