Best of Both Worlds

Can I tell you a secret? I’ve never actually launched a softphone program on my computer.

I was starting to feel like a Luddite. Then I read about Cambridge, England-based Camrivox’s Flexor 500 IP phone, a desk phone that integrates with business applications like Microsoft Outlook and

You could call it the best of both worlds.

First off, it’s a great example of using the IP platform to do something that’s impossibly complicated with traditional telephony. At the same time, it points to the enduring value of the “appliance” approach.

Part of the benefit is a comfortable and familiar form.

“General business people prefer to have a phone on their desks,” says Camrivox VP of Marketing David Moorhouse. “It [the Flexor 500] works in every respect like a phone and extends to desktop applications that people run every day.”

At the same time, a dedicated device can do the job better and more simply.

“Softphones have a lot of issues,” Moorhouse continues. “Getting them to work correctly, getting support, and vying for computer resources. There are QOS problems.”

Here’s how it works. When a call comes in, an Outlook window pops up showing who’s calling. To make a call, you simply click on the “call” button that Camrivox adds to the Outlook contact window. Flexor starts dialing and automatically goes to hands-free mode.

In addition, Flexor logs all your calls in Outlook Journal so you have a single, accessible record of calls. “It’s one place to keep track of everything,” Moorhouse adds.

The Camrivox Flexor 500 sells through distributors and retails for about US$120. It’s SIP-compatible, can be provisioned remotely and can be used with IP-PBXs and hosted VoIP services. You’ll be able to see it at the upcoming VON show, booth #950.