Lancom 1823 VoIP review
Not a lot of people know this, but German company Elsa was once a big cheese in the office communications market.
Unfortunately, it made the mistake of focusing too heavily on graphics cards, couldn’t compete with the established