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Tom's Holiday Buyer's Guide 2008, Part 1

Syspine Digital Operator System
By: Ed Tittel

Okay, we admit we’re climbing a long way out on a technological limb by including this product in our Holiday Buyer’s Guide. The Syspine DOS A50-4XFO is a four-port Voice-over-IP (VoIP) phone system that can handle 4 IP or conventional telephone handsets and hook them up to an Internet broadband link to provide telephone access. It’s sufficiently expandable to accommodate up to 50 handsets in all, with the purchase of additional IP phones, at no additional licensing costs for the base station. This device is essentially an industrial-grade, passively cooled IP-based Private Branch Exchange (PBX) server appliance that is compact enough to fit in just about any room or office space.

Better yet, the DOS A50 is built around the Microsoft Response Point (MRP) architecture. In addition to its basic PBX capabilities to set up telephone lines, provide handset-to-handset inside calling ability, use outside lines for external calls, and park and forward incoming calls; the DOS A50 adds a whole new world of affordable functionality to small telephone systems. A Microsoft wizard guides you through setup in minutes (much faster than conventional IP PBX systems) and requires no specialized IP telephony knowledge. Ordinary mortals can set this system up by themselves and start using it quickly and easily.

Other snazzy features of the DOS A50 include voice recognition. Thanks to MRP, this phone system can recognize most spoken works accurately and consistently. This changes the way users place calls—they need only pick up a handset, press the Response Point button (a compelling reason to look into acquiring some of the Syspine SYS-310M IP handsets for about $130 a pop), and speak the call recipient’s name. The system will retrieve the related phone number from a company directory or your Microsoft Outlook address book and call the recipient for you. For those who use the phone a lot, this can be a tremendous productivity boost—no more memorizing or digging up phone numbers with automatic access to all numbers in your online directory or address book. PC screen pop-ups provide incoming call information with audible alerts for users, and a “click-to-call” feature enables placing calls from your PC using Assistant software included with this phone system.

The DOS A50 also features a remote, network-based management console that targets unsophisticated users. Its simple and user-friendly interface enables you to setup a new phone in minutes, to change preferences for voice mail or call handling quickly and easily, or create call distribution lists. A small LCD on the face of the DOS A50 enclosure always provides up-to-date status information and helps diagnose and solve problems when they occur.

A price of $1,500 is a lot to spend for a phone system, but it is not so much for a small office or a big, busy household. For those seeking to move phone technology into the 21st century, playing Santa with the DOS-A50 could pay all kinds of unexpected dividends.