Siemens Gigaset S675IP, followup

We’ve been using the Gigaset phones for several months now, so i thought I’d post a followup with the longer term impressions.

It’s not all bad news.  Voice quality on intercom, landline and VoIP calls is very good.  The battery life of the handsets is really good; you can leave them out of the charger for days on end and still use them for calls.  Some of the features are pretty cool, like being able to assign custom pictures and ring tones to individual callers.  I’d like a little louder speaker phone, but it’s not too bad.  We have never used the Bluetooth connectivity, so I can’t say how well that works.  Range seems to be pretty good for a cordless; I can wander out and check the mail without losing the signal.  And, it’s really nice to be able to have to people on two different calls at the same time.

Drawbacks — I really still do miss the ability to quickly and easily just join a call in progress, like you would with any other home phone system I have ever seen.  If someone calls and you want two people on the call you have to use the intercom and conference feature.  Apparently the non-VoIP version of the phones (SL785) does this, but the S675IP is inexplicably different.

The answering machine has been a disaster.  For whatever reason it will randomly start refusing to play a message, giving you several minutes of static and noise instead.  You can’t delete the messages without either a complete reset of the base unit, or listening for several minutes until it finally stops.  I finally just stopped using the answering machine and use Asterisk voicemail instead.

There is NO way to back up the settings on the base unit;  if you ever have to reset it, be prepared to completely set everything up from scratch.  This shortcoming is about the most brain-damaged thing I have ever seen in a consumer product.

In general, I would describe this as a system with a lot of potential — ruined by a vendor that just doesn’t care.  The firmware and web interface are a virtual roach motel of bugs, and Siemens appears to have completely abandoned any attempts to fix anything.  As a result, you’ve just got to work around the nastier flaws.  Contacting tech support is largely a waste of time; the droids there have no idea how to do anything other than quote passages from the manual, and apparently their command of the English language is somewhat limited.  They seemed to be unable to comprehend things like the difference between backing up the dialing directory from a specific handset (not too hard) and the configuration of the base unit (simply not possible).

I would honestly not recommend this to anyone.  It looks really nice, and has some pretty nice features, but it’s just not “finished” — and never will be.  I’m tempted to switch over to the more friendly SL785 base unit, and just use Asterisk for all off the more advanced features.  That would though, mean giving up the ability to make multiple simultaneous calls.