Out with the old and in with the new Polycom VVX-500

I work for a communications company so I should have a really good phone on my desk right?

Well not exactly, I tend to get whatever I can scrounge from the dev or demo pool. We support over 80 different handsets from six different vendors so there are almost literally 100s of phones on the bench in the development office or the demo suite, or just stacked up on shelves in a store room for regression testing or in case anyone ever reports an interop problem that we need to investigate.

Last time I found a phone out of this stockpile that that was worth “borrowing” was when Polycom obsoleted the Soundpoint IP-601 in favour of the IP-650. That was about 6 years ago! At the time, the IP-601 was a really nice phone that met my needs perfectly. The first open SIP handset that I know of with an LCD based BLF pad, and because it had been replaced by the IP-650 it was easy to have it move quietly to my desk.

Yesterday, that IP-601 mysteriously rebooted in the middle of a conversation with a customer. Not good when you work for a phone company! Come to think of it, it spontaneously rebooted one day last week too. I’ve never had a problem with it before so I’m thinking maybe after 6-years, old age is setting in and I should pension it off.

About 10 seconds later, Steve tells me that Polycom recently sent us a production sample of the VVX-500 and he has finished bench testing with it but it could do with hammering in a production environment. Bingo! in common with everyone else in the office, I’ve been trying to wangle a way of getting a VVX-500 on my desk ever since I saw the first beta sample. Now it doesn’t do to be blatant about this and pull rank to nab all of the good stuff but he walked straight in to that one!

The VVX-500 isn’t new to us, we had beta samples and integrated support for it into our PBX builds before the public release so it is well supported by recent PBX firmware. I also demonstrated this phone at last weeks google hangout so some of you may have seen it there. Just about everyone who sees the VVX-500 in the flesh thinks that it is a thing of great beauty. This is however the first production unit we’ve had and certainly the first time I’ve used it in real life.

I have to say after using for a day, I am convinced that all phones will look like this in a few years time. An intuitive touch screen interface is instantly useable by anyone who can work a smartphone and this replaces the huge desk eating form factor with myriad buttons on older phones. At the same time it maintains quick, uncomplicated access to basic functions like making and receiving phone calls for users who “just want a phone”. The north/south/east/west/fire buttons, which were in my opinion the least-bad way of navigating complex menus are a thing of the past. This is rather ironic because as far as I know these were pioneered by Polycom and are now just blindly copied by everyone else entering the market. I guess the goalposts just moved!

Stop Press: Steve tells me that my old phone is running out of date firmware and an upgrade will probably fix my rebooting problem so I can have the 601  back when I have finished testing the VVX-500. Don’t hold your breath, it could need a lot of “testing”, probably several years worth!

About Rob Pickering

Rob is a reformed software engineer who has spent much of his life developing computer networking applications and infrastructure. His career started in the 1980s with hands on development of the Internet TCP/IP protocol stack through a spell as a development manager at 3Com in the 1990s before founding ipcortex where he is currently our CEO.
This entry was posted in commercial, technical. Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Out with the old and in with the new Polycom VVX-500

  1. Pingback: Bring Your Own Device – the death of the desk phone? | IP Cortex Ltd

Leave a Reply