Saturday, February 18, 2012

GXV3140 - Update (02/2012)

The GXV3140 is the latest IP phone from GrandStream.
Here some updated notes since the original post and impressions about this new phone.

Positive things

As I mentioned in the original post, the screen activation based on some motion, is really a nice thing.
When in front of the phone is possible to see information about the status of the line or the time (yeah, I love watches :) ) and if nobody is there ... black screen.

Skype is working well. The quality of audio and video is really good also with Skype.

Also the normal calls with SIP are really high quality.

Negative things

Most of the time the phone is working well, however it is less stable and reliable than the older GXV3000 series.
The GXV3140 crashed at least 4 or 5 times since I activated it.
So far I observed that the crash happens when Skype is activated (i.e. logged in).
Some times it was enough trying to place a call to trigger a crash.  In one occasion I had the phone crash without doing any operation, probably after 2 days of continuous log-in to Skype.
Usually the crash manifest itself with a "frozen" system, i.e. the display shows something but the phone is totally non-responsive.
The only thing to do is to unplug the power, wait few seconds and then reconnect the power.

It would be interesting monitor the IP traffic to the phone to see if the crash is due from attempts to attack the phone.
Skype is notoriously dangerous, I don't think the phone is "smart" enough to protect itself.

Another annoying characteristic is the menu' to place a call.
To place a call, assuming to have the number in the phonebook, is necessary to press a lot of buttons, much more than the GXV3000.
First the phonebook button, then select the user, then press the F1 (assigned to the call function), then select if the call is only audio or audio/video and then finally the call is placed.
Really time wasting.

Still remains the impossibility to change some  parameters in the phone. Probably a factory reset is necessary but so far I didn't spend time on that.
Maybe one of these days.

The automatic gain of the camera is quite annoying.
It's enough to move little bit far from the phone during a call to have the image transmitted to become totally dark. I did try also other settings but the final effect is not better.

Skype doesn't support conferences. That would be quite useful.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Alphaline and Sears

A tale of trust.   I want to share my experience with Sears. The last one.
Back in December 2011 I wanted to buy a new Mp3 player for my daughter.
I went around for a while, on-line and in shops, to see what was available on the market.
As usual the budget was not very high, so I spent some time looking for models and brands.

One day I went to Sears and saw a small touch screen Alphaline MP3 player, not too much expensive (less than 70$) and with all the requirements.

Alphaline was a brand never heard .. I usually am very suspicious about new strange brand, but I trusted Sears.
Sears always stayed back on what they sell.  So I bought it !
It worked OK, nothing spectacular but enough to have the job done.

Already guess what happened ?
Yep, after just about a month the MP3 player  become a nice small brick.
Loss totally of the memory.
Everything hardware seems working but there is no real firmware in the unit, so the only thing you can do is turn it on, watch the splash-screen and then  look a a nice piece of useless plastic and metal.

I tried to contact the  Alphaline customer support via email .. AHAHAHAHAHAH .. no answer.
Then I went to Sears, asking for a replacement, since the receipt stated that I had time until March 19 2012 to return or exchange the player.
Of course it was a lie. For the electronics, only 30 days are allowed .. small printed on the back of the receipt, so of course in the store they refused to do anything.
The clerk in the store suggested to call the Alphaline support. AHAHAHAHAHA

Back home I called the Alphaline support ... that doesn't exist.
Sears answered the call.  A brief chat to discover that :

  • they don't have ANY number or contact  Alphaline  (I seriously doubt it ever existed !)
  • Alphaline discontinued some services to Sears ... maybe a diplomatic way to say that this "company" doesn't exists anymore
  • the warranty office at Sears can not handle warranty problems via phone (!!!!) .. wonder what they do.
  • I should go back to the store and asking to talk with the store manager .. AHAHAHAHAH
Soooooo what is the lesson learned ?
First of all, always trust the instinct.
If a brand sounds phony, not reliable .. is because IT IS !  No matter where it is sold.
The store that sell crap is not more serious of the "company" who produce crap.
Sears had a name to be a serious company, a one that stands behind what it's sell.
Well .. NOT ANYMORE !  
For me  the bigger assets of a company is the NAME and the TRUST.
Maybe the greed changed also this company that I always considered reliable.

To recap .. I gained a piece of crap, trashed away some money, I can not fix the player since the producer doesn't exist anymore and Sears is willing to do absolutely nothing about that.
So Mr. Sears ... I guess there is a reason if your business is not very healthy lately.
I lost 60$ .. you lost reputation, name and a customer.  Was it worth ?

Selling crap and not willing to accept responsibility  it means only one thing :  another customer that say to you bye bye.
It will be my pleasure to advertise what happened and warn people that buying electronic stuff at Sears is only trashing away money.   I will not do the same mistake twice.

Eventually .. if somebody out there has a working version of the Alphaline MP4 player, model 18281, could he/she tries to backup the content of the memory, compress it and sends it to me ? :)
Not the contents ! Only the "system" stuff.
Actually I strongly suggest to ANYBODY that has such model to do a backup !!  One day you could turn on your player and discover that become a nice piece of brick.