Conference phones are a crucial part of the modern work environment and the competitive nature of the businesses these days. Without it, a workplace cannot ensure a comprehensive collaboration, which will affect the professional setting of an office.
The phones are designed to allow several people talk to each other at the same time. All the participants have to dial a virtual number to join a virtual conference. The called party may participate or just listen to the person or group that have dialed, depending on the nature of the call. We have also written a complete guide about best conference tables.
Main Types of Conference Phones
These devices make the instant connection possible between a business and its clients and partners. Such a quick, prompt method of communications saves time and provides solutions to other problems. However, you will get the best result only if you can pick up the right type of phone for your business. We have also written a complete guide about best office phones.
Check out the categories so that there is no confusion when you go for the shopping.
Expandable vs Non-Expandable
The expandable versions can connect to additional speakers and microphones, increasing the audio and voice range of the phone. The modules also help in enhancing the sound clarity.
The non-expandable models can also do the same thing but with the assistance of adapter cables and other accessories. The only difference is the expansion modules for the expandable phones come from the manufacturer but you have to buy them separately for the non-expandable units.
The categorization can be done based on the connectivity options used by the phones. It could be an analog, digital, VoIP, or USB model. There is also PoE-enabled (Power over Ethernet) phones. One single unit can use either one connectivity option or a combination of several types.
Each connectivity alternative has its own merits and demerits. You can use the USB for powering up and recharging the phone. Similarly, analog phones can be used in VoIP networks via the use of ATA device.
Some models come with switch ports that assist with connecting peripheral devices to the phone. You can make connections to USB cable, Ethernet, headsets, and others through these ports.
The Advantages of Conference Phones
Clear, accurate, and remote communications are necessary for businesses that need to contact their clients and partners frequently. The conference phones are perfect for any conference room setting for commissioning conference calls without technical difficulties.
Cost and Money Saving
You have to spend much money and time if you need to travel every time for attending a meeting. It’s about lots of annoying hold-ups and costs including waiting at around airports and signing checks for covering the venue expenses. Also, less traveling means more time for productive activities.
It offers less technical issues than some other choices such as a cellular phone. You will experience less dropped class, no poor reception, and no more scattered connectivity. The high-quality models have advanced technologies for noise reduction, microphone clarity, and system integration.
Quick Meeting Arrangements
The phone is perfect for the spontaneous meetings. You don’t have to book a venue, plan for an event, and invite all the participants. Just fix the time, and make the call to the other parties. It’s an excellent option for solving problems that need immediate attention or for the times when you need insight from experts living in a remote location.
It frees you from the bindings of business trips and being present in a specific place. You can hold a meeting at any place that is convenient for you. The fact that conference phones can connect to the mobile network makes your job easier.
Characteristics of High-Quality Conference Phones
It’s necessary to consider several factors while purchasing a conference phone. However, keep these following points in mind should you want a high-quality unit for your office:
These devices do not quite look like a traditional phone. They have a base with three legs featuring a speaker on the center top and a part protruding from one side featuring the keypad and the display.
Some models come with limited features, but some units are highly versatile. You can configure them to meet the requirements of any conference room setting. You can connect it to extra speakers, microphones, and video conferencing systems.
The phones also come with a variety of power options and switch ports. Some have analog connections while others resort to PoE options and network via Ethernet.
A high-quality conference phone should provide top-notch communications. To do that, it has to be integrated with a top-grade audio technology. No matter what brand or model you pick up, it has to deliver crystal-clear sound without voice clipping and minimal distortion.
The built-in speakers and microphones should be able to produce the sound that is free of echo (reverberation) and background noise. The participants should experience a natural flow of communication in a regular setting.
The built-in microphone could be one-directional, sending sound to just a particular direction, or 360-degree radius, enabling full-room coverage. If it’s a full-duplex speaker, it will allow simultaneous communications in two directions. It means multiple speakers can talk at once without creating confusion.
A high-quality conference phone should be fully equipped with all the necessary features to allow seamless engagement with remote personnel and on-site co-workers.
Clear HD-quality audio is the primary feature to look for on a conference phone. However, it’s a plus point if a model comes with a few extra features. Some may have the video conferencing option while others may offer the connectivity choices for multiple speakers and microphones.
You could also have options for Bluetooth, headset connections, call recording, touchscreens, and syncing with other software.
TOP 10 BEST CONFERENCE PHONES IN 2018 – CHART
|1. Polycom SoundStation 2 Analog Conference Phone (2200-16000-001)||Large LCD Display, Ten feet (3-meters) of 360-degree microphone||$$$||4.8|
|2. Polycom SoundStation2 Expandable Conference Phone (2200-16200-001)||Adjustable volume with dynamic noise reduction, 12-Key telephone keypad||$$||4.7|
|3. VTech VCS702 ErisStation DECT 6.0 Conference Phone||2-line Backlit display with date and time saves up to 50 CID entries and 50 Name/number phonebook entries||$$$||4.6|
|4. Vtech VCS754 ErisStation Conference Phone||3-way local conference, USB connection||$$$||4.5|
|5. Grandstream Networks GAC2500 Conference Phone||
Runs android 4.4, full access to the Google Play Store and all android apps
|6. AT&T SB3014 DECT 6.0 Conference Phone with Four Wireless Mics||
up to 8 hours of talk time and 70 hours of standby time
|7. Konftel KO-910101081 EGO Conferencing Unit||LCD screen on base, OmniSound||$$||4.3|
|8. eMeetOfficeCore M1 Conference Phone||
26ft Far-field Voice Recognition, 360° Audio Pickup
|9. Konftel 300Wx Wireless Conference Phone (840101077)||
embedded line mode, Omni Sound
|10. Polycom VoiceStation 100 Conference Phone System||
360-degree, Volume level adjustable up to 85 dB
Polycom is a top brand in the industry of office phone and hardware. Its conference phones have always been feature-filled and deliver a solid sound quality. The SoundStation 2 (non-expandable, analog) version is not an exception. It offers reliable service whether you need it for your office or work from home.
The phone comes with Polycom’s signature three-legged, Klingon starship-like shape. The look is futuristic that can lend a modern touch to even the most ordinary office space.
A stylish grille atop the console is covering the internal speaker and each of the three legs has built-in microphones. The keypad holds 25 buttons including 12 alphanumeric and three soft keys. There’s a monochrome LCD just above it.
It’s an analog phone and you connect it to PoE and computer for Internet calling. There is a 2.5mm jack that allows linking up with a mobile phone and calling from there. It’s a handy feature when you have no access to a landline.
The 5-inch speaker reproduces the caller’s voice in a clear manner. The microphones offer 360-degree coverage up to a 10-foot radius. The audio quality seems remarkable due to the integration of Polycom Acoustic Clarity technology. You will be able to enjoy natural conversation with all the attending parties while experiencing dynamic noise reduction.
The screen displays information like the dialed number, caller ID, phone book entries, call length, and more. It is crisp and offers backlight for easy reading in the dark.
This SoundStation 2 is not expandable, which means that you cannot bring extra microphones into this setup. However, its built-in mics are so high-quality that you won’t need to bring anything extra.
The phone has some admirable functions including mute and volume buttons. There are also settings for adjusting language (from seven options), ringtone type, backlighting, and contrast of the LCD.
- Stylish design
- Remarkable sound quality
- Reasonable price
- Analog line
- Not expandable
Polycom is a trusted brand in the conference phone industry and its products are the reliable solution for any office setup – small or large. The SoundStation 2 Ex is the digital version of the analog SoundStation 2 and also comes with the expandable feature. It’s a complete package of conferencing solutions and delivers the ultimate communications experience.
It looks similar to the SoundStation 2 non-ex version except for the analog connectivity option.The same Klingon starship-like shape lends it a futuristic look and makes a great fit for any contemporary conference room setting.
The organized rubberized buttons are responsive and have the right spacing between them to make the handling comfortable. The keypad also has a monochrome LCD that displays necessary information about the calls and calling options.
You expect crystal clear voice reproduction from your conference phone and the SoundStation 2 Ex will offer you exactly that. It has three cardioid mics that give 360-degree coverage and can pick up your voice up to 10-foot away. The intelligent microphone mixing technology helps in cutting background noise by activating the mic that is the closest to the speaker.
The wireless phone can initiate a 2-way conversation where both the parties will enjoy noise-free, crystal-clear conversation.
The LCD is large enough to display all the information clearly. You will have no problem to read the caller ID and other details.
The phone is expandable. You can connect it to other speakers and microphones if necessary.
Its sound quality is remarkable. The mics are 50% more sensitive than the previous versions, which means that the other party will hear your voice clearly even if you speak in a normal tone.
- Looks modern
- Clear communications
- Can be connected to cell phones too
- Microphones are 50% more sensitive than the previous models
VTech is a giant in the electronics industry and its products have been domination various markets. How good is it in making conference solutions? Good enough to offer a competition to the top players in the market!
The ErisStation VCS702 looks like the usual three-legged starfish that is commonly seen on conference phones. However, it does not share their sleek profile and smooth texture. It looks a bit clunky and old-fashioned but these things seem insignificant considering the features and the reasonable price tag.
It has three microphones – two detachable one fixed, one speaker at the center, one LCD, and a keypad featuring neatly organized functions and menu features.
The main draw of the ErisStation VCS702 is the two detachable microphones that can be deployed at two corners of a room to increase voice range. The one central fixed mic will still be there to cover for those are sitting near the phone.
The full-duplex speakerphone sits just in the center so that everyone can hear the callers with the same clarity. It will feel like talking to someone face-to-face in a meeting. In fact, the background noise reduction, echo cancellation, and automatic gain control features will make the talking more enjoyable than you can even imagine!
However, the voice quality is nothing to die for. If you are already spoiled by the HD-level audio from Polycom and other top-level brands, the VCS702 will disappoint you a bit.
Lengthy meetings or unexpected calls won’t ever be a problem when you have the VCS702. It offers 8 hours of talk time along with 70 hours of battery life for the wireless mics!
The screen has abacklight for clear night vision. It displays date and time too apart from showing the calling and phonebook entries.
A truly innovative option is the magnetic charging bays for the detachable mics. They don’t need any separate charger as keeping them attached to their base will be enough for that.
- Two detachable microphones
- Full-duplex speakerphone
- 2-year warranty
- Clunky design
- Voice quality is not HD
The VTechErisStation VCS754is a SIP-based conference phone that seems to be a great choice because of having a bunch of features at a reasonable price. It is suitable for any business setting that is looking for a reliable call service for its meetings and conference calls.
The VCS754 comes with the usual starfish design commonly found in other models from various brands. However, it’s a bit chunkier and does not have a sleek profile. It will not add to the aesthetic of a room but will do the job perfectly for what it has been chosen in the first place – making conferencecalls.
It has six microphones and four of them are detachable. The speaker sits at the center, covered by the grille. The keypad is simple and the buttons are perfect for basic functions. There is an LCD too that shows the necessary calling information.
The biggest attraction of the VCS754 is the four datable microphones. Place them at each corner of a room and everyone’s voice will be covered during a conference call! In addition, the mics are DECT 6.0 standard and use Orbitlink Wireless Technology – both of which work together to transmit clear voices.
The speaker is full-duplex and has echo-cancellation and automatic gain control features. It means nothing will interfere while you are listening to the other parties.
Nevertheless, the overall audio quality is not up to the mark, considering the HD-level quality.
Each mic offers maximum eight hours of talk time on a single charge. Besides, they will stay standby for an incredible 70-hour period!
The mics don’t require any external chargers. They have magnetic charging docks at the base.
- Four detachable DECT 6.0-grade microphones
- Full-duplex speakerphone
- Mics stay alive for up to eight hours
- Looks old-fashioned
- The overall audio quality is not impressive
Grandstream Networks is a successful brand in producing IP voice and video solutions. Has it retained the same quality for the GAC2500 conference phone too? Absolutely! The company has really upped its game since the launch of the GXP series of IP phones. However, this video conferencephone is a fine addition to the inventory.
The GAC2500 looks like a highly advanced device with its sleek structure and circular design. The absence of buttons further enhances that futuristic appearance. It has a large 4.3-inch LCD touch display and the rest of the top panel is covered by metal grilles.
It has two connectivity options – Wi-Fi and PoE. You can wireless connect to an Internet network or a regular Ethernet cable with PoE. There is a Bluetooth option too for pairing up with external devices or other GAC2500 to create a daisy chain.
The 220-180,000Hz ranging speaker of the GAC2500 will deliver HD-level sound quality every time. You will feel like carrying out a real face-to-face conversation. The audio is clear and the speaker does not pick up any background noise. So, there is no chance for interference or misinterpretation.
It comes with three cardioid microphones that can cover a distance of 12 feet. It means that you can cover a large conference with this single conference unit. The mics also ensure that all the words you say will be delivered to the other party with a crystal-clear voice.
The phone supports six SIP accounts and is capable of seven-way voice conferencing. It means that you can add another six participants to a call.
The GAC2500 supports Android OS, allowing you to access thousands of Android-supported apps. You can use Skype, Google Hangouts, or any other applications available in the Google Play Store.
The Bluetooth option is a cool feature for connecting to headsets and gadgets. You can directly connect your tablets, laptops, and smartphones.
- Looks fancy and stylish
- High-quality sound and seven-way conferencing
- One-year warranty
- The touchscreen should be handled carefully
The SB3014 from AT&T is the solution if you want to make your conference calls more productive but don’t want to drop a big amount for the top of the line products. It comes with a complete package – good quality and decent performance at less than $300!
The SB3014 is a square unit with four protruding arms. The four detachable microphones are rested on the two side arms. The front arm is slightly longer than the others. It holds the display panel and the command keys. The speaker sits atop under a grille cover.
It runs on battery and there are magnetic charging bays at the base.
You can expect nothing else but premium sound quality from the conference phone. It has DECT 6.0 technology that will let you enjoy high-quality voice output without any distracting ambient noise. The six microphones, two wireless and four built-in, offers full-room coverage, giving you the feeling that you are standing just opposite to the party you are talking to.
Besides, there are options for audio equalization and digital mixing. Everything works together to give the users a premium audio experience and reduce error margins at the time of conversations.
The wireless microphones make it easier to transmit the voice at every corner of a room. There is no need to raise the voice to be heard.
You will get 8 hours of talk time on each wireless mic and 70 hours of standby time.
The base station has a backlit display for easy access to necessary information. The phone has all the standard features including caller ID log, phonebook, and other things.
AT&T offers a two-year standard warranty for this product.
- DECT 6.0 technology for premium sound
- Noise-free audio
- Two-year warranty
- Six microphones including two wireless models
- Could be better than offering just two-way conversations
Swedish company Konftel has a strong foothold in the industry of business phone manufacturing. KO-910101081 EGO Conferencing Unit from Konftel will make everyone to praise the next generation audio conferencing solutions. Available at a very reasonable price, the phone is suitable for small space and conference solutions on the go.
The phone looks like a triangular-shaped small speaker. The speaker takes almost all the body dimension and covered with ametal grille. There are two small pads featuring the command options at the right and left sides of the front. There’s an LCD too on the base.
The operation of the phone is very simple as it has just a handful of commands. You can use it right out of the box as it runs on battery and needs to be connected via Bluetooth.
The Konftel Ego is more like a personal speaker than a conference phone because of its size and limited capacity. However, you can use it in a small space for no more than three to four people. It’s compact and you can carry it everywhere you go.
The use of OmniSound audio technology delivers HD-level sound. You can discern the difference in the quality when you will compare it against the speakerphone of a typical cell phone.
The Bluetooth works best and provides clear sound within a couple of feet radius. Going far does not cut the connection but makes the sound softer and less clear. It is ideal for a small conference room or with a couple of colleagues.
The Ego is a nice portable speakerphone that makes it a breeze to carry your work wherever you go. It also comes with a zip up soft travel case that makes carrying easier.
The phone is a great alternative to a headset and could be a great music speaker. You just have to pair it up with your iPod or laptop and play the music from there. It actually enhances the iPod volume like crazy but a MacBook won’t produce the same result.
- Portable and compact
- Doubles function as a music speaker
- Boosts iPod sound
- Bluetooth range is limited
- Suitable for mostly personal use
The eMeetOfficeCoreM1 conference phone is a portable device that takes your audio conferencing to a whole new level. You can join a conversation from anywhere you want. It is perfect for those people who have to travel a lot. The less than $200 price tag seems quite reasonable.
The round-shaped phone features a slick, smooth silhouette. It’s small enough to be fitted inside a laptop bag and stylish enough to compliment a modern setting. The top panel holds the speaker and a control pad with five functions. The layout is nice and looks beautiful with the LED indicators on.
The setup is a cinch as you can run it via Bluetooth or simply use the USB option for plug-and-play. It works seamlessly with external devices such as cell phones, iPods, and computers.
The phone has limited power but it works fine within a confined, small space. The speaker is 360-degree omni-directional, which means that you will hear the sound irrespective of your position.
The Bluetooth distance is 65 feet and the speakerphone supports 26ft far-field voice recognition. You will get crystal-clear voice and sound when you are within the range.
The 5200mAh rechargeable battery is powerful enough to keep the phone alive during long meetings and unexpected conference calls. You can crank music for 20 hours and get one-month standby time.
The phone is highly portable, and it comes with a storage case for easy mobility. Just stash it in your backpack or suitcase and carry anywhere you like.
It produces high-quality sound. So, it works great for streaming multimedia. Pair it up you’re your iPod, smartphone, or any Bluetooth-enabled audio device and enjoy non-stop music for long hours.
The speakerphone is compatible with a range of applications. You can use it for enjoying clear calls through Skype, Avaya, Google Hangout, FaceTime, and more.
- Stylish design
- Crystal clear, omni-directional sound
- Bluetooth feature
- Works for only small space
Free your workspace and desktop from the annoying cord entanglement with this 300Wx wireless conference phone from Konftel. Enjoy the unlimited freedom of taking your conversation from room to room and start a conference irrespective of where you are. The price may seem a bit high, but it will be definitely worthwhile.
The 300Wx has a compact design and simple interface, but it looks stylish nonetheless. The rectangular-curvilinear body has two speakers on the two sides and a keypad with an LCD in the middle. There are total 25 keys on the pad and the screen shows various important information.
The 300Wx could be an integral part of an office setup that focuses on improving the communications. The built-in speakers deliver crystal-clear, lifelike sound and voices because of the brand’s patented OmniSound technology. The noise-canceling, 360-degree microphone further complement this sound system. It cancels the background noise and makes sure that a conversation can be carried on without any confusion or miscommunication.
The phone has excellent connectivity options. You can directly connect it to your mobile phone and computer. The location will never be a problem again for making a call. You can use it at home, office, or in the middle of a jungle!
One great quality of this phone is you can record calls on an SD memory card. It is aneffective way to listen to the conversation later and keep references for a later date.
The 300Wx supports the encrypted DECT technology, allowing top-grade VoIP calls with any outside interference. You can also connect it to USB and cell phones at the same time for multi-party calls.
The phone has a high-performance battery to give the users full freedom of being wireless. It offers a backup of 60 hours of talk time, which means you can use for almost a week in a single charge.
- Long battery life
- Two-year warranty
- Call-recording facility
The VoiceStation 100 from Polycom is an excellent conference phone system that offers a budget-friendly means of conferencing for small businesses. It is suitable for small office setups, and the price is unlikely to be a burden for small and medium companies.
The VoiceStation 100 comes as a set that includes the phone console unit, telephone jack, power module, cable to RJ-11 port, cord to console, and user guide. The main console looks like Polycom’s signature three-legged, starship-like shape.
There are three microphones at the three ends and a speaker atop the console. The keypad has 19 keys, but there is no display.
The VoiceStation 100 is a small phone ideal for small space. The acoustic clarity technology can deliver crystal-clear sound, and the full-duplex speakerphone transmits that to every direction in a room. The mics and the speaker have aself-canceling echo. So, there will be no disturbance while you are talking over the phone.
It is capable of providing a simultaneous 2-way communication, and the audio will be clear enough for maximum four people. You will feel like talking face to face, without any necessity to raise the voice or repeat over and over.
The phone is connected to both analog PBX (private branch exchange) and public switched telephone network service. The PBX allows for switching calls inside an office setup.
Most of the Polycom products are equipped with a bunch of extra features. The VoiceStation 100 won’t disappoint either.
It has an RCA output jack to connect to an external recording or broadcasting device. You will rarely find this feature in phones at this price range. You can record the call for future reference or for catching up on later.
You can crank up the speaker’s volume up to 85 dB, which is pretty loud since a diesel truck at 40mph creates 84 dB noise.
The phone also has a data port and buttons for redial, hold, mute, and flash, which make it more functional.
- Stylish look
- 360-degree crystal-clear audio
- RCA jack for recording or broadcasting
- One-year warranty
- Suitable for small office space only
Does the Number of Participants Matter?
Yes, it does. It actually depends on how many people will be speaking, not how many are present in the room. Only the phones with advanced features can process multiple voices without creating reverberation. No matter what is the size of your boardroom, you should buy a phone that is suitable for at least four people.
Which One Should You Choose? Analog or VoIP?
As you have known from the above discussion that you can get either an analog or VoIP conference phone. So, which one is better?
Well, the analog phone is similar to a traditional desk phone. It works by connecting to a standard phone line network. It is cheaper and suits a small office environment or low-budget companies. Some businesses also don’t want to upgrade because they are not familiar with the more advanced VoIP system.
On the contrary, the VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) telephones are the better option in each regard. They transmit calls in the form of digital signals through the Internet. They are similar to IP phones but offer some more flexible options. They deliver higher sound quality, more automated functions, and more customization options for better performance.
The good news is you can still connect an analog phone to an IP network and enjoy the VoIP functions. You will need a device called ATA (analog telephone adapter) for this purpose. However, it won’t give access to all the features that a VoIP telephone can provide.