Which Polycom Audio Conference phone?

IP 7000The recession of the past few years has forced businesses, and indeed anyone who needs to communicate with others, to look at how they conduct their meetings.

This has led to a big re-think and for businesses to question the validity and expense of send a group of people to meet together, when sometimes a conference call will suffice. Accommodating this increase in demand for conference services has been challenging for the telecommunications industry, with a series of cloud based and traditional telephony alternatives, to suit anyone's audio conferencing requirements.

Polycom has varied their portfolio of audio conference units to interface with these different and varied requirements. The question "which Polycom conference phone do I need?" is one we often have to answer, so here's a basic guide to get you started.

Standard Analogue Units

Polycom Soundstation 2 LCD

Polycom 2 LCD
This is the classic conference phone that set the benchmark for the others. The now iconic triangle or 'spider' phone as it is sometimes referred to, works on an analogue line or socket. It can dial out directly or it can dial a number or prefix to get an outside line. Simple to use, it has an LCD display to show the number dialled, duration of call, and other useful information.

Duplex technology allows two-way speech - so two people can speak a the same time without any annoying 'clipping' - so you can have a good discussion (or argument!) without losing the context of the conversation. The HD (high definition) sound quality also makes this a winning product. It is the most popular audio conference unit sold.

Polycom Soundstation 2 Ex

Polycom 2w
An expandable version of the Polycom Soundstation 2 LCD, this unit allows the attachment of 2 external microphones to cater for larger conference rooms. The mics are attached via leads to the main units and extend approximately up to 2 feet from the units, to enable people furthest away from the unit, to be heard clearly. The main unit remains the only speaker. The mics are a useful feature, and add value to the standard Soundstation 2.

Polycom Soundstation 2w Basic / Polycom Soundstation 2w Ex

In some cases, the users want the units to be used in more than one room, or the room in which they want to hold the conference does not have the necessary socket to support the unit. To overcome this problem, Polycom have added 2 DECT wireless products to the range - a basic, and a unit that can be extended using 2 mics in the same way as the standard Ex version.

In the same way that a cordless phone has a base unit that is connected to the phone socket and the power supply, with a separate handset that marries to it using DECT connectivity, the Polycom 2w variants work in the same way.

The base unit is plugged into the phone socket and PSU, and the actual conference phone can then be used up to 30 meters away. The mics on the 2W EX are attached to the main unit via lead that are up to 2 feet long. The satellite unit is rechargeable and will give 8 hours talk time.

These 2 variants are valuable additions, providing levels of flexibility that complete the basic end of the range.

Polycom VTX 1000

VTX 1000
The audio conferencing standards have been redefined once again by Polycom with this top of the range Polycom VTX 1000. Crystal clear natural voice communications, with maximum expandability and coverage, make this the 'best in class'.

It operates in the same way as those mentioned previously, through an analogue port (socket), with additional mics for extended coverage. A sub-woofer can be added to improve the depth of the audio, further enhancing its performance. Built in noise reduction can dramatically reduce the background noise.

The coverage is billed by Polycom as for a room up to 54' x 40', with participants able to speak naturally from 2-20 ft away. In practice this solution is used in conference rooms and lectures theatres in any environment – from universities to boardrooms.

IP Conferencing Units

This is the solution for anybody who simply wants the best.

Polycom Soundstation IP5000 - Polycom Soundstation IP6000 - Polycom Soundstation IP7000

IP 5000
To cater from the increasing number of users converting to IP or Cloud based solutions, Polycom market a 3 product range. These are simple to configure and work on 99% of SIP based platforms.

The entry level is the Polycom IP5000. This unit boasts all the features the 2 more superior units, but at an affordable price. It counts fully duplex speech and a compact footprint among the many benefits.

The middle of the range, and most popular, of the Polycom SoundStation IP collection, is the Polycom Soundstation IP 6000. It is a superior IP conference phone system incorporating Polycom's industry leading SIP software which is compatible with a broad range of SIP based - VoIP platforms. This includes Best4systems own Avalle VoIP solution for businesses.

HD voice technology gives the conference call clarity as natural as a face to face conversation. The ability to add up to two extra microphones with a 12 foot microphone range, means that you can be assured every word will be heard!

Other features include an application port that allows for an alternative connection for a softphone via your computer; a high resolution LCD display, providing a range of vital call information like time and date, 200 names in the directory and multi-language support.

The Polycom IP 6000 is either POE (Power Over Ethernet) or you can buy a separate PSU if this is not available over your Ethernet.

IP 7000
Finally we have the flagship Polycom IP 7000. Incorporating all the features of its companions in the range, but also harnessing the futuristic good looks and cutting edge HD voice technology you would expect from the world's leading audio conference phone manufacturer.

A robust phone set for SIP-based VoIP platforms, it is ideal for executive offices, conference rooms and board rooms. Featuring Polycom's HD voice technology it boosts productivity by reducing listener fatigue by making stuttered conference calls into crystal clear interactive conversations.

The Polycom SoundStation IP 7000 is the most flexible and expandable conference phone ever developed! You can connect two units together, microphones as well as multiple call control interfaces with this model. A further feature includes a large multi-line high-resolution LCD scene with a full XHTML microbrowser, applications include advanced three-party conference features and a LDAP corporate directory integration.

Further Reading

More information is available on the Polycom Website, About Polycom Wikipedia Entry or our blog articles at Choosing the Conference Phone and our Polycom Conference units here