Kerio Operator Box v300 review

Setup could be easier, but this little desktop IP PBX is excellent value and packed with features

Price
£585
  • Excellent call-handling features;
  • Complicated setup;

If you're looking for a one-stop on-premises IP PBX system, Kerio's Operator Box v300 deserves an immediate place on your shortlist. This palm-sized steel slab is compact enough to suit the smallest office, yet powerful enough to handle up to 180 concurrent calls.

The one-off fee of 585 includes support for five users, plus a year of software maintenance and hardware warranty. Additional licence packs cost 90 per five users, while ongoing software maintenance is around 195 per year. The warranty can be extended to three years for an extra 94.

Getting the v300 working on our network was easy. The user manual detailed all the port-forwarding information we needed to set it up behind our lab's firewall or, if you prefer, you can let the appliance connect directly to the internet, since it has its own internal firewall.

Administration is more complicated, however. We recommend you take the time to read the manual thoroughly, as there are a lot of steps needed to get even a basic VoIP system working.

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The process begins with the appliance's web interface, which opens up with a customisable dashboard showing system health, active calls, recent call history and more. Users can be added manuallyor imported from Active Directory. Call forwarding lets you redirect incoming calls to a mobile or voicemail, or to another extension if not answered within a certain period.

On the subject of extensions, we recommend leaving these alone if you're using IP phone auto-provisioning. This involves setting DHCP option 66 in your router, with the appliance as the TFTP server; as phones are provisioned, the appliance will then create new extensions for them automatically.

For our Yealink T23P phones, we sidestepped DHCP and manually told each one the IP address of the v300, along with a unique username and password. The phones then grabbed the predefined Yealink profile from the v300, received the next available extension number, were assigned to a user, and even had a company logo pop up in their display panel.

SIP trunks are configured in the call-routing section, where we added details of our Sipgate business account and assigned extensions to each of its phone numbers. With this done, however, we found we were still unable to make external calls. A lengthy session with Kerio's support staff finally revealed that the default outgoing "From" header needed to be manually changed to our account SIP ID.

Kerio offers a comprehensive set of call-handling features. Call queues distribute incoming calls to logged-in users according to six handling schemes, including "round robin", "those with the fewest calls", "random" or "all". We can't think of any situation that isn't covered by this range of options.

Ringing groups can make all member phones ring when a call comes in, while Auto Attendant scripts present a menu of message options and available extensions to callers. Conferences between users and external callers are possible too; these can be statically assigned to a specific extension number, or created dynamically.

In addition, Kerio's Operator web portal lets users call direct from their desktop, create speed-dial icons and listen to voicemail, as well as customise their voicemail messages and view a call history for their extension. Mobile users can use the softphone app for iOS and Android although Kerio charges 2.99 for each installation. We tried the iOS app on our iPad and had no problem making and answering calls, viewing a call history and accessing our PIN-protected voicemail.

Despite its dainty dimensions, the Operator Box v300 offers a superb range of VoIP features. Although complex to set up, SMBs that want to go it alone will be hard-pushed to find a better range of call-handling capabilities elsewhere for this price.

This review originally appeared in PC Pro issue 261.

Verdict

Despite its dainty dimensions, the Operator Box v300 offers a superb range of VoIP features. Although complex to set up, SMBs that want to go it alone will be hard-pushed to find a better range of call-handling capabilities elsewhere for this price.

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2.4GHz Intel Atom C2558 4GB DDR3 32GB SSD (28GB available for voicemail) 2 x USB 2 RJ-45 console 1yr standard hardware warranty

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