About Me

My photo
TsooRad is a blog for John Weber. John is a Skype for Business MVP (2015-2018) - before that, a Lync Server MVP (2010-2014). My day job is titled "Technical Lead, MS UC" - I work with an awesome group of people at CDW, LLC. I’ve been at this gig in one fashion or another since 1988 - starting with desktops (remember Z-248’s?) and now I am in Portland, Oregon. I focus on collaboration and infrastructure. This means Exchange of all flavors, Skype, LCS/OCS/Lync, Windows, business process, and learning new stuff. I have a variety of interests - some of which may rear their ugly head in this forum. I have a variety of certifications dating back to Novell CNE and working up through the Microsoft MCP stack to MCITP multiple times. FWIW, I am on my third career - ex-USMC, retired US Army. I have a fancy MBA. One of these days, I intend to start teaching. The opinions expressed on this blog are mine and mine alone.

2016/04/30

Yealink SIP Phone Review

Edited 2016-05-02

Yealink has already answered one of the login issues highlighted below – login from outside the edge server.  It would seem that the PKI is not trusted – I assumed it was not as I never put a copy of the trusted root on the device.  So disabling that security requirement allows the device to login from outside the edge server.

clip_image001

end 2016-05-02 edit

Yealink, in their infinite wisdom, shipped me a few units to play with.  When the box arrived, I found the following three SIP phones:  T42G, T46G, and a T48G.  Oddness is the different labeling depending on where you look.  On the boxes for each unit it says “Ultra-elegant Gigabit IP Phone SIP-T4xG” whilst on the web screen for the phone it says “Gigabit Color IP Phone SIP-T48G”; the T42G claims it is a “Enterprise IP phone SIP-T42G”; the T48G and the T46G claim “Gigabit Color IP Phone SIP-T46G” – I love the consistency between the box labels and the internal programmed labels eh wot?

Here are the three devices in the hot seat for this round of testing:  From the left:  T46, T42, and T48.  The 46 and 48 have a color screen, the 42 is a bit smaller with a monochrome display.  The 46 has buttons around the screen, the 48 is completely touch on the screen.  The 42 also has buttons around the screen.  Like the 46, some of the buttons on the 42 work, some do not.

image

Initial Impressions

I want to get on the record with one thing:  I like these phones.  A lot. There are some issues as you will see; but do not let that detract from that first concept – these are nice pieces.

Coming out of the box, all three devices feel solid, well-constructed, and the various ports are well laid out, marked legibly, and everything fit together as expected.  I am sure glad I have a PoE switch handy, or I would have been hurting as none of the devices came with a power brick.

The buttons push as expected, the screens are crisp and have a good layout.  As a Skype-compatible device, it would seem that Yealink has engineered their own GUI interface for the phones for Lync.  As I got the phones, they were SIP Phones, generic.  I had to flash the firmware and upload a license to enable them for Skype.  I expected this, as these units are pre-release, and the fine folks at Yealink had sent me instructions in advance.

Initial setup and login went about as expected. Attaching to internal worked perfectly.  The phone unlock code is nice touch.  User SIP and UPN and PIN login works as expected. 

image

 

On dial out, the phone does not start the call until pressing OK. I am used to seeing a Lync phone take 10 digits and start the call.  Or take 4 digits (or whatever) and start the call.  Other devices in the Tsoorad Test Lab do exactly that.  Mashing the ‘#’ key sends the call as expected. Something to do with a configuration perhaps?

Yes!  Found it.  Settings | Preference| Live Dialpad –> set to enabled.  Yay!  I am told that the documentation for the newest firmware is coming with the GTM which is supposed to be June-ish 2016.  Having documentation will make this sort of thing easier to sort.

image

Choosing your ringtone could be onerous.  When using the web interface, you have to choose one, then save it, then make a phone call to determine what is what.  Driving into the touch screen on the phone itself plays the ringtone for you in real time.  So, choose your management interface and learn it.  When doing ringtones, 6, 7, and 8 are interesting.  And according to choices in the web interface you can upload your own ringtones. 

OTOH, you can login to the phone as admin while someone is logged into the phone as a user.  I like that.  A lot.  A flip side to that is the web interface times out on a very short cycle, and I could never figure out where to lengthen that out to like several hours.

