ZyXEL WiFi Phone Review

ReviewsGary Mazo

We have all see then ads on TV or on the Web – VoIP phones are all the rage. Voice over Internet Protocol phones allows phone calls to anywhere from your computer and the pricing policy is aggressive and much cheaper than land lines or cell lines.

Enter the ZyXEL WiFi phone – it is sort of VoIP with a twist. Read on to see if this phone is one that is worth the money. What if you didn’t need a cell phone? With WiFi just about everywhere – what if you had a WiFi phone that could call anywhere using any WiFi hotspot or connection? The idea sounds like a great one….in theory.

This is the possibility of handsets like the ZyXEL P-2000w. This phone is based on the SIP (version 2) open standard and should allow you to do just what I suggested in the previous paragraph.

The Technical Data is a little overwhelming – but here is the ‘official line’ from the manufacturer:

Mobility and Availability

The call control protocol of the P-2000W is based on SIP v2 (Session Initiation Protocol version 2, RFC 3261) open standard, which is interoperable with major SIP-based call servers, IP-PBXs, and other standard SIP-based client devices. The P-2000W_v2 is compliant with the IEEE 802.11b standard and interoperates with any existing 802.11b or 802.11g wireless AP and gateway. It may be used as a cordless handset for residential users or for business users in an office environment. The small form factor of the handset is easy to transport and allows users to place VoIP phone calls in public 802.11-based environment.

High Voice Quality with Low Communication Costs
The P-2000W_v2 is capable of tagging features that support a service provider’s QoS (Quality of Service) planning, such as ToS (Type of Service). It allows gateways or central side equipment to identify and prioritize voice and data traffic. By supporting G.711 and G.729 voice compression technology, the P-2000W_v2 effectively reduces bandwidth consumption caused by voice traffic.

Travel Charger Design for Mobile Users

The P-2000W_v2’s travel charger design makes it easier for users to carry and use the phone in different site. The mobile phone style design also let user to have similar and better experience to use VoIP service.


Direct IP-to-IP Call and Ad-hoc Intercom Mode Support

By configuring a remote IP address in the built-in phone book, the P-2000W_v2 provides a direct IP-to-IP call feature when there is no intermediate SIP proxy server available in the network. The P-2000W_v2 an also establish an 802.11 ad-hoc network (computer-to-computer network without Access Point), which allows users to use the handsets as wireless intercoms.

Wireless

* IEEE 802.11b support
* Frequency band: 2.400 ~ 2.4835GHz
* Channel: FCC Ch1~11, ETSI Ch1~13, Japan Ch1~14
* Data rate: 11 / 5.5 / 2 / 1 Mbps
* Output power: 17.06 dBm
* Sensitivity: -82 dBm@11Mbps
* Operating range: Out-door up to 300m, In-door up to 75m
* 64/128 bit WEP encryption
* Support site survey and wireless profile
Voice
* Support open standard SIP v2 (RFC3261)
* SDP (RFC2327)
* RTP (RFC1889)
* RTCP (RFC1890)
* CODEC support: G711, G.729a
* G.168 echo cancellation
* Silence suppression
* Voice Activity Detection (VAD)
* Comfort Noise Generation (CNG)
* Message Waiting Indicator
* Built-in phone book
* QoS support TOS / DiffServ
* Standby time 13~24 hour (Depend on wireless environment)
* Talk time 3.2~4 hour
NAT Traversal
* Outbound proxy
* STUN (RFC 3489)
* Manual configured WAN and SIP address

Network

* IP address assignment: Fixed IP, DHCP client, PPPoE
* HTTP, TFTP, TCP, UDP, DNS, ARP, ICMP
Management
* LCD screen displayed menu and keypad settings
* Built-in Web Configurator
* Support secured HTTP Auto-Provisioning
Physical Specifications
* Dimensions: 127 (W) x 45.7 (D) x 20 (H) mm
* Weight: 105g

Hardware Specifications

* Notification: Ringer, Vibration
* Display: Mono-LCD, 112X 64 dots
* Buttons: 0~9, *, #, 11 functional keys
* Port: One ear-phone jack, one USB-type connector for charger
* Battery: 3.7V, 1350mAh
Operation Environment
* Temperature: 0o C-40o C
* Humidity: 20% – 85% (non-condensing)

System Requirement

* Available 802.11b or 802.11g access point
* High-speed Internet connectivity
* A CD-ROM drive
* Windows 98SE, ME, 2000, or XP

OK – Now that that is out of the way, let’s look at how this intriguing phone performed.

