Yealink VP-2009 Review

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Yealink VP-2009 Review

yealink-vp-2009.JPG
Yealink sent me their Yealink VP-2009 color touch-screen videophone to review a few months back and I finally found some time to crack open the box and check out this very cool phone. Featuring a large 7" digital TFT-LCD with 800×480 pixels resolution, the VP-2009 is pretty slick looking and supports HD voice (G.722) and popular HD codecs (H.263 & H.264).

Installation
Installing the VP-2009 was a breeze. I registered the phone with a trixbox Pro system, which is an Asterisk-based IP-PBX. After connecting it to the network and acquiring an IP address, I went to the web portal and logged with the default credentials (user = admin, password = admin). Then I just put in the SIP credentials into Account1 and saved it. I didn't even have to reboot the phone, unlike Polycom and other IP phones, which I've ranted about in the past.

Testing
Next, I made a call to the VP-2009 from an Aastra 6757i IP phone. The call quality was excellent. The Aastra 6757i IP phone is not a video phone, so next I installed Ekiga, a free SIP softphone application that supports video including H.263, H.263+, H.264, THEORA, and MPEG4 video codecs. It also supports G.722 wideband audio codec which is perfect to test the G.722 capabilities also supported by the VP-2009.

I launched Ekiga and had it register to the same trixbox Pro PBX. I was pretty sure trixbox Pro didn't yet support video phones due to a lack of video codec support, but figured it was worth a shot. trixbox Pro also still lacks G.722 support, so that would make testing HD audio difficult.

In any event, I called from Ekiga's extension to the VP-2009 and it rang. I pressed the Video Call button to answer the call as a video call, but all I got was audio. My suspicions about trixbox Pro not supporting video were confirmed. To work around this, I decided to make a direct IP call from Ekiga to the Yealink VP-2009. In the SIP URI field I typed '10.0.1.195@10.0.1.195' which is the IP address of the VP-2009. The VP-2009 phone rang and this time when I answered I could see video on both ends. Success!

Here's a video showing a 2-way video call taken using my iPhone 3GS's camera:

The video shows some pretty impressive video quality with excellent frame rates. I had to tweak Ekiga a little since be default it was set to 64kbit/s maximum bandwidth, which resulted in lots of artifacts and blocky video received by the VP-2009. I bumped that up to 1000kbit/s and the video was much better, i.e.:
ekiga-preferences.jpg

I also tweaked the picture quality and frame rate slider. The only thing with having the bitrate so high and moving the picture quality too high was that my CPU was getting pegged. I had some other CPU intensive apps running which I couldn't close, so I could have probably had even better video quality transmitting from Ekiga running on my PC.  But this is a review of VP-2009 not Ekiga. There is definitely some hardware compression going on with the VP-2009 since there was no lag, excellent resolution, and fast frame rate for the video transmitted by the VP-2009 that was displayed in Ekiga.

Next, I wanted to test G.722 wideband audio. By default the codec is disabled on the VP-2009, so I logged into the web interface and enabled it. Then I set Ekiga to only use G.722 and made a call. Ekiga received an error that it couldn't find a common codec. smiley-frown Not sure why I couldn't get it to work. I also tried another softphone application, SIP Communicator and set it to only use G.722 and it too didn't work. I'm sure their G.722 codec must work. Alas, trixbox Pro doesn't support G.722 yet or I'd test registering the VP-2009 and an Aastra 6757i to trixbox Pro since both phones support G.722. I'd then attempt a call between the two. Alas, when I find some time I'll have to setup Asterisk 1.8 on a test box since I know it supports G.722. In any case, let me just say the VP-2009 has one of the loudest speakerphones I've ever tested. I couldn't believe how loud it was with absolutely no distortion. Echo cancellation is critical when using speakerphone at a high volume and I found the VP-2009 to perform beautifully. No complaints. Adjusting volume is done via the touch screen as well as the physical left and right arrow buttons.

The Mute button mutes your audio only and doesn't stop your video from transmitting. However, you can simply press the Voice Call button on the LCD to switch from a video call to voice only and it will stop transmitting video. You can also switch back to video as well. Thus, to stop audio and video it is two key presses. Alternatively, you can put the caller on Hold which will stop transmitting both audio and video with one button press. The angle for the camera on the VP-2009 is adjustable and you can even push it all the way up to block the lens, a sort of privacy mode if you will.