To get the phone to be the correct time, I had to set it as shown.  Using DHCP time did not work, it came up an hour off.  A competitor phone got the correct time from DHCP. 

image 

T48G

Sample calls both inside and outside of the Tsoorad Test Labs facility were flawless.  Audio quality is really very nice impressive. The 7 (seven SEVEN) inch screen is really nice.  Touch.  Color.  I like it.  Here is the T48G.  Check out the color screen.  In phone terms, huge.  My old eyeballs have no issues reading the screen on the T48G.

image

T46G

The T46 has a smaller color screen than the T48 and the layout is different.  The functionality is the same, just things are in a different spot due to the interface being different.  Call quality, materials, and look and feel remain in the “dang this is a pretty nice unit” category. The T48 is all touch-screen and the only buttons are the dial pad and buttons down there; The T46 has buttons all the way around the screen – but only some of them are operational with the Skype firmware.  If you broke out Mr. Tape Measure, the T46 is also somewhat smaller overall.

image

T42G

The T42 is the smallest of the three, with a monochrome display.  Other than Skype sign-in, this unit it pretty much just punch the numbers and make calls.  I never did figure out how to do a conference call with the T42 even though the option is clearly presented.  The T42 is smaller than the T46, but the audio quality and build quality seem to be just as good as the larger units.

image

The Skype Connection

Obviously, or maybe not so obviously, I have only one reason to use a phone handset device like these.  To whit, I work with customers and their Skype projects and I get asked what handsets to use so I have to know.  For myself, I would not use a handset; I have my headset and I am good with that. But for others, a handset is requirement of life.  Therefore, we have Skype phones.  And they need to work to MY satisfaction. 

With the Yealink units, after flashing the firmware on all three phones, the Skype connection was entirely painless.  I inputted my user name and password and the phone signed right into the pool.  You cannot ask for more than that.  PIN login is equally painless. 

I could not get these phones to login to my lab from outside of my firewall.  Claims they cannot find the web server.  Funny.  Other vendors phones work just fine when attached outside of my Edge server. 

A lingering bug in the Yealink software will also prevent you from connecting to your organization from outside your domain and when your account is actually in a resource domain.  For instance, in my real world work, my account is actually in a subdomain of the larger forest.  And the Yealink phones don’t particularly like this arrangement.  I am told that the fix is a firmware revision that is coming with the anticipated Microsoft approval of these phones for use with Skype.  But on this list here the T48G is already listed…so I am now confused.  Which is really unfortunate, as these phones rock with Skype.

BToE

Better Together over Ethernet.  A little splice that goes onto your desktop and joins your phone at the hip to your full Skype client.  Pretty doggone handy for those without a CX phone.  Like me.  I installed the software on a Win8.1 machine and was up and running with the phone is less than 5 minutes.

image

After installing, all you need to know is the phones’ IP and the pairing PIN…

image

…voila!…

image

…and we are magically transported to EV-land, where the Skype client can operate as a softphone, a full web conference client, a desktop share client, a consumer, a producer, and a traditional telephony device user. 

image

So sweet. The Yealink BToE software is clean and well thought out and did not give me any hint of trouble.

Summary

Aside from a software/firmware thing that gets in the way of the phones being successful in two login scenarios – these Yealink Ultra-elegant GIgabit IP Phone units are easily on par with any other vendor device.  Provisioning via FTP is available.  Fellow MVP Grieg Sheridan seems to think that you can update these phones via CSCP tools…I could never find a ucupdates.exe for Yealink – but I also admit I did not look very hard (in my defense, I have one of those pesky customers that expects me to actually do things for them and not sit around dreaming up things to say in a blog article).

I found the materials, construction, and overall quality to be at least on par with all the other vendors out there in phone-land.  And two of these are COLOR.  Squirrel!

Documentation on these devices is extensive.

T48G firmware, docs, user guides, admin guides

T46G firmware, docs, user guides, admin guides

T42G – I am told by my “SFB Sales Engineer” who must remain nameless, that June 2016 will see complete SfB related documentation.  Which I hope applies to the T48 and the T46 also!

I really want to like these phones.  The market needs the competition.  Yealink has done a credible job on producing Skype versions of their existing (beautiful) phones.  So kudos to them for jumping into the fray.  Let’s hope they can iron out a few niggling firmware items and then they will have solid winners for the Skype environment.

