Review: ZyXEL VoIP WiFi Phone

19 Comments

It is serendipidty that I am posting the review of ZyXEL VoIP Wi-Fi Phone, Presitge 2000W. It is one of the many new handsets which are going to come to market, and perhaps grant us freedom not only from the tyranny of Baby Bells, but also from concept of location, and accessiblity.

If you had read my earlier post, The Rise of the WiFi Phones, one of the readers posted this very prescient comment: “VoIP over WiFi, will eventually decimate ARPU, expecially MOP (minutes over plan). Thus even as the cellular business has been built on wireless MOUs being substituted for wired, they can’t afford to be co-opted themselves.” I agree, but I still think after using this one phone, we are still ways for the cellular providers pressing the panic button. However, this handset basically within twenty minutes of use has me convinced that the wireline companies are going to be in even more trouble.

Anyway back to review. ZyXEL’s first wifi handset looks and reminds me of an old Nokia phone that was bundled with my TDMA wireless service from AT&T back in the day. It is a simple, yet elegant looking handset, which is small enough to slip into your computer bag, or a handbag. It weighs mere 110 grams and has an easy to grip shape and design. It comes with a tiny dock – plug the dock to an electrical outlet, and let the phone charge. In my tests I found the phone could go without a charge for about two days, with about two hours of talk time. It can handle all sorts of WiFi networks including the 802.11g network in my tiny apartment. But I am getting ahead of myself.

The Prestige 2000W is very easy to use and configure. It allows users to configure with LCD screen menu or web browser. Meanwhile, with the smart auto-provisioning mechanism, ITSPs can easily deploy and manage the VoIP services.

While setting up the phone was a breeze, configuring it was a whole different story. I wanted to attach the phone to my Vonage service. (You must have a softphone account in order to use this phone for VoIP-to-PSTN calls. IP-to-IP calls are fairly easy to make!) ZyXEL ships a manual with the phone, but is a tad confusing. Here is what you need to know before you can start making phone calls. ESSID, or the name of your wireless network; channel being used for the wireless networking, the SIP server IP, your softphone password, outbound SIP proxy server and also the port which is being used for the SIP communications. This is an easy enough for a hardcore geek, but if you happen to be a lovely houlian, I am pretty certain you would be reaching for a glass of Guiness.

Since I don’t own a Windows PC, the easy-browser based software that ships on the CD was of no use to me. I had to input all the information right on the phone, which is okay for a SMS fiend like me, but I am not sure how non-geeks would deal with this. Anyway I got most of the required information quite easily. The first snag I hit was the SIP server settings. I tried using the same server settings on my softphone, but that did not work. The great PR people sent me the correct IP address, but I wonder how the junta will over come this problem.

Once I had overcome this hurdle, it was all downhill. Within thirty seconds of inputing all the correct information, I was on the Vonage network, making phone calls. The phone quality was clearer than the quality I get on my broadband-to-analog Vonage phone connection, or on the softphone. No need to have an ugly headset to plug into your computer. Prestige 2000W looks and feel like a real phone. One thing to watch out though – there is no dial tone, so don’t get confused etc. There are other features which make this is a decent handset – address book and recent call information features take a cue from mobile phones.

Bottomline: I would recommend this phone to geeks, but newbies stay away unless you love a challenge. ZyXEL has produced a great phone, but user experience needs to improve. I think WiFi phones, if they need to fullfil their true potential need to be easier to use for the masses. I think folks like Vonage, VoiceGlo and others should sell these handsets preconfigured to their customers so that there are not too many things to worry about. I think they should be able to manage these phones remotely for grandma to get jiggy with VoIP. Still I think WiFi phones are going to become the “new IT” thing over next 12 months. Okay, now I got to go make a phone call to…

(For further details on ZyXEL P2000W)

19 Comments

Shoaib

Hi all, i am an MSC student. All i want to know is which is the BEST SIP IP WiFi phone out there in market??

I need it for my project and the company i am working with wants me to find out which is the BEST one to go for as later on i’ll be in trouble if its not performing well.