The Message icon on the home screen takes you to a voicemail screen where you can see Account1 - Account4 with a number indicator in parentheses indicating the number of voice messages for each of the four accounts. You can then click the green phone icon next to one of the accounts to dial the voicemail system to retrieve messages. Since I only have one account setup, I wished the phone was smart enough to just simply dial the voicemail system immediately without showing me a list of choices. Further, I wished the Messages icon on the Home screen indicated the number of messages. There is a message waiting indication (MWI) envelope icon that appears on the top right when there is new voicemail, which is nice.

Some other cool features include the ability to customize the wallpaper and even the ability to watch movies on the phone. I stuck a 8GB SD card into the phone's SD slot and was able to easily navigate folders using the touchscreen and import the photos I wanted. Similarly, from the Sound Manager I was able to import WAV files to put custom ringtones onto the phone. The phone also has a USB slot for using USB memory sticks to transfer pictures and ringtones. It's worth mentioning you can add Contacts to the phone via the phone or the web portal and assign certain ringtones. You can even create groups (family, friends) and assign custom ringtones to these groups.

The phone comes with a sample video called 'Yealink Products 03.mov' which is a silent video that shows various angles of the Yealink VP-2009. You can't remove this video so it must be burned into the firmware. I added my own Quicktime video taken from my iPhone 3GS and was able to import the video. However, I couldn't seem to get the video to play. I checked the documentation to see what codecs and resolution were required, but couldn't find anything. This affected their Documentation rating score.

Features:

VIDEO
  • Touch screen 
  • 7" digital TFT-LCD with 800×480 pixels resolution
  • Rotatable CMOS sensor camera with 300K pixels
  • Video codec:  H.263 and H.264 baseline profile
  • Picture codec:  JPEG, GIF, PNG, BMP
  • Frame rate up to 30fps with resolution of D1 (720×480) or CIF (352×288)
  • Bandwidth:  128kbps – 1Mbps
  • Adaptive bandwidth adjustment

VOICE

  • Voice codec:  G.711, G.723.1, G.729AB, G.722 (wideband)
  • VAD, CNG, AEC, PLC, AJB, AGC
  • Full-duplex hands free speakerphone with AEC

VIDEO

  • Full screen
  • Picture-in-picture
  • Local video control
  • Color ring/image
  • TV output when in video call
  • Online/offline advertisement
  • Works with IP Camera, such as Mobotix
  • Works with doorbell

PHONE FEATURES

  • Video and voice call selection
  • Call forward, Call waiting, Call transfer
  • Hold, DND, Mute, Auto answer
  • Dial plan, Dial-now, Speed dial
  • Caller ID display, Call history
  • Phonebook, Black list, Group manage
  • Volume control, Ring tone selection
  • Wall paper, Screen saver, Sleep
  • Date & Time manually or automatically
  • Icon-driven menu
  • Multi-language
  • 27 keys including 4 soft keys
  • 1xUSB 2.0 port
  • 1xSD card slot
  • 2.5mm headset port
  • PoE Support (IEEE 802.3af)
  • A/V out:  RCA style stereo audio and composite video output

Price: ~$349


Ratings
Score
Installation
Documentation
Features
Usability
Performance
Value
Overall

Conclusion

I was very impressed with the Yealink VP-2009. The video quality was excellent, the touchscreen was very responsive, the speakerphone quality and volume was very good, and this phone just looks good sitting on your desk. I've said it before, but I will reiterate that Yealink is making in-roads into the U.S. IP phone market. This is now the second Yealink IP phone I've tested and I've been very impressed both times. Yealink offers a plethora of features at a very affordable price. In some ways, Yealink is similar to Grandstream, which also offers affordable VoIP products, though Grandstream has a much higher marker awareness in the U.S. But I fully expect Yealink to improve market awareness and marketshare if they keep producing high-quality and feature-rich products like the Yealink VP-2009 video phone. Polycom, renowned for their high-quality conference speaker phones and excellent sounding desktop IP phones - at a slight premium price - will have to watch their back, as will Grandstream. I predict Yealink will have at least 10% U.S. marketshare in new IP phones purchased by the end of 2011.


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