|Ease of Use:|
- 5-inch, WVGA 800*480 pix, color graphical TFT LCD with capacitive, single touchscreen
- 2 Gigabit Ethernets, class 2 Power over Ethernet (PoE)
- Full duplex speakerphone
- Six SIP accounts, IPv4/IPv6 versions
- Touch screen functionality
- Great HD Voice quality
- Enhanced functionality
- Sleek design
- Increased capabilities come with higher price
The Panasonic KX-UTG300B is a hybridized product that aims to make a user’s IP phone more like a smartphone. With a full 5-inch color LCD touchscreen, the 300B attempts to reduce the cumbersome configurational and navigational burdens of typical desk phones, standard models that usually require users to manually sort through numerous menus with slower directional buttons.
Panasonic claims that the KX-UTG300B’s simplicity in functionality does not imply a sacrifice of features; on the contrary, the features advertised for the product are some of the most advanced on the market.
The KX-UTG300B was designed for easy integration in leading Unified Communications solutions. It comes with enterprise-grade HD voice, a full duplex speaker system, 2 Gigabit Ethernet ports, power over Internet (PoE), built-in Bluetooth capabilities, 6 SIP accounts, 24 programmable keys, and expansion module support. The 300B was built for full interoperability with leading hosted platforms such as OnSIP.
Does the 300B live up to Panasonic’s billing as a device of “expanded capability,” a “large color-screen SIP phone” that allows for more “control and flexibility” than the average IP phone? With a price tag hovering around $230 per unit, is the cost really worth it? We put the 300B to the test to see what it has to offer.
To automatically configure the KX-UTG300B, find the phone’s IP address in “Information Display” under “Settings” on the home screen. Enter this IP address into your Internet browser and use the provided username and password to gain access to the phone settings.
Once you’re in, you should see a top navigation menu option labeled “Maintenance.” Select it and then choose “Provisioning Maintenance” from the left-hand menu.
Once you're in “Provisioning Maintenance,” make sure that “Enable Provisioning” is set to “Yes.” Then enter http://boot.onsip.com under “Provision Server.”
The first feature one notices after setting up the KX-UTG300B is the much vaunted LCD touchscreen. And there’s a reason for this: If you’ve ever used traditional IP phones before, you’ve probably at some point been baffled by the primitivity of their navigational capabilities. Movement from one section to another is more reminiscent of configuring an old TV than an iPhone 6. This is the issue the 300B seems to want to address with its touchscreen capabilities.
Panasonic should be commended for attempting to merge smartphone design with IP phone interfaces. The touchscreen definitely streamlines the process of navigating from one section to another. Easy mobility, the norm on our pocket phones, gives the KX-UTG300B a welcoming and intuitive feel that makes the device more efficient and easier to operate.
But as convenient as the touchscreen is, it does come with its limitations. All input is still received through the dial pad, meaning that names and other alphanumeric characters must be sorted through and placed one letter at a time, a practice that seemed noticeably anachronistic given the sleek touch-sensitive screen that rests but an inch away.
Nevertheless, this attempt at modernization will be welcome to anyone who has dealt with standard desk phones in the past. But what about its traditional structure? The buttons of the 300B are perhaps bigger than those on a standard desk phone, but the device does not suffer from cramping. The touchscreen allows for the phone itself to be bigger without sacrificing the device’s aesthetic value.
Buttons are preset for voicemail, conferencing, transferring, holding, and other standard features, along with the dial pad. Overall, the phone takes up more desk space than the average phone, but the enhanced functionality and reasonable aesthetic presentation make it seem sleek and powerful to observers.
The KX-UTG300B comes equipped with all the standard features you would expect from any leading VoIP phone. Holding, transferring, conferencing, and other telephony standbys are easily accessible from buttons on the face of the phone. But what features are technically interesting? The 300B is not the first VoIP phone to incorporate Bluetooth capabilities, but the inclusion certainly leads to a more robust offering.
Options such as the screensaver and calendar feel more like tacked-on items than necessities, but features such as the extensive contact library volume (capable of holding up to 1,000 contacts) add real substance where it counts. The caveat here is that the phone’s most impressive feature is ultimately its touchscreen architecture.
The 300B’s HD voice quality is at the top of the market. The rich, depthful voice channel yields a product that is primed to deal with the nuances of human communication. The content of a conversation on the 300B can be shaped by a participant’s enunciation, emphasis, and volume, which is more like communicating in person.
This clarity has subtle benefits that might not be instantly obvious. But over time, the quality of the voice seems like it could bring employees closer to their coworkers, supporting clearer messaging and humanizing contact.
The speakerphone’s voice quality, like any phone model, is not as remarkable as the handset. But in our trial runs, we experienced consistency and clarity in the calls we took on speaker. Perhaps most importantly, we observed no echo effect for the speakerphone, even when nearby phones joined our call and also activated their speakerphones. The 300B would thus be optimal for an office with multiple users who engage in concurrent speakerphone conversations.
At OnSIP, we put each of the phones we use through a multi-step interoperability test in which we apply ~30 test cases. Here’s an example of a test case:
Test phone calls phone B
B picks up
B puts test phone on hold
B calls phone C
C picks up
B transfers test phone to C
The call must be transferred correctly to C. B must be released correctly after the transfer. When C picks up, audio must work both ways between test phone and C. When the test phone is on hold, there is no audio between it and phone B.
We did not experience any issues during our tests with the Panasonic KX-UTG300B.
Ultimately, the 300B is breaking down the barrier between desk phones and smartphones. Though its touchscreen functionality does not apply to user input, the 300B is nevertheless taking a step in the right direction, making it easier for users to operate the device. Furthermore, the HD voice quality is excellent, perhaps surpassing even the best phones on the market.
Besides including all the necessary functionality of a standard desk phone, the 300B offers enhanced capabilities with features such as Bluetooth compatibility. Although we're not fashionistas, it helps that the 300B looks aesthetically pleasing, with a sharp design that conveys its advanced operability in a tactful way. In short, just about the only downside to this superb phone is that it will put you back about $230 per unit.