Design:

The ZyXEL looks like an older generation cell phone. The phone measures 5.4 by 1.8 by 0.7 inches and weighs 3.8 ounces. It is comfortable to hold – but a little big to stash away. If your goal is to use a WiFi phone in your home – then the size really doesn’t matter that much.

The phone feels like it is quite sturdy – the construction is good and the feel of the buttons is satisfactory. The phone sports a monochrome screen which gives the user all the data needed. In today’s world of nice, colorful screens – it is a little amazing to me that ZyXEL chose to go with an old fashioned monochrome screen.

There are the traditional Green send and red end buttons, a modified D-pad for navigation and two sort of ‘soft keys’ below the screen. One brings us the menu and the other lets you scroll through stored contacts.

Setup:

Let’s just say that setup is incredibly complicated. The Instruction manual is very detailed about how you first turn the phone on, do a site survey, search for access points and then attempt to connect.

If that works – you are in business. If not, the procedure is very technical and frustrating and will most likely necessitate a call to technical support.

These paragraphs come from the ZyXEL web page and attempt to explain the benefits of this kind of setup and the options it allows the user. If you can make heads or tails out of what this means – then you are more technically savvy than I and will most likely not have any problem with setup issues.

The call control protocol of the P-2000W is based on SIP v2 (Session Initiation Protocol version 2, RFC 3261) open standard, which is interoperable with major SIP-based call servers, IP-PBXs, and other standard SIP-based client devices. The P-2000W_v2 is compliant with the IEEE 802.11b standard and interoperates with any existing 802.11b or 802.11g wireless AP and gateway. It may be used as a cordless handset for residential users or for business users in an office environment. The small form factor of the handset is easy to transport and allows users to place VoIP phone calls in public 802.11-based environment.

The P-2000W_v2 is capable of tagging features that support a service provider’s QoS (Quality of Service) planning, such as ToS (Type of Service). It allows gateways or central side equipment to identify and prioritize voice and data traffic. By supporting G.711 and G.729 voice compression technology, the P-2000W_v2 effectively reduces bandwidth consumption caused by voice traffic.

Ease of Use:

Once the ZyXEL is set up, it was actually quite easy to use. A simple turning on of the phone and it obtained my IP address, connected to my router and I was ready to go.

Calling is as easy as dialing the number. The cool thing about this phone is that it works like an actual phone….you know what I mean. It makes calls, receives calls and stores numbers like a typical home phone handset – but it is all over the WiFi connection.

Call Quality:

This was a mixed bag with the ZyXEL. Sometimes, I heard an echo on my end. Sometimes, people on the other end said I sounded ‘far away.’ Other times, call quality was clear and loud.

I did have some issues with drop outs every so often. Instead of a complete disconnect – I found that my caller was still on the other end and I needed to repeat what I had said.

Options:

When hitting the ‘menu’ button, a list of sub menus (each with separate options) is displayed – these were: information, call history, phonebook, net settings, SIP settings, settings, wireless and restart.

I found than unless the user has trouble with the connection – it is best to stay away from most of the sub menus. Just let the thing do its job as a phone.

Battery Life:

Along with the complicated set-up issues, this was the achilies heel of this phone. Battery life was a paltry two hours MAX – whether I was using the phone or not. This meant that for all practical purposes, the phone needed to be plugged in when not in use. This is not a big deal if you use it as a WiFi phone in your home – but if you are a mobile traveler trying to use this in HotSpots – I would imagine the short battery life would be a problem.

Overall Conclusions:

The ZyXEL P-2000W is fascinating technology. This is a first generation, true WiFi VoIP phone. It has issues. It has set up issues, battery life issues and call quality issues. That being said, it is small enough to travel with you and it connects to wireless routers and the calls are cheap through many VoIP providers.

If you are an early adapter and want to hold the ‘future’ of wireless communication – then maybe this is for you.

If you are not technologically savvy and want dependable call quality and good battery life – then you might need to wait for the next generation.

Overall Grade: B-

Pros: Good build quality, cool technology

Cons: Poor battery life, so-so call quality, monochrome screen

The ZyXEL P-2000W is available at: http://us.zyxel.com

Prices range from $150 – $199 at many On line merchants.

Written by Gary

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