The Grandstream GXV3140 IP Multimedia Phone adds Skype voice and video calling to an already rich suite of multimedia and social networking features.
The newest beta software for the Grandstream GXV3140 IP Multimedia Phone
successfully integrates a Skype client directly into the desk phone, adding
another communication channel for voice and video calling to an already
feature-packed device. However, the phone and its features suffered from
some unsurprising instability due to its beta firmware, although this
instability did not come in the expected places.
With their mobile-device rivals constantly adding more and more features to
what was once simply a phone, desk phone manufacturers have built up their
products in an effort to better match current communication practices. Others,
such as Alcatel Lucent and its My IC Phone platform, have further emulated the
smartphone industry, creating an open application development framework
intended to spur third-party ISV
Grandstream Networks has taken the first route, as shown by the 2009
introduction of the GXV3140. The GXV3140 was packed with features
increasingly common to SIP (Session Initiation Protocol) desk phones: support
for three concurrent SIP extensions and a variety of audio codecs, dual 10/100
Ethernet ports (with power-over-Ethernet support), a full duplex speakerphone,
a 4.3-inch TFT (thin-film transistor) LCD screen, an OpenVPN client and 18
function keys with five more programmable soft keys.
To that standard
fare, however, Grandstream added some novel twists-Internet-ready client
applications for social networking (Facebook, Twitter, Yahoo/MSN/Google
Instant Messaging); media sharing (Yahoo Flickr photos, Internet radio and
Last.FM for music); a built-in calendar that syncs with Google Calendar; and a
Web browser and RSS reader.
With its built-in 1.3-megapixel still and video camera and a preconfigured
free video conferencing network among similar phones, the GXV3140 was already
an appealing and affordable desktop solution at only $249.
This year, Grandstream is extending the phone further, adding a Skype client
application via a new beta firmware bundle. I tested beta software versions
18.104.22.168 and 22.214.171.124 on the GXV3140 and found I was able to easily log in to my
Skype account to synchronize my Skype contact lists and presence status. I
found Skype voice and video calls easy to place and receive. However, call
quality was adequate at best. The received video, in particular, was below
expectation, marred by an overwhelming blue hue. By contrast, sent video
looked comparatively sharp and color-accurate, given the relatively limited
capabilities of the GSX3140's built-in camera.
I experienced many hiccups during my time using the phone's other features,
however. While bugs and crashes are to be expected with beta code, I was
surprised the problems exhibited themselves in existing functions rather than
in the new Skype application. Using Beta 126.96.36.199, I found the GSX3140 crashed
dozens of times when showing video content-video either from a source attached
to the device via the integrated SD slot or downloaded from the RSS news feed
The GXV3140 supports three SIP extensions, with the first line automatically
registered as an extension on Grandstream's free IPVideoTalk voice and video
chat network (made up of other GXV3140 units). I easily registered a
second line to my Trixbox Asterisk server. Switching between the lines was
simple, using the Line/Account selection function key-although with Firmware
188.8.131.52, I occasionally found I could not reconnect to an in-progress SIP call
if I briefly switched to a second extension for another call.
RSS feeds worked well to pull in CNN news feeds, as well as weather, stock
quotes, horoscopes and a quote of the day. Users can also input their own feeds
into the RSS reader.
Device configuration can be done either via the phone's front panel and LCD
screen or via the built-in Web server. Typing can be tedious using the
front panel-downright impossible if application passwords use special
characters-but users can attach an external keyboard or mouse to the phone using
the included USB port in order to ease data
entry or navigation.
The GXV3140 also comes with a 3.5-millimeter headset jack, as well as RCA
audio video outputs to connect to external devices such as headphones or a