You can get your Yealink phones right here:

T48G

T46G

T42G

YMMV

2016/04/18

AudioCodes 405 IP Phone

I used to think that the AudioCodes 420HD was my leading candidate for a low-cost, high-value SIP phone.  Now I think there is a new leader. 

Enter the AudioCodes 405 IP Phone.  I am getting some mixed signals as to how long this model has been on the market, but I just got one the other day and have been putting it to the Tsoorad Test Lab Experience for the last week or so.

image

Here’s a stock photo just to show the difference between a professional marketing photographer and yours truly with a cell phone camera.

image

You can get all the official AudioCodes material here.

Build Quality

Ho Hum.  I wish AudioCodes would ship a unit that would give me something for this section other than “excellent.” If I have to make some comment, the button feel is, IMHO, much better than the 420HD in a side-by-side.  Oh, and the display, while smaller, is crisper with a tad better contrast. While I did not use the handset to hammer nails, the materials appear to be a touch above some other competing vendor’s products.

Voice Quality

Again.  See previous paragraph.  BORING.  Same high standards as before.  Speaker phone volume is nicely controllable.

BToE (Better together over Ethernet) is available should you so desire. Second line, call transfers, conference calls, etc.  All that works as expected without doing anything other than maybe a quick study through the various documentation bits.  Here is the official market-speak pertaining to features on the 405 IP Phone:

The 405 SIP IP Phone is a cost-effective, entry-level IP phone designed to offer the essential everyday features that the modern business environment demands.

  • Graphical, backlit multi-lingual LCD (132 X 64)
  • 4 programmable soft keys
  • AudioCodes Auto-provisioning
  • Full SIP protocol support with extensive interoperability
  • Robust security mechanisms
  • Power over Ethernet (PoE)
  • Multiple language support
  • Integration with voice quality monitoring
  • Full duplex speakerphone and headset connectivity
400HD SIP IP Phone Series Shared Features
  • High voice quality
  • Full duplex speaker phone
  • Robust security mechanisms
  • PoE
  • Out of the box global redirection server support
  • Multi-language user interface
  • Centralized management with AudioCodes EMS

Skype for Business Connection

Seeing as how I make market with Skype, you know I had to connect this to a Skype system and kick the tires, right?  Here is the connections I made:  Ethernet and handset.  Highly technical, eh?

image

After that, it was a matter of a minute or so to input my login information and sign-in.  My lab worked perfectly first time through.  My work account worked perfectly the first time through also.  I literally did NOTHING to this device to make it Lync/SfB compatible; it just worked.  At that point, I had access to all applicable SfB Enterprise Voice functionality.  Without knowing anything more than my account and password.  This would seem to lend itself very nicely to providing a phone to a telecommuter.

You can get your very own AudioCodes 405 IP Phone right here.

Conclusions

A first rate telephony device for your SIP (I sure hope you are running Skype) system.  Excellent build quality, excellent audio, good feature set for the money, able to be centrally managed, part of a larger eco-system of VOIP solutions, etc.  You can’t do wrong choosing this direction.

YMMV.

2016/04/11

Skype for Business Cloud Connector Edition

This is highly reminiscent of watching this Steve Martin classic.

But for those of us who have been waiting for lo! these many months, as of 0900 PST, the CCE is here!

The Skype for Business Cloud Connector Edition is a set of packaged virtual machines for deployment on-premises which connect a customer’s existing Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN) service provider circuits with Skype for Business Cloud PBX operating in Office 365. This allows for the user’s phone capability to be managed out of Office 365 while their phone calls continue to use their existing phone number, circuits and PSTN provider contract.

One caveat – the existing documentation calls for Windows 2012 R2 Datacenter –

image

There is some light at the end of that particular tunnel in that Windows 2012 R2 Standard Edition appears to be valid also using a secondary methodology.  More clarification to the Technet documentation is pending.  Specifically, there is this statement in the reference:

Before you deploy Cloud Connector Edition, make sure you have the following for your environment:

  • A Windows Server 2012 R2 ISO image (.iso). Both Standard edition and Data Center edition are supported. The ISO will be converted to VHDs for the virtual machines that will run Skype for Business Cloud Connector Edition.

You can get started right here:  https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/download/details.aspx?id=51693

YMMV

AudioCodes 400HD firmware v3.04

Those fine folks (and apparently busy beavers) at AudioCodes have popped a new IP Phone firmware release out into the wild. Brings a nice ne...