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Ah, the Cisco IP 7940, my greatest adversary, always ringing for the provision of bad news or additional work!
I'm not a huge fan of this phone, and not just for the aforementioned reason; but lets start with the good points. It can be connected in a variety of complex and bountiful fashions. As it's wired into a network port, you can have multiple identifiable lines (2) on the same phone, and one line can lead into more than one unit. This is great if you want to set up a call centre, or share a phone line between a few members of a small business or team. Equally, whilst sharing a phone line, you can use your second line as a conduit for personal calls; which is highly practical.
The phone can access a directory of numbers (if one has been created by your business), allows floating identifications (i.e - you can log in and out rather than having a static line, which is good for hot-desking), operates in conjunction with your network answer-phone service, can allow telephone conferencing, and has a variety of hands free, volume and loudspeaker options. This all sounds great, and is probably not an exhaustive list of its capabilities, but that's more or less where my praise ends.
The call quality on these phones is poor. A workplace telephone system should aid you in providing a great communication experience, not hinder you. I work in an environment whereby I communicate with people with different nationalities regularly. Accents and language can be problematic in both directions, and so call clarity is absolutely key to enable you to adjust you hearing, and your communication style so as to develop understanding, or rapport. The dull, muddied tone offered by the 7940 does not lubricate this process, and in fact, actively restricts it. Later Cisco phones resolve this issue substantially, presumably simply by using a higher quality speaker. On such an expensive phone, that is largely dependent on external networking tools to provide the majority of its functions, cost cutting in this department seems sinful.
My second gripe, is that despite being quite massive, this phone only has a basic array of buttons, some of which are quite user friendly (in my opinion), and others which are not. Navigation of the various screens - some of which are required to access functionality mid-call - tends to be a bit cumbersome, as is typing out names with the number pad, and the result of this can be delays in transferring calls etc, unless you happen to have memorised the number you require, or keep your own written/digital records, which slightly defies the point of this phone's functionality!
I don't understand why companies like Cisco don't take their lead from companies like Microsoft, Apple and Google, and make systems simple and efficient to use. Just because someone walks into work and sits down at their desk does not make them a technical specialist; and even if it did, people do not draw satisfaction from using cumbersome systems. The same people using Cisco phones at work, are also buying Android phones and Ipads. These are much more complex devices, with fewer peripherals, that manage to make processes infinitely easier and more time efficient.
Other than these issues, the phone is functional. If it were my business though, I'd expect more, especially considering the large level of ICT resources & expertise these phones require, and thus their overall minimum expense.
This review may have appeared in a similar form on Ciao recently. The account used to make the review was mine under a similar pseudonym and through personal choice I have decided to revoke my Ciao membership, focus only on this site, and move any reviews here. Thank you for your kind attention in this matter. Now for the review...
On first moving into accommodation equipped with the Cisco IP Phone 7940 Series, I thought I'd entered some high-powered business executives office! However, appearances really are deceptive when it comes to this phone.
For practicality purposes, it is a VoIP telephone, and it does the job: you can make calls and receive calls, either by using the handset, or by a relatively well designed speaker system which has a high gain microphone. Hands free conversations therefore are not a problem in the slightest. However, this is about where the benefits of the phone end.
The fantastically large display is almost worse than useless; for the most of the time, it displays the Cisco Systems logo; there is nothing else to display! When making a call, yes the display shows the call duration, but besides showing the number you are calling, it shows very little else. The screen can function as a reminder of the date and time, but both are displayed in small fonts and are impossible to see from a distance. The screen is not backlit either, so other than in light, the text on the screen is invisible.
I was desperately hoping for some excellent functionality with the phone, unfortunately this is missing as well. The phonebook, called 'directories', is clumsily arranged and difficult to manage; even entering a simple name requires a large number of key presses, making the task hardly worth the effort. Unless your provider has made provision for the use of the 'services' button (mine hasn't), then this button does absolutely nothing. The settings button does what it says on the metaphorical 'tin', but unless you are a high end user, you would do well to stay away from fiddling with these: you could end up losing your telephone and internet service by an inadvertent key press! In the settings menu you can change the ringtone: all of the two options are unpleasant to the ear.
All in all from a IP phone at this price, I would expect an awful lot more.
Up until recently there was a wide variety of telephones in my workplace, then they announced we were getting VOIP phones. Chaos ensued for a while due to the fact that we sell Income Protection, thus the name Voice over IP caused numerous people to ask what this new Income Protection product was about. Thus the project to implement these new phones was changed to Mercury (which clearly makes more sense), apparantly Mercury was the god of telecoms (although Wikipedia says he was a messenger and god of trade, which is probably more accurate *citation needed)...
VOIP or Voice Over Internet Protocol is a way of making telephone calls using the Internet (such as Skype). It is often free to call other VOIP users, and calls to other networks and international calls are often quite a lot cheaper. My parents phone Spain a lot and the calls are at least 50% cheaper than with BT.
The main benefit is that you are essentially gaining another phone line, at the expense of some of your broadband capacity, however most people have enough spare that they can still use the internet whilst chatting without any noticeable change in speed. If you have a web cam you can also make video calls, which are again free if you are phoning other users.
The main benefits for us was the fact that we no longer needed to pay for separate phone lines, thus saving a load of money for the company.
The phone itself is quite large on the desk getting on for 30cm across, and 20cm deep and high. They also aren't the lightest and are certainly over 1kg, probably nearing 2kg (i send a lot of packages so have got used to how heavy things are).
There are lots of standard options such as the obviously ability to make a call, redial, call forward & transfer calls. There is also the ability to have a voicemail, logging into your voicemail on another phone, or transferring your number to another extension temporarily.
There is a lot of buttons on the phone which are labelled clearly, such as selecting to use a headset, putting callers on hold or yourself on mute, or listening to calls through a speaker. The speaker volume can be set to be quite high, and the mic picks up most speach within a couple of metres of the phone. The handset itself is designed so that the ear piece directs the noise directly to the centre of the users ear, making it clearer. Also the mouthpiece is supposed to have similar technology so that it reduces any background noise that gets picked up.
There is a fast dial function but I don't find this very useful as you can only store a number, not a name.
We have utilised a directory function which displays missed, received and dialled numbers, plus we have a company wide directory that allows you to search by first/second name and/or by number. You are presented with a list that you can select from and the phone automatically dials that number. This is very useful but currently disabled for us as we are unable to update the directory when people move desks.
I'm not sure what price we paid for these phones but would am sure they weren't cheap, they seem to retail for between 150 and 200 pounds. Dooyoo have some links to potential retailers.
So are they worth it. Personally I would say no, as you can get software such as Skype free from the internet and then buy a cheap headset and camera for under 50 quid from somewhere like PC world or dixons/currys. However for a business then these are probably very useful as you can also set up groups and monitor how many calls they make/receive.
As the market leader in true IP Telephony, Cisco continues to deliver unsurpassed end-to-end data and VoIP solutions, offering the most complete, stylish, fully featured IP Phone portfolio to enterprise and small-to-medium sized customers. Cisco IP phones provide unmatched levels of integrated business functionality and converged communications features beyond today's conventional voice systems.
The Cisco IP phone family includes phones with large pixel-based displays to bring productivity enhancing applications to the phone, as well as customization options that can be modified as needs change, and provide inline power support over Ethernet.