We tested Zultys Technologies Inc.s MX250 Enterprise Media Exchange using two models of Zultys IP phones—the ZIP 4x4 and ZIP 4x5—in tandem with the companys MXIE desktop application. While the ZIP 4x5 stands out for its unique teleworker-friendly feature set, we found both phones to be robust, business-class Session Initiation Protocol-based products that will operate with other vendors SIP-enabled networks.
The ZIP 4x4, available for $350, offers a number of features to ease VOIP (voice over IP) deployment and an integrated three-port switch that supports VLAN (virtual LAN) tagging, so only one network drop is needed per user workstation. The ZIP 4x4 also supports 802.3af POE (power over Ethernet), which worked seamlessly with our Hewlett-Packard Co. ProCurve 2626-PWR switch.
We found the ZIP 4x4 ergonomically lacking. The simple three-line status LED screen is not backlit, which made it hard to read in our cavelike testing lab. And unlike the button arrangement in Cisco Systems Inc.s streamlined Cisco 7900 Series IP Phones, the ZIP 4x4s 34-button layout feels cramped and a little confusing.
To ease ongoing administration of remote teleworkers, Zultys $400 ZIP 4x5 combines IP telephone and broadband router features. The 4x5 is based on the same form factor and offers the same telephony features as the ZIP 4x4 and accepts static or dynamic addressing via DHCP (Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol) or PPPOE (Point-to-Point Protocol over Ethernet). The 4x5 also offers a stateful firewall, an IP Security termination point and a DHCP server to let additional workstations access the corporate network.
We installed the ZIP 4x5 in our remote office connected to the Internet via ADSL (asymmetric DSL). Using the ZIP 4x5s embedded Web interface, we configured the device to secure a VPN tunnel back to the SonicWall Inc. SonicWall Pro 330 firewall that protects our test network. We were happy to find that call quality back to the main office was very good, despite our slower network speeds and the use of the compressed codec as dictated at the MX250 in the main office.
We found the ZIP 4x5 particularly effective for remote networks that have multiple static addresses available because we could segregate work traffic from regular home use—although, admittedly, few teleworkers would have DSL service offering a multitude of addresses.
For tighter control over the ZIP 4x5, administrators can remotely manage the configuration using the TFTP (Trivial FTP) server embedded in the MX250 controller.
Both phones ship with a flimsy wired headset, but ZIP 4x5 customers can opt for a $450 unit with a Bluetooth wireless headset, which gives power users extra mobility and freedom at the desk. The headset was a snap to configure and use, although users with large ears may struggle with the clip.
Each phone interoperates with Zultys desktop soft phone and telephony workflow utility, MXIE. MXIE (which costs $50 per user or $31 per user for 250 licenses) installs on Windows or Mac OS X-based desktops and can be used to make calls, check voice mail and faxes, record calls with the PSTN (Public Switched Telephone Network), organize contacts, and trade instant messages with other Zultys users in the organization—all from a desktop computer.