Polycom SoundStation IP 5000

Product Review: Polycom SoundStation IP 5000

This feature-rich VoIP conference phone is a good fit for small work areas that don’t have a big teleconferencing system installed.

Designed for small conference rooms and meeting areas, the Polycom SoundStation IP 5000 is a Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) conference phone that can bring big features into all the little nooks where people work.

While most large conference rooms in government are already equipped with some type of a big teleconferencing system, many of the smaller "huddle rooms" and work areas do't have anything other than perhaps a standard office phone. Adding SoundStation IP 5000s into such a space can give people working there many of the same features of the big rooms without blowing the budget.

Advantages

The SoundStation can work with a standard power adaptor but has Power over Ethernet (PoE) built in, so finding a power plug isn't a problem. In testing, drawing all power using just PoE, the phone never paused. The Sound-
Station also has the necessary Session Initiation Protocol so that it can work with any VoIP system provider or as a stand-alone, peer-to-peer unit.

The unit itself is surprisingly small, with three arms reaching out in a tripod configuration that is 11.4 inches long at its widest point. It weighs just over a pound.

Each of the arms on the Sound-Station has a powerful microphone with 360-degree coverage. It's rated to be able to detect sounds up to 7 feet away in all directions. In testing, the unit was actually able to easily hear people speaking from 10 feet away, so detecting anyone in a small room isn't a problem. And the quality of the calls was perfect, thanks to the integrated Polycom HD Voice software, which brings out both the low registers and the more trebly qualities of different speakers' voices.

The local interface on the unit is also easy to navigate. The information screen is bright and has custom intensity control that should easily meet all accessibility requirements. The keys are large, soft and easy to manipulate.

Why It Works for IT

The SoundStation IP 5000 offers a way for IT managers to give workers the ability to host professional teleconferences from small work areas, rather than having to reserve the main conference room. Calls from the SoundStation are just as clear, and perhaps even better, than ones made from larger, more expensive units.

As a VoIP phone, setup couldn't be simpler. A user can simply plug the base into a free network port, and the SoundStation will connect with the agency's Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol server and assign itself a static IP address. Technically, that means the device could be used as a shared unit if needed, because it can be unplugged and reconnected in another room without having to go through the setup process again. In addition, the configuration data stored on the phone is encrypted, and the unit can be password-protected to prevent unauthorized use. Agencies that worry about adding any unsecured endpoint to their networks can rest easy.

Disadvantages

While the Polycom SoundStation IP 5000 is easy to use and sounds great, it's important to remember that as a VoIP phone, it depends on the data network. Although the digitized sound data is compressed, each active SoundStation needs about 100 kilobits of constant throughput to operate. If an agency's data network is running at full capacity, users may not get a perfect experience with this or any VoIP phone.

Feb 12 2014