- Large, clear status display
- easy menu navigation using soft keys
- unusual styling
- No backlight for the status display
- small keypad buttons
- unusual styling
The Polycom SoundPoint IP 301 is quite a large phone, but with generally small, tightly grouped buttons (the round keypad buttons are 10mm in diameter). Overall the design has perhaps a touch of the Memphis Group and Art Deco about it.
The LCD status panel is generously sized at 8.5 x 3cm and has three soft keys arranged below its bottom edge, with the two line/account select keys to its right. One of these keys can be assigned as a speed dial number, rather than a second line select. Below the three soft keys are a blue headset select button and a red mute button, and below those are the twelve keypad buttons. Two small, oval, plus and minus volume buttons are below the keypad. In a vertical row along the right edge of the phone are two rectangular buttons labelled with up and down arrows for menu navigation, a rectangular Menu select button, a Do-not-disturb button, a Redial button and finally a round blue, Hold button. These five buttons can be reprogrammed to provide quick access to other functions. For example, the DND key could be reprogrammed as a call transfer key. Polycom provides five clear replacement keycaps, with pre-cut paper inserts, that can be marked with new legends and fitted to these keys.
The three soft keys are used quite extensively for context-dependent functions. For example, during a call the soft keys have legends displayed above them on the LCD, such as Trnsfr to transfer a call. Similarly, call lists can be accessed by pressing the Menu button and then navigating through Features, Call lists and either Missed, Received or Placed calls, using the up/down navigation buttons and the soft keys.
Although it's far from the worst offender we've seen, for a two-account phone the Polycom IP 301 is surprisingly difficult to set up. The internal Web server has five pages, three of which are protected by user name and password. Factory defaults for these are; user name = Polycom and password = 456. Ten entries, spread between the SIP page and the Lines page, are required for the basic setup of this phone.
For desktop use, the IP 301 is supported at around 30 degrees by a flat plastic baseplate that clips on to two pillars extending below the phone body. For wall mounting this plate can be reversed.
All the connections to this phone are underneath, in a straight row near the front edge. Apart from restricting access to all the connectors, unfortunately this means that the straight, moulded coaxial power connector on the in-line power supply provided, only just fits into the available gap and the power cable has to bend through an extreme angle to exit underneath the phone. A right-angle connector would be a better fit.
Although some people might not like the styling of the Polycom SoundPoint IP 301, it has a large clear status display (unfortunately without a backlight) and provides access to quite a wide range of functions through its soft keys, while keeping the number of buttons on the phone down to a minimum.