Desktop or Dedicated VoIP Phone – What are my Options?

Posted on: 2016-09-20 | Categories:VoIP Services

Unlike traditional PSTN networks, VoIP systems are not limited to a specific type of instrument or hardware for the end-user. The basic shape, form and function of a telephone has not changed in decades and is familiar to practically everyone, young or old. So many people assume that VoIP phones should also follow the same model and are surprised to find out that there are a plethora of devices that can be used to make and receive calls, but what should you use? A desktop or dedicated VoIP phone?

The Humble PSTN Landline

For a long time  landlines generally came only in 2 flavors – corded and wireless. Whether it is used by individuals and enterprises, those were the only two options available. Although mobile phones are slowly replacing landlines in many households around the world, they are not a clear 1:1 substitute since they use different networks and infrastructure call routing calls. Enterprise phones often had large LCD screens, dedicated buttons for various functions such as peak dialing, call forwarding etc. as well as better speakers/microphones for clear audio quality.

VoIP Phones – What Options Do You Have?

On VoIP systems, the situation is completely different. Those who expect that phones can only ring certain devices will be surprised by the wide variety of devices that can make/receive phone calls. Whether you use a dedicated IP enabled desk phone (similar to old school landlines) or a softphone application on your computer, users are able to access all functions equally well across hardware.

VoIP phones are commonly categorized into two groups – hard phones and softphones. The first group includes dedicated VoIP phones, which look and function just like any other desk phone as well as USB powered handsets. Softphones are generally applications or software that can be installed on laptops, mobile devices and even tablets to make and receive VoIP calls within the enterprise network.

The best part about VoIP phones is that users, numbers and devices are completely independent and are not locked to a particular piece of hardware. For instance, an employee can have a dedicated VoIP phone on their desk while also using a softphone on their mobile device while traveling. Both these clients will use the same VoIP number for incoming and outgoing calls. Similarly if an employee is transferred to another department, they can take their VoIP phone numbers with them to another device. There is no need to assign them new numbers which minimizes confusion.

Desktop or Dedicated VoIP Phones – Which One to Choose?

Now each category of device has its own benefits and drawbacks, so it is not surprising that organizations mix and match equipment as required by the situation. There are very few businesses which rely solely on dedicated VoIP phones or VoIP softphone applications at all times.

Moving away from a dedicated desk phone can be difficult for those who are habituated to having a separate, always on device solely for phone calls. But given the current business environment of working anywhere, anytime, desktop applications or softphones are becoming more popular every day.

Benefits Of Desktop VoIP Clients

The biggest advantage and reason for using VoIP softphones or software is portability. VoIP software can be installed on many devices – computers, tablets and mobile phones. Many vendors make their applications available for multiple platforms including Windows, Android and iOS. This makes it the ideal choice for employees who frequently travel, executives who work out of multiple offices or senior management who cannot always be chained to a desk.

Since the majority of office users are no longer sitting in the same desk throughout the week or year in any business, portability is a major advantage that the organization cannot afford to lose. Desktop VoIP clients are also useful for those who work remotely or telecommute on certain days of the week. It allows employees to work from home in situations where they would otherwise have to take the day off (family emergency, snow days etc).

VoIP applications are not only portable but they also offer the same features and functions available from dedicated VoIP phones. No one other than the employee and their boss need know that they are not at their desk or out of the office for the day. Softphones allow users to take the office with them, wherever they might be.

This is not to say that dedicated phones do not have their place within the enterprise. Quite often they provide superior audio quality and last much longer than other computing devices such as laptops and phones. They don’t have to be rebooted or restarted and can function even when there is no power during an emergency or other disaster.

It is why organizations generally prefer to have at least a few dedicated VoIP phones within the office. For the average employee however, soft phones offer many more benefits than dedicated, corded devices.