Review: Snom One Plus IP PBX

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Snom One Plus PBX

If you've been hesitant to take the plunge into digital telephony systems for fear of the complexity and risk, there's a solution that can help to reduce both while providing your business with a fresh source of recurring revenue. The Snom One is a versatile, low-cost VoIP solution that can turn a customer's existing Internet connection into a new source of revenue for your business, doesn't require a ton of specialized knowledge or training and can be administered easily and remotely through a web browser.

The Snom One series of IP-based PBXes has been in the market for about a year now, but its manufacturer, channel-friendly German VoIP solution provider Snom Technology AG, has been making higher-end products since 1996. For review, Snom sent the CRN Test Center the entry-level Snom One Plus, which comes with PBX software preinstalled and when combined with Snom VoIP phones is ready to go out of the box.

We've looked at a number of VoIP solutions, and we found the Snom One Plus about as easy to set up and manage as a VoIP solution gets. Even without a manual, we were able to power up and browse to the review unit in about five minutes, and that time might have been shorter if a manual or quick setup guide hipped us to the unit's default IP address. Instead, it took an extra minute or so to connect a monitor and discover the address from command prompt.

Once inside, the software presents a familiar tab-based interface for accessing general system, dialing, voicemail and voice response settings, user accounts, telephony hardware and networking utilities such as backup and ping. Absent setup wizards, it was helpful to have a bit of PBX knowledge, but Snom's context sensitive help and online documentation should grease the skids for most features.

Among the administration screens is a clever "Midnight Events" section, which allows for overnight resetting of user-opted features such as "DND" (do not disturb), hot-desking and caller-ID block. We agree with Snom that such a feature will reduce those Monday-morning complaints that "my phone's not working right." The software also offers useful features such as an option to turn off the voicemail "envelope" during message playback and "calling own extension goes to mailbox."

The wording on several options was incomplete. For example, administrators are allowed to set the "voicemail size" for users between zero and 100, but the unit of measure is not indicated. Is that in minutes or megabytes? Also, rather than offering a number of rings, the "time until mailbox picks up" option ranges from 10 seconds to 2 minutes. That's unlike others we've seen. There are several other examples, but none that can't be solved through trial and error.

If you're providing the server hardware, pricing for Snom One software is free for up to 10 users. Handset pricing starts at around $99 per Snom IP phone, which automatically configure themselves once connected to the Snom One host. This is a full-featured voice management system that works with 32- and 64-bit versions of Linux and Windows as well as Mac OS X, and includes conferencing, auto attendant, hunt groups, voicemail-to-email, hot desking, simultaneous desk and cell-phone ringing and dozens of additional features. It integrates with existing CRM systems through CSTA support.

Snom PBX pricing varies depending on the hardware communications options. Calls can be made over plain-old telephone service (POTS) analog lines through PSTN gateways, or digitally over ISDN, T1 or SIP trunking. A runner up in this year's CRN Tech Innovator awards, Snom One is a recommended product by the CRN Test Center.

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