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Linksys SPA-941 Business phone


Author:  Kerry Garrison
Date:  2006.04.18
Topic:  Networking
Provider:  Linksys
Manufacturer:  Linksys







With all of the great features this phone offers, there are a few things that I would expect from a phone in this price bracket. Most importantly, there is only a single network jack. While that may not sound like a big issue, it does mean that you will either need a second network drop at each desk or you will need a small switch at each location that will have both a PC and a phone. This could dramatically increase the total cost of ownership. The upcoming SPA-942 will add a second ethernet port as well as power over ethernet ability.

Secondly, I don't get the concept of having to pay extra to enable the second pair of lines. When I questioned Linksys about this, they explained that an upcoming firmware update will enable all four lines but you will still need to pay extra to use more than two accounts on the additional lines. I am totally satisfied with that.

Ok, so we have one complaint that is being taken care of and another that I personally think is fairly important, so I am going to throw in another pet peeve of mine, for a phone of this level, I would like to see a backlit display. There are VERY FEW phones on the market at any price with backlit displays so this cannot be seen as a strike against the SPA-941 in particular and more a complaint about the generally accepted design decision to not include it on mid-high end phones.

In the end, only the single ethernet port is the only real gripe that I have with the phone.

Usage

For system administrators, the SPA-941 supports standard automated provisioning over HTTPS, FTP, or TFTP. If you are setting up a number of phones, this is well worth the effort to get set up. For smaller installations, the phone will grab an IP address via DHCP, using the menu system, you can scroll down to the network settings to find the assigned IP address. Once you have the IP address, you can now bring up the admin interface from a web browser by pointing to the IP address of the phone.

To get the SPA-941 setup on an Asterisk PBX requires only a minimum of settings. After logging into the Admin screen, go to the EXT 1 tab, set the User ID to the extension number you want to assign to it, set the password to the extension password, and set the Proxy to the IP address of the PBX server. This will get the phone up and running. To really take advantage of the phone, you will need to set the Voice Mail Number on the Phone tab to “*97” for the message button to take you automatically into voicemail. There are a number of options on the Regional tab that you can configure to work properly with your dial plan.

As you may have noticed, the current version actually still has the Sipura logo on it thus contributing to the phone's identity confusion. However, regardless of the logo, the phone does have a number of additional features over the older 841 model including high end features like VLAN tagging. With an improved shell, more features, better sound, better display, and better “feel”, the 941 is a heck of a lot more than a repackaged model.

Results

There are a few names that really stand out at the head of the crowd when it comes to VoIP phones, names like Polycom and Cisco always rise to the top. The Linksys SPA-941 certainly shows its lineage to the older 841 phone but also has had major influence from the Cisco side of the house. What you end up with is a great mid-range phone that is right at home in any business environment. The Linksys SPA-941 is not perfect, but then again, ther isn't a perfect phone made yet but for $150, its better than other phones in the same category. The quality and appearance of the 941 is sure to impress business users who would otherwise choose the Polycom 301 at a comparable price. The Linksys SPA-941 is well worth taking a look at, its quite a bit more than a budget phone in a nice package.

Linksys SPA-941 Business phone
Retail price: $149.95

Kerry Garrison is the IT Director for ServicePointe, Inc, a southern California IP telephony consulting company. Kerry is also the publisher of VOIPSpeak.net, a VOIP portal of VOIP news and information.



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