Fatal flaws with TalkSwitch TS-850i IP phones

I was initially excited at the chance to install and configure a TalkSwitch 240vs PBX phone system. With twelve TalkSwitch 850i cordless phones spread across four base stations, I figured I would have my work empire bathed in telephony goodness. And the price was very low for an IP phone system… too low, as it turns out.

FLAW I: the TalkSwitch Management Software runs on Windows only. This isn’t too big of a deal since I can use VirtualBox on Linux or Parallels on Mac, but the PC-only requirement is still a hassle. I had originally hoped that configuration could be accomplished via a web interface, but apparently not.

FLAW II: conference calling is only 3-way. You can’t have 4+ 850i’s on the same call, nor can you have more than two 850i’s talking to the same outside line. I just assumed that, like a traditional phone system, any number of phones could pick up on an outside line simultaneously. To TalkSwitch’s credit, the system isn’t designed that way because you don’t want people to be able to eavesdrop on conversations. That’s fine, except we need a way to have a “conference” that includes more than three people. You could get around that with a speakerphone, but…

FLAW III: the speakerphone is choppy and cuts in and out due to an overly sensitive mic. This was revealed to be a known flaw when I talked to tech support on the phone. This renders the speakerphone useless, and also takes away a means of working around the 3-way conference limitation (i.e., by having people sit around a speakerphone).

FLAW IV: tech support is painfully slow. I was having trouble updating the firmware on the 850i’s so I filled out a support ticket. After five days I got this response:

This issue would be best dealt with over the phone. Please contact us at 866-393-9960 option 3.

Of course option 3 wasn’t the correct option, and sometimes the tech support line sends you to voicemail instead of queuing you up. Support is not 15-30 minutes away – you’ll wait hours to get any help.

FLAW V: this one is personal. An online vendor who shall rename nameless (because they’ve been decent to me) sold me these phones. They will not take the TalkSwitch system back because I’m past the 30-day return policy limit. But the vendor did contact TalkSwitch and got their VP of sales to call me. I assumed that the call would result in TalkSwitch placating me in some way, even if just some free headsets or something. Instead, the guy said basically nothing and simply confirmed that, yes, conferencing is limited to 3-way, and yes, the speakerphones suck. He was being so useless that at one point I just blurted out, “So… why are you calling me? Are calling to console me?” What a terrible waste of time and money this has been. I thought I’d done my homework on this system before I bought it, but obviously I didn’t dig deep enough. Hopefully this post will help any IT brethren who are considering TalkSwitch; if you’re thinking about buying TalkSwitch, think again.

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6 Responses to Fatal flaws with TalkSwitch TS-850i IP phones

  1. jeannot says:

    I am confused by FLAW I – in particular, “the PC-only requirement”. Would I be able to configure the talkswitch management software with Parallels on Mac?

  2. theoden says:

    Yes, Parallels on a Mac will work, as long as you configure the virtual machine to use “bridged” networking.

  3. jeannot says:

    thanks!

  4. theoden says:

    You’re welcome! And when updating the firmware, you may need to turn the Windows firewall off.

  5. Sanguivore says:

    Regards programming on a Mac, you don’t necessarily need to bridge your network connections. If you are connecting to the system with a known IP address you can bypass the auto-discovery of the Talkswitch system by “Connect to a system via IP”. By the way I found out recently newer versions of Java do not work with the Talkswitch software. If you run into issues you can download version 1.6 and it will work great. I support several Talkswitch systems and I have picked up a few tricks along the way!

  6. insider says:

    flaw IV
    huge issue IMHO, but as one who has worked at that company for quite some time, support was the golden child – they actually think their support is amazing! you would think they woudl have the bugs worked out by the time you purchased this in 2011, as the software has not seen a major revision since late 2007, long in the tooth does not begin to cover it.
    the support you experienced was status quo for my tenure at the company [2005-2008] and the work they made for themselves and customers by simply not being up to speed on how the software actually functions [for example UPnP implemented but not to be used???] was negligent at best.

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