Cytracom, a channel-only VoIP provider, introduced its first custom-built desk phone, called the D2, this past April, which succeeds the Grandstream GXP2130 units the company utilized before. Like the previous device, the new one is included free with most subscription plans. The D2 features 24 programmable keys, versus the GXP2130’s eight, optional Wi-Fi connectivity, and a digital user directory with real-time presence information. We recently tested the Cytracom D2 and VoIP service.
Is a Phone Just a Phone?
There are plenty of desktop VoIP phones on the market. Why choose the Cytracom D2? It's professional looking, solid, sounds great, and is easy to use. The D2 phones arrive preprovisioned, so there’s no setup required.
When we unboxed the phone, the screen seemed a little small compared with various Cisco phones, as an example. But the D2 relies on buttons around the screen rather than being touch-sensitive. This reduces the number of fat-fingered touches and keeps the bright color screen smudge-free. The screen was plenty large enough, and information displayed could be read clearly.
Four buttons along the left side of the screen, matched by four more across the bottom, are big enough to use easily and always matched up with the screen contents, so there was never any confusion or wrong buttons pressed.
On the right side of the main screen are buttons for voicemail, directory, and hold. Local phone book, local group, and LDAP Directory information are only a single click away.
A second color screen, on the bottom right of the phone, shows extensions and includes digital presence indications. The eight buttons, four on each side of the screen, have green and red lights to show who is and isn't available. Up to 24 users can be shown by rotating through three different pages of the digital presence screen.
The number buttons, silver with black letters, are large enough to avoid misdials and feel solid, not plasticky. A silver directional arrow ring in the center of the phone makes navigation, when necessary, simple.
Even more simple is the initial configuration of our test phone. We plugged it into our Linksys EA9500 Tri-Band WiFi AC2200 router and got a dial tone immediately. No punching buttons to enter connection information or experiencing a delay while waiting for activation, just a dial tone and the ability to make a call right away.
Phone speakers may be a problem if your company uses an open-office plan, but the quality of the sound with this phone won't be. Tagged "HD Audio" by Cytracom, the sound quality was excellent during our testing. VoIP systems can vary widely in quality based on the network and phone, but our calls were uniformly clear, full-voiced, and easily understandable. The only poor-quality sounds that came from the phones were messages left on voicemail by cellphone users. If you must keep conversations quiet, a headset port is provided.
Apple iPhone users can run the mobile app, also introduced in April, and get the same level of information and available services as the desktop phone users. Calls can be routed to just the desktop phone, iPhone only, one after the other, or both simultaneously. We always prefer the dual-ring option, so the caller doesn't have to guess which number to dial to make contact.
Cytracom still relies on Grandstream phones for receptionist and executive models. A variety of Grandstream desktop phones will work out of the box with Cytracom's VoIP service. Wireless phones by Panasonic and conference room phones by Polycom are available from Cytracom as well.
While the preconfigured phone handsets give immediate dial tone, system administration via web portal will be required. The full portal information in Figure 1 will be limited for the MSP, who can see just the PBX information. Only clients can see and configure the Voicemail, Accounting, Insights, Integrations, and Hub displays (we're showing everything for an overview).
Drilling down through the PBX > Extensions > Edit icon under Options shows the extension details. The policy for sequential or dual ring to each extension can be set here. Business hours can be enabled on this screen, which also provides details for missed call handling and SIP.