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You're here: Sipura 841

Sipura SPA-841 review, configuration and installation guide

Quick Review

Note: If you are looking for the Sipura SPA-841 Installation and Configuration User Guide, then you can download it from here.

I recently received my new Sipura SPA-841 VoIP phone from VoIP Supply in the USA. The Sipura SPA-841 is like many other VoIP hardphones that uses the Open Session Initiation Protocol (SIP). The photo below shows my new Sipura SPA-841 on the left and my old Grandstream Budget Tone 100 on the right.

The other alternative to hardphones are softphones, which as the name implies is software that resides on your PC. One of the main advantages of a hardphones over softphones is that your SIP phone is always on and does not need your PC to be switched on in order to make or receive telephone calls.

Released earlier in 2005, the SPA-841 is a relative new comer to the SIP hardphone market, and is the first hardphone to be released by Sipura. Although it's their first hardphone to the market, Sipura are an experienced company in the SIP arena. Sipura have previously produced SIP Analogue Telephone Adapters (ATAs), which are devices that allow you to convert your regular Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN) equipment (such as faxes and phones) into SIP devices, thus allowing you to use your PSTN equipment on cheap OpenSIP-based VoIP networks. Sipura have transported all their existing ATA functionality into the SPA-841, and have retained the same type of web-based configuration interfaces that have become synonymous in their ATA devices.

So you are probably asking why I have decided replace my existing Grandstream BT100 with the Sipura SPA-841. The following brief comparison between these two hardphones discloses why.

Comparison between SPA-841 and BT100

The SPA-841 is a relatively cheap hardphone, coming in at $84.99 for the 2-line version. The 4 line version (via a firmware upgrade) is an additional $30. At this price you can afford to update your SIP hardphone.

However, I did not upgrade because the SPA-841 was cheap. One of the main reasons I upgraded was the ability to have upto 4 SIP accounts into the device. This effectively means that you can have upto 4 incoming telephone lines on the same device. For many people, this "mutli-SIP account" feature is not a high priority. However, the SPA-841 is a must for those of you who are running more than one business and want to be contacted on and array of different numbers. Also, the ability to have more than one line coming into the SPA-841 saves valuable desk space as there is no need to have more than one hardphone unit sitting on your desk.

Another reason for upgrading was because of the SPA-841's built in address book. Not all hardphones (including the BT100) have an address book. In the first instance a built in address book may not sound like an important feature. However, in the world of VoIP telephony if you know many people on other VoIP networks, an address book is usually a must . This is because to call a person on another VoIP network you must specify <their SIP number>@<their SIP provider's domain> (e.g. 1234567@sipphone.com). Softphones tend to be feature rich and include features like an address book, and it's for this reason that many people have not yet invested in a hardphone. It is however, still possible to call someone on another VoIP network with a hardphone that does not have a built in address book, but it is an extremely cumbersome and long winded procedure, as follows:

1. You determine the IP address of the other person's provider. For example, ping the domain of the VoIP Service Provider (e.g. sipphone.com) in order to obtain its IP Address.

2. You then enter the other person's SIP number along with some special button presses to get the @ symbol, and then even more number presses to include the VoIP Service Provider's address. Remember, an IP address includes dots, which again are special button presses.

The SPA-841 has a built in address book (or Personal Directory) of up to 100 entries, as shown below in the following screen shot.

Each entry in the address book takes the following format:

n=<some name>;p=<some SIP address or phone number>

where:

  • <some name> is a string of alphanumeric characters that can include spaces (e.g. Joe Bloggs).
  • <some SIP address or phone number> is either a regular PSTN number including the full dialing code (e.g. 0044 1442 393 841 or 01442 393 841) or a SIP account (e.g. 1234567@sipphone.com or 1234567).
    Note: SIP accounts do not need to include the @ symbol and the VoIP Provider's domain if they are on the same VoIP network as yourself. For example, if you and a certain friend both use SIP Phone then you only need to include your friend's SIP number. However, since you may decide to switch VoIP networks in the future it is good practice to always include the @ symbol and the VoIP Provider's domain for every SIP account in the address book.

For those people that never call other VoIP networks, the built in address book is not a necessity. However, in the ever expanding VoIP market where more and more VoIP service providers are emerging, the built in address book looks like it will become a necessary feature for all modern hardphones. Although the SPA-841's address book gives you the option to store 100 entries, I do hope that with future firmware upgrades that more than 100 entries will become available.



Last modified May 2, 2007 | © 1997 - 2007 Robert Wisbey | Top | Site Map