I had a look on internet but couldn’t get a clear picture. All i want is to perform calls in different scenarios and to analyze them.

I want a phone which is the perfect so far, shouldn’t have any problems or nearly shouldn’t have !!!

Many thanks,
Shoaib

D-cat

In answer to the Skype question: Netgear will be making a WiFi phone for use with the Skype service. They have made a prototype and made at least one sucessful call with it. Further information about this phone is scarce. The official site is here: http://tools.netgear.com/skype/

Mitch

So, what were those damn SIP IP address numbers you talk about but never actually mention…?

Thomas Goslee

I just want to say thanks…I’m in Europe and was considering buying the
ZyXEL VoIP WiFi Phone from a new ITSP to try with there service and skype-now I think I’ll wait and keep reading what write.

Kiano Joe

I enjoy reading through this informal place. I will surely visit you again to see if anything new appears on it.
Good luck for the future.

Francis daCosta

VOIP over WiFi is clearly the next IT thing – however it is unclear whether it will be possible to service more than 10 clients on the same 802.11b Access Point.

Studies indicate that while VOIP may work fine within the confines of a one hop network (Access Point wired to Ethernet), it may not work so well in a multi-hop network – as in out door mesh networks.

This has to do with bandwidth degradation with hops for conventional mesh networks and the inverse relationship between bandwidth and latency.

For more see:

http://www.meshdynamics.com/MDPerformanceAnalysis.html

Francis daCosta

http://www.meshdynamics.com

Henrik Clausen

I’m trying out one, and am finding many of the same pros and cons as in the review. One thing not mentioned, however, is the keyboard quality. It’s awful. The keys can click without having the key actually go trough, and you always have to keep your eye on the display to verify that you’re typing right.

One other thing I notice is that my ear is getting quite warm. Must be alot of radiation coming from the thing.

I think I’ll go with a conventional phone over an adaptor box. VoIP itself is certain to go far and wide – will be a lot of fun!

-Henrik

Paul Speese

Om-

Can you provide me the proper SIP proxy IP address you obtained from Vonage to connect the above mentioned ZyXel phone using my SoftPhone account?

Thanks in advance.

beach

Does the phone support simultaneous connections to multiple SIP servers?

Om

i guess that’s the problem. you will have to sit and use that name and password. and re enter it next time as well. these devices are mostly good for the home, or office envinronments

Daniel

How would I go about accessing hotspots networks in Europe ? upon paying for the hourly access you get a username and a code to use on their shell application screen.

Ralf

Skype uses a different proprietary protocol that is incompatible with the SIP standard.

djhomeless

How would an IP phone like this work with online services like Skype?

telnetwifi

VOIP over WiFi is still very unpredictable, QoS is a major issue and most access points can’t handle the encryption and DSP. I have tested most commercial access points and WiFi phones including Spectralink’s and Cisco and they still have issues in the handoff area Don’t forget about the ‘bandwidth” requirement of VOIP.

Navel

Sorry that i am a bit of topic here.
I am looking for technical writer who is compute savvy.
I like how you put your words together. If you are interested could you email me your rates.

Om

hey – thanks for the update. i am not sure about “g” handling and you might be right. i have an apple airport which can handle both b+g and as a result i did not experience any problems. same for the t-mobile hotspots as well. it handled WEP quite well and had no loss of quality or anything. I have not used the Pulver WISP so I will take your word for it.

VoIPGeek

These phones are the same as the Pulver Innovations WiSIP and at least one other brand that isn’t sold outside of the Asian market. It does NOT hand 802.11g — you must have your access point running in b+g mode. Your review doesn’t mention WEP. Yeah, I know it’s not really that secure but if you enable it you’ll lose audio quality with 64-bit WEP and the phone will be completely useless with 128-bit WEP. The phone’s processor can’t handle the encryption along with everything else. There are other WiFi phones on the market and most of them suck. The only exception I’ve seen is Cisco’s WiFi phone but it’s nearly three times as expensive. I have a Pulver Innovations WiSIP and it’s probably the worst piece of garbage you can buy for $250.

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