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Review: D-Link DPH-541 WiFi VoIP Phone

DPH-541 WiFi VoIP Phone

DPH-541 WiFi VoIP Phone

First Impressions

My first impression of this phone was that it’s attractive looking, with a stylish cellphone style flip design. Opening/closing the phone and using the buttons is a bit creaky, and it feels as though the phone was cheaply made. Despite that, it’s working just fine and I haven’t had any problems with its physical functionality.

Basic Operation

The phone works much like a cellphone, with Send/End buttons, a standard dial pad, a 4-way navigation button and a few other buttons for various functionality. To place a call, you dial the number and press Send, just as you would with a cellphone.

The phonebook application seems to work well enough. I’ve only entered a few names so far, but it’s fairly intuitive and isn’t very difficult to use.

The phone supports sending/receiving e-mail, but it’s not very convenient. The display is much smaller than is practical for such things (the screen on my Treo is barely big enough). Typing in a message is a long and cumbersome process, since you have to press a key up to 8 times to get the particular character you want.

There is also a speed dial function which I haven’t tried yet, and a call log.

Advanced Functions

Along with some basic information such as statistics about the WiFi connection, firmware version, IP address etc., there are a few other tools which may come in handy for some people.

  • Site Survey – This will show a list of nearby WiFi networks, with an asterisk denoting those that are closed (password protected).
  • Ping – This will allow you to ping an arbitrary IP address. It sends four packets to the destination and reports the number of packets received. Detailed information (such as trip time) is not reported, so it’s really only good for checking to see if you have connectivity to a particular host.
  • Restart – You can reboot the phone without having to turn it off and on.

Configuration

The phone can connect to the network using the 802.11b/g wireless protocols, with support for WEP, WPA, WPA2, AES and TKIP. You can have up to six wireless profiles configured, which is good if you only plan to use the phone in a few places. The phone will NOT automatically connect to an open WiFi network, so any time you move into a new network environment and want to use it, you’ll have to configure one of the profiles to use the new network – this makes it less than ideal for those who travel a lot and want to use their WiFi phone at hotels, airports, hotspots, etc.

Up to six SIP accounts can be configured. I’ve successfully connected to a Trixbox I set up at home, as well as registering the phone directly with a VoIP provider. The phone supports STUN for those in a more restrictive NAT environment, but I haven’t needed to use it yet, so I can’t report on how well it works. Setting up the account in the phone takes a bit of time, but once all the information has been entered, it works quite well.

Web Interface

dph541config

This makes the phone MUCH easier to configure. Adding phone book entries and configuring SIP accounts becomes much simpler (and faster!) when using the web interface instead of the buttons on the phone. As always, REMEMBER TO CHANGE THE ADMIN PASSWORD!

Firmware Updates

I’d love to update the firmware on this phone (it might fix a few bugs!) but as of this writing, they hadn’t released anything new yet.

Problems/Bugs/Drawbacks

Those were essentially the “Pros” of the phone. Now for the “Cons”.

As mentioned above, the phone has a cheap feel to it. It hasn’t broken on me (yet), but I always feel like it’s about to.

The phone fails to keep itself registered to the SIP service if left idle too long. I was able to overcome this by setting it to reregister every 5 minutes, but that shouldn’t be necessary.

The battery indicator is useless. It always shows full, unless it’s completely dead, in which case the phone becomes an expensive paperweight until recharged.

Other bugginess that I’ve noticed but can’t recall at the moment – I’ll update this review when I remember them. 🙂

Specifications (from D-Link website)

  • Wireless Standards: IEEE 802.11g, IEEE 802.11b
  • VoIP: SIP v2.0, RFC-3261, Coding: G.711 u / A-Law, G.729A / B
  • Networking: IPv4, TFTP, DNS, DHCP Client, NAT Transversal, Static NAT, UPnP
  • Buttons: 2 Soft Keys, 4 Directional Keys, Volume Control Key, Send/End/Cancel Key, Redial/Hold Key
  • Memory: NOR 16MB Flash, 12MB SRAM
  • Quality of Service: WMM
  • Battery: Li-Ion 900 mAh
  • Security: WEP, WPA, WPA2
  • Temperature: Operating: 32°F to 104°F (0°C to 40° C), Storage: -4°F to 149°F (-20°C to 65° C)
  • Certifications: FCC
  • Hardware Dimensions: Item (WxDxH): 1.9″ x 1.0″ x 4.5″, Packaging (WxDxH): 6.3″ x 7.3″ x 2.8″ Weight: Item: 0.5 lbs, Packaging: 1.0 lb
  • Warranty: 1-Year Limited
  • Minimum System Requirements: Access to an 802.11g or 802.11b Wireless Network with high-speed Internet connection, Valid VoIP Telephone Service Account
  • Package Contents: Wi-Fi Phone, Li-Ion Rechargeable Battery, USB Cable, Charger, Quick Installation Guide, CD-ROM with Product Documentation