Product Name: TalkSwitch TS-48-CVA
Spec Sheet: TalkSwitch TS-48-CVA datasheet
Estimated Price: $1795.00
Pros: Supports analog and SIP phones; easy to configure; loads of features
Cons: Doesn’t support Linksys SIP phones; Configuration software only runs on Windows
For small- and medium-sized businesses, going VoIP is no easy matter. The choices are complex and confusing.
Because of the perceived risks, most small and medium businesses are not ready to move completely to Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) in one move. Instead small and medium businesses are looking for an incremental transition from the world of analog to VoIP.
TalkSwitch offers an upgradeable line of hybrid PBX systems to fit the need — starting with the TS-24-CA supporting two lines and four extensions and continuing to the TS-48-CVA supporting 16 lines and 32 local and 32 remote extensions.
The TS-48-CVA is the top PBX model from TalkSwitch and offers both analog and VoIP support.
The newly released version 4.0 of the PBX software now extends VoIP support beyond trunks to the extensions, allowing an organization to use both analog and SIP phones.
For this review, we tested the TS-48CVA with version 4.0 software, a TS-400 phone, a TS-600 phone, a Polycom SoundPoint IP 601 SIP phone, and an Aastra 390 analog phone.
Build and Design
The TalkSwitch PBX is an upgradeable solution; it can expand as your business needs expand. The unit opens up and accepts 2×4 and VoIP add-on modules.
The system offers a combination of both both analog and VoIP trunks and extensions that is missing from many PBX solutions targeted at small-business.
The TS-48-CVA comes in a small table-top or wall-mountable (wall mounting template included) form factor. Its foot print is smaller than a Linksys SPA9000/SPA400 setup — ideal for a tight wiring closet. All the cables connect in the rear of the unit and the front side has power and line status LEDs.
A minimum of 30 minutes of voicemail can be stored internally, upgradeable to a maximum of 9 hours via an expansion slot on the side.
Installation and Ease of Use
The TS-48-CVA comes with an easy to follow instruction manual. We found it to be one of the easiest phone systems to setup. The instructions for the TalkSwitch are easier to follow than the Linksys SPA9000 configuration wizard.
The configuration software (Windows only) installs and automatically detects any TalkSwitch devices on the network. If an Ethernet connection isn’t available, configuration can also be done via serial or USB ports.
The configuration software is intuitive and the documentation is well written and available in pdf format. In future versions of the software, we would like to see context-specific on-line help, instead of having to find the section of interest in the pdf documentation.
To use the VoIP features, a network connection is needed. Finding the public WAN IP address can be a challenge when using NAT, but TalkSwitch pre-populates the Public IP address with a public WAN IP address checker server.
Version 4.0 of the TalkSwitch software added support for SIP phones. We tested the Polycom SoundPoint IP 601. The TS-48-CVA automatically configured the phone once the phone was set to use the TS-48-CVA as the tftp server.
End-user usage of the phone system is straight forward and easy to learn. Quick reference cards for each end-user are included with the system.
The TalkSwitch PBX has more features than expected for a small and medium business PBX solution.
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Performance and Innovation
The TalkSwitch PBX is a good solution for small and medium businesses. The ability to integrate analog and VoIP is often lacking in small business solutions. Its modular ability to grow is especially important to budget-sensitive businesses.
Upgrading the phones can quickly exceed the cost of the phone system. Many small businesses will want to keep their analog phones and upgrade as budget permits.
The hardware for line (FXO) ports and extension (FXS) ports is one of the most expensive parts of a phone system.
TalkSwitch pricing may, at first, appear high when compared to other VoIP PBX solutions. But taking into account the additional cost for the FXS ports, TalkSwitch is less expensive.
The world is transitioning from analog and digital proprietary phones to SIP phones. Version 4.0 of the TalkSwitch software adds support for SIP phones.
The system will even automatically configure Polycom and Grandstream SIP-based phones.
We had limited time for testing, but we were unable to get a Linksys SPA941 to work with the TS-48-CVA. The phone would register, but calls would not go through. Linksys has a big part of the U.S. market and TalkSwitch plans to add support for the company’s VoIP products in a future release.
The TalkSwitch PBX is a good solution for small and medium business looking for a hybrid analog and VoIP PBX.
We really like the simplicity and ease of configuration it offers. The documentation is clear and well written. Moderately technical people can setup this PBX.
The breadth of features offered by TalkSwitch is surprisingly impressive given the size of the system.
In the future, we would like to see TalkSwitch add SIP support for the Linksys SPA-series phones. The SPA phones are very popular with small and medium businesses in the U.S.
Even though other vendors are not making them either, we would also like a configuration tool for non-Windows (i.e. Mac) platforms.
The TalkSwitch PBX’s upgradeability and simplicity make it a fit for businesses without dedicated phone staff or the need to pay the high prices of the local phone system service company.