Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Switching to IP Telephones (For Small Businesses)

We've been in the phone business for nearly ten years and have watched the shift from Plain Old Telephones (POTS), Analogue and Digital Systems to VoIP and IP telephones.  The biggest reason for the change is savings, which is the bottom-line for your small business.   Most VoIP service providers offer unlimited nationwide and Canadian calling or plans that offer severe discounts to many other countries. But there are some important questions you need to ask yourself before making the switch.

1. Is it really cost effective for my business? How much do you typically spend a month on long-distance or international calls? If most your business calls are local, you may not be saving much by switching.

2. Do I have a reliable Internet and enough network capacity? This is huge! If your internet provider has rocky connectivity or your bandwidth is limited, you will have choppy, intermittent phone service. A real headache!! Do yourself a favor and make sure your connection can handle VoIP alongside your current Internet use.  You can test your current internet speed at www.speedtest.net.  Have your network administrators check out your network capacity first. Here's a handy article on network planning

3. Can you make an initial investment for the VoIP equipment? This is the infrastructure needed to support VoIP services. You may need to invest in servers, routers, switches, and phones.  You'll eventually start saving, but you'll need some capitol for the initial investment.

So you've answered YES to the first 3 questions and you're ready to sign up.  What's next!?!

Research!!
Choose between Premises or Host Phone System
If you need to have several different extensions, call transfers, intercom calls, but don't have a system administrator, you may want to look into having your phone service hosted.  That means you won't need a PBX unit and all the maintenance will be handled by your provider. It costs more, but may be worth it for your business.

Choose your VoIP Provider
There's so many VoIP providers on the market today.  They all offer different packages and quality of service. It's so important to do your research before signing up with any service provider.  It can literally make or break your business (especially if you don't have another reliable source of communication). Know what features you need! Read reviews! One good source is voipreview.org. The 3 top things you'll probably want to pay attention to are:
  • Reliability
  • Price
  • Customer Service (How will they help you during installation or problems that arrise?)

Choose your VoIP Telephones and Equipment
Once you've chosen your provider (even before you sign up), you'll want to find out what type of equipment and phones they support.  Many providers offer phones and equipment to buy.  Sometimes they're even programmed to work with your account.  While this is convenient, I offer a word of caution; many times they've blocked them so that they will ONLY work with their service. Which is fine if everything works seamlessly, but if you ever decide you want to switch you'll have to fork over $$ to buy new phones again!! Good news: Most providers allow you to Bring Your Own Device (BYOD). Which means you can shop around for less expensive ones and if the day ever comes that you want to switch providers...you can take your phones with you. These Polycom's SoundPoint IP Phones will work with most providers that have BYOD lines and will save you $$!!

VoIP is not for every business, but it can save some businesses quite a bit of money. As the trend is heading it may one day become the ONLY option.  But for now, you can weigh the Pros and Cons and decide if the time is right for you and your business.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

How to Choose the Right iPod for You

You've decided to get an iPod Touch, but it can be overwhelming with so many options available.
That's why it's important to ask yourself some questions to help you determine which iPod is best for
you.

Price

Of course if price isn't an issue, buy a new 5th Generation iPod Touch from Apple, Walmart, or Best Buy. If, however, you don't want to spend $285-$300 for an iPod, then look into buying used or Refurbished.  There's still good quality used iPods out there that's back by guarantees.


Deciding to buy USED vs REFURBISHED - When buying an item that is not brand new, it is
important to ask yourself:

How much visible wear are you comfortable with?

Used-
These iPods have new, securely installed screens. Some of them are not completely flush with
the back and may have a slightly raised appearance. The backs are original and will have varying
degrees of visible imperfections. This may not be important to you as any wear will be covered if you
put your iPod in a protective case.

Refurbished—
We restore these iPods as close to the original as possible. It's appearance is close to
new with its new screen and back shell. If there are any signs of imperfections, they will be very
slight.

Determining Which Generation-

How important is having a camera?
The 4th and 5th Generation iTouches are the only ones that have a built-in camera for pictures, videos,
and Facetime.

Are you buying the iPod for use of specific apps?
If there are specific apps that you're hoping to use it's best to look those up and check the compatibility.
Sometimes minimum iOS version needed for a particular app is listed directly where you download the
app. Other times you may need to do more searching.
The highest supported iOS versions are:
-2nd Generation & 3rd Generation 8GB – iOS Version 4.2.1
-3rd Generation 32GB & 64GB – iOS Version 5.1.1
-4th Generation – iOS Version 6.1

Determining GB Storage Amount

Will you be storing or downloading videos, movies, or TV shows?
If so, you would want at least a 16GB, but if you plan on storing a lot of videos and photos the 32GB
and 64GB would offer greater flexibility. On the other hand, an 8GB would probably give you plenty
of space if you'll only be watching videos streamed on the internet.