Tactical Advice

Clear Advantage

Speech recognition and call clarity are just two benefits users can expect from this IP desk phone.
This story appears in the September 2009 issue of BizTech Magazine.

When is a phone not a phone? When it provides much more than just a dial tone, which is exactly what the Avaya one-X Deskphone 9650 IP telephone does. Never before has a desktop looked so smart.

End-User Advantages

With so much functionality in cell phones today, users expect an even better experience when they’re using a telephone at their desk. The Avaya 9650 IP telephone delivers that experience, providing a 3.8-inch diagonal QVGA grayscale display. The screen is backlit, so even under bright light it’s still very clear. The phone has a dual-position flip stand, so it can either stand upright or lie nearly flat. On top of that, the angle of the display panel itself is adjustable. With so much flexibility, every user should be able to get comfortable with this display, no matter how tall they are or how they sit.

There are a multitude of buttons, and a ton of functionality, too. There are three gray circular buttons to the right of the display — simply press any one of them to get a dial tone. Four black contextual soft keys just below the display assist in navigation, as does the four-way navigation cluster (with a middle “OK” button). Just below the soft keys are eight function keys that can be used (with a shift key) for up to 16 commands and one-touch contacts.

Then again, who needs buttons when there’s a speech-recognition engine? The Avaya 9650 features embedded software that lets users direct-dial a contact just by speaking a name. If the contact has more than one phone number, just say the name and specify whether it’s a work, home or cell number.

Let’s not forget, a telephone is nothing without clarity. The Avaya 9650 supports higher-quality wideband audio in the handset, headset and speakerphone, providing clear audio and elimination of background noise. The single volume button controls separate audio levels for the handset, speakerphone and ringer.

Why It Works for IT

Although the Avaya one-X Deskphone 9650 is an IP telephone that can be powered via local power supply, you can also take advantage of its Power over Ethernet 802.3af compliance. There’s a second Ethernet interface to run a cable to a user’s desktop or notebook, too.

The Avaya 9650 was designed for the “Navigator” profile user. Avaya describes this as your typical office receptionist, administrative assistant or anyone who needs a number of one-touch access features. It supports up to three 24-button expansion modules, commonly known as sidecars, so that the user can see who’s on the phone and quickly route calls to staff members. Bottom line: Your overworked admin can actually process more calls than before. (Use of three sidecars requires Avaya Communication Manager 4.0; earlier versions only support one.)

If you have a call center that doesn’t assign users a fixed location, they can still use personalized features such as contacts. The Avaya 9650 has a USB 1.1 interface through which users can store up to 250 personalized contacts on a thumb drive. When the USB stick is inserted into the 9650, it logs the user in and downloads the contacts.


Although the Avaya 9650 shines in many ways, it still has room for improvement. It has been built to open standards, but a special cable and adapter are required to use a standard headset. Avaya provides the adapter upon request at no charge, but the cable runs $35.

For users who don’t need login and logout capabilities, Avaya says there is no way to remove the option to log out from the main menu options. We’ve had issues where call center agents hit logout thinking they are logging out of their preprogrammed roles, when in fact they are completely logging out of the phone. The login is password protected, so this could result in a few help-desk calls.

Dr. Jeffrey Sheen is the lead enterprise analyst at Grange Insurance of Columbus, Ohio.
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