Review: Grandstream GXV3140

The GXV3140 from Grandstream packages a pleasing facade with both basic and advanced functions. This IP Phone offers high quality audio, video and additional usable features which attempt to make it the hub of your quickly accessible media and communications experience. The GXV3140 benefits from recent redesigns and functionality across the Grandstream line of devices. Office users will find something to appreciate while home users will find something to admire.

Grandstream is a company best known for their ATA (Analog Telephony Adapter) devices. The Handytone 286, 386, 502 and their new 702 come to mind. They have also offered some low cost IP Phones which feature just the required features and not much more. A couple years ago when they introduced their video capable GXV3000 we bought one and were intrigued at the possibilities. The device still lacked some features but it was a good start. Recently Grandstream has bolstered down and introduced some very sleek product redesigns. Lines are a bit straighter, the color palette is now black with silver accents. All in all these changes have come together to produce a pleasantly attractive device in the GXV3140. Not only this but features and functionality are abundant. Just how useful are they and who would we recommend this device to? Well read on to find out.

APPEARANCE

The GXV3140 comes packaged in a very attractive white box. The, now very noticeable, Grandstream logo is prominently placed on the bottom front left of the box. The actual device is presented in high quality prints right on the front, which gives you a clear representation of what’s in the box.

So what’s in the box? Once the package is opened you are presented with the base phone hardware and the handset. Accessories such as the ethernet cable, quick setup guide, stand and power cable are located neatly packed underneath.

Once you actually pick up the device you notice it’s weight. It isn’t heavy; however there is a healthy feeling to the weight and gives an impression of a solid build. The handset also feels weighted and has smooth ergonomics. This comes in handy later on when you actually use it for calling. The GXV3140 sports a matte black facade with silver buttons and a 4.3 inch screen with a tiltable 1.3MP video camera right above it.

You can attach the stand to the back or use the device flat on it’s back. Ideally you would want to use the stand if you were using the video functionality. Once setup physically the device can be placed on a work desk, in the kitchen or hallway to look professional and functional.

FEATURES

Upon first look the GXV3140 appears to be a simple IP Phone, with the exception of a 4 inch color screen and video camera of course. Ok maybe it doesn’t look “simple”. There are no excessive buttons on the front and this combination helps mask some of it’s more powerful features. Once you have booted up you’re presented with a color rich graphical interface on a blue background. The function buttons, F1-F4, provide the ability to switch between screens housing different widgets, as well as acting as the context actions for the different screens and applications you use.

The real capabilities of this phone becomes apparent when you activate the menu button. You are presented with various features such as the phone book, web browser, personalization, multimedia functions and an applications menu. There is also support for GoogleVoice, Skype, IM, Twitter and facebook.

Applications such as a calendar, weather, alarm clock, calculator and more provide extra features without over complicating the experience with unneeded functionality.

All of these are displayed in a vibrant color LCD screen. There was no ghosting and the picture quality was excellent. This is definitely one of the best screens we have encountered on an IP Phone so far. If we must say something negative; it’s that the gui could use some polishing.

The GXV3140 comes with a built in router to allow your computer to connect through the phone, thus negating the need for an extra port on your gateway. There is also a CD/MMC card slot as well as a USB slot, for a wireless adapter or keyboard, headphone jack and video out capabilities via RC cables.

One thing which we, at Callcentric, absolutely loved is the ability to create a pcap file in realtime right from the web interface. This is a brilliant move from Grandstream and we would definitely consider using these devices from home and in our support environments as a trusted device. If there is one thing we would want, it would be the ability to place calls from the web interface.

We are impressed by the sheer amount of functionality packed into this device and appreciate the ideas. We are however mainly concerned with the telephone capabilities of this device. We want to know whether all of this functionality was provided to mask deficiencies in the core product and to distract from the main functionality or are there to supplement your communications needs.

SETUP

We were generally concerned about SIP functionality, since this is the main reason for writing this review. The device takes about 30 seconds to boot up on first boot and whenever you manually reboot. This shouldn’t be a problem since changes to SIP accounts, which is our main concern, are applied in realtime. However just to get it out of the way; Skype does work and can be used if needed.

The type of interface on this device lends itself best to a touch screen rather than a dial pad. Some of the menu functions and movements seemed a bit awkward; or it could just be that this generation is spoiled with the touch interface. Fortunately for those who agree with this Grandstream offers a touch screen variant called the GXV3175, although we have not tested this. If we do we will be more than happy to update this review or write a new one.

You can configure your SIP account in one of two ways: From the phone itself or from the web. We chose the web interface since it’s much easier for us. On the device, to begin setup you navigate to Menu -> Settings -> Accounts. On the web you login to with the designated IP, which can be found on the home screen or under Menu -> Info -> Network. By default the username is admin and the password is also admin. Once you login you will be presented with a much different web interface than that of the Handytones and previous Grandstream devices. We were very impressed with the fluidity and snappiness. Grandstrram may have added a few extra unnecessary touches; however they never interfered with our testing of the phones functionality.

Grandstream has made it very simple to get down to business. Right in the navigation are links to your different accounts, phone status and maintenance. These were the things we were most concerned with. The account pages are simple enough to configure. Once you configure your credentials you can go right ahead and begin using your phone for calling. The good thing about this process is that it doesn’t require a full phone reboot. You can save your changes then look on your device’s screen to see that your line has been registered to the Callcentric servers.

We set the ability to enable/disable video during the call as well as the ability to start video automatically. For video calls we found that H.264 performed the best however all video codecs can be enabled for compatibility reasons. For audio calls we generally recommend the PCMU/A and G729 codecs, since these are the codecs we support for PSTN calls. Note that you cannot send video to the PSTN with Callcentric. You can however connect to another Callcentric user, or any other SIP user for that matter, and have unlimited and free video calling.

*Check back with us int he future for our video calling ideas and tips.

Now that we think about it, a free Callcentric account plus a ~$160.00 device for video calling among other things is definitely not a bad deal.

If you notice problems saving settings from the web then don’t panic, we experienced the same thing. We saw the same problems with the newest firmware and were only able to save twitter and skype information on the phone itself. For us this wasn’t a huge deal as our main concern was with the SIP account functionality.

Everything beyond this point would be extra. Setting up twitter, facebook, Skype and other services are efforts best left to the end user. However owners of this device will find the web interface easy to use to configure and view settings.

PERFORMANCE

This is really the main portion of our review and, we presume, where people would make their ultimate decision. Does this device work with Callcentric and if so does it work well? The simple answer is: Yes. The GXV3140 works very well with Callcentric and you should have no problems using it for your calls. The long answer is:

Once your account is setup you can test calling to 17771234567 or any one of the numbers listed in this FAQ.

Audio quality is excellent with this device. We have had no issues with audio drop outs or poor call quality when testing and were very satisfied. We used PCMU, G729A/B and PCMA for calls in that specific order. Most of our calls went out with PCMU. Even call conferencing on the phone worked perfectly and we had no degradation in audio during the conversations at all. Call hold also worked properly and was not a problem for us. The speakerphone provided clear and loud sound when needed. The audio coming through the handset was just as good and was sufficiently loud. All in all the audio quality of this device is superb.

We would think the main interest for users attempting to purchase and use this IP phone with Callcentric would be the video quality. We can be the first to say that we were surprised the video worked so well. The quality of the calls ranged from ok to good and in general was more than acceptable. Compared to what we experienced two years ago with the GXV3000 we were very impressed. For video we highly recommend the H264 codec. If you choose to use the H263/H263+ codecs you will definitely notice poorer quality. We compared the performance with Skype and can say confidently that quality is on par and even exceeds the built in Skype client on the same network when using H264. Remember that you CANNOT call a PSTN user using video. Video calling will ONLY work to other Callcentric users and other SIP users.

The hardware itself is very stable and sturdy. We particularly like the handset. There are no sharp edges and it feels comfortable when calling. The speakerphone is also loud enough to use at home or in the office. The audio is clear and balanced and doesn’t distort at high levels.

The web interface is very snappy. Changes are recorded immediately. Grandstream did a good job on this interface and have produced something that makes setting up the phone a trivial issue. We really appreciated the fact that you did not need to reboot the entire device in order to update SIP account setting.

We really have no major complaints about the performance of the GXV3140. The device has been stable usable and responsive. These are things we look for in our own office phones and are confident the GXV3140 provides this.

The above said we did have some trouble with the time server configuration and saw our time being changed and reset on reboot, since we had to set the time manually. You can see this in the two screen capture shots above. We tried a factory reset and experienced the same problems. We would also like to see the ability to call from the web and for the problem with saving certain application settings to be resolved however. Any other problems we had were resolved by a firmware update.

CONCLUSION

If this phone were a car it’d be a quality mid range mid size sedan. it would offer reliability, features and performance under a known industry name, at a reasonable price. We enjoyed using this device and have not found any major issues with it. You can use the expected audio capabilities and the extra video capabilities for calling at home or in the office. The good thing about it is that all these extra features do not detract from the fact that this is a telephone at it’s core. The future is here and companies like Grandstream are leading the way with stable versatile multifunction devices such as the GXV3140.

Visual Rating
Appearancewww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.com
Sleek and professional. Silver accents on a matte black finish with no sharp edges. Not flashy yet still attractive.
Featureswww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.com
Video calling, PCAP tracing and a boatload of extra functionality. May be too much extra functionality could be distracting?
Setupwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.com
Configuring accounts on the phone may be tricky. It's best to use the web interface.
Performancewww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.com
Excellent stability with Callcentric where it counts. Firmware updates should fix some of the other problems.
Overallwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.com
The continuous evolution of the IP Phone. Sleek and functional, both home and office users will be pleased.