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Collaborative Work: Should You Fall For A Zoom Or Team Phone?

The two collaborative software publishers discreetly offer an offer for fixed telephones. But what is the point of investing in a Zoom Phone or a Team Phone? Decryption. A “new category of equipment”? That’s how the Zoom Phone Appliances were described to us when they launched in June. In practice, it is, above all, a new category… in the Zoom catalog, under “Telephones.” There are currently three models. All are positioned at the top of the range (recommended new price: more than €500 excluding tax). And all equipped with what to use both Zoom Phone (telephony) and Zoom Meetings (video).

At Microsoft, there is no “Teams Appliances” category. But we are offered many equivalent devices. They appear among the “Teams desk phones and screens.” Whether it is Zoom or Microsoft, we are dealing with “off-the-shelf” equipment, unlike Cisco, which designs its equipment (associated, among others, with Webex). Overall, the experience is less extensive – and less harmonized – than on PCs, tablets, and smartphones. Features, when supported, usually come out of step. Illustration on Teams with the transcript of the calls (in English). Or the customization of the background, added in June, almost a year after its integration on desktop. 

And on Zoom with the ability to specify where calls are saved. Behind the Zoom Phone Appliances, there are currently two manufacturers: Poly and Yealink. The first with the CCX 600 and 700 models. The second with the VP59. In both cases, we are on an Android 9 base, with an HD color touch screen (1024 x 600 at Poly, 1280 x 800 at Yealink). While the CCX 600 works with an external camera, the CCX 700 embeds one. On the VP59, it is removable. All these models have, as standard, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, PoE (Power over the Ethernet port), and USB ports. The VP59 adds an HDMI output.

Hardware Signed With Poly And Yealink

Poly and Yealink also supply hardware to Microsoft. The latter also relies on AudioCodes, Crestron, and Lenovo for its “Teams phones” offer. It has around twenty references, some of which are also adapted to Skype – or even designed for it. They rub shoulders with a few “Teams screens” and “Teams panels,” which are characterized by the absence of a keyboard and handset. As with Zoom, the most expensive of all is the VP59, with or without its expansion module (4.3-inch screen, 20 programmable keys). 

Throughout the catalog, base prices range from single to quadruple. Among the less expensive, there is another Yealink model: the MP50. It is a “USB phone,” so it will be used as a peripheral for PCs and smartphones connected by wire or Bluetooth. Microsoft recently started certifying devices in this category. Especially AudioCodes. They are compatible with other communication applications but have the particularity of including a Teams button. This is one of the elements that earn them a certification. Microsoft highlights a few others:

  1. Use of the notification LED
  2. Calendar integration and connection to meetings “in one touch.”
  3. Deployment and management via the Team’s admin center

Among the other features available as standard on these devices:

  1. Native authentication or via another terminal
  2. Access to contacts, call history, and voicemail
  3. Availability and call waiting for management
  4. Delegation
  5. Hot desking (session management)
  6. The compatibility list is gradually expanding to “classic” IP phones (not equipped with specific firmware).

Currently, there are the following models:

  1. AudioCodes 400 HD
  2. Cisco with MPP firmware (6821, 6901, 7800, and 8800 series)
  3. Polycom (VVX)
  4. Yealink (T20, T30, T40, T50)
  5. Zoom also has its catalog of certified phones. We owe them to AudioCodes, Cisco, Poly, and Yealink. All comply with a set of requirements, including the management of TLS 1.2.

However, supported features vary significantly from model to model. Whether during a call (transfer, escalation in a meeting, etc.) or in configuration (assisted provisioning, shared directory, do not disturb, etc.).

An Offer Of “As A Service” Programs

Depending on the Office 365 / Microsoft 365 subscription in which it fits, Teams offers a more or less extensive functional base. It is possible to add modules – for a fee – giving access, for example, to a telephone exchange, (inter)national call packages, or meeting personalization tools. There is also one to be able to join meetings with external numbers. But it will soon come as standard. With, in the background, the increase in the price of the suite.

At Zoom, telephony pricing starts at €7.44/month/user with the Zoom Phone Pro plan (outgoing calls billed on a time-spent basis). And at €13.99/month/license for Zoom Meetings Pro (which notably lifts the limit of 40 minutes per meeting). Hardware can also be purchased directly on subscription as part of the “Hardware as a Service” program. At the time of its extension to France in early 2021, 16 phones were available (9 Poly, 7 Yealink), in addition to a DTEN screen and a Neat kit.

Microsoft has an equivalent program but has not yet opened it to France. It is available in the United States, Canada, Australia, United Kingdom, and Ireland. There are various packs with 24 or 36-month commitment and financing options, including leasing. At the end of the contract, three solutions: take one back, continue monthly or cancel and return the equipment. Competitor on the software side, Google is not on the other hand on the hardware.

In any case, not quite: no phone in its catalog, but different types of devices. Kits based on Chrome OS computers. Three providers: Asus, Lenovo, and Logitech. We go from the simple fixed PC (Chromebase) to sets with a camera, speaker/microphone, touch screen, and additional modules. A device certification program accompanies the package. There are brands like AVer, Biamp, Huddly, and QSC. As well as an in-house product: the Jamboard whiteboard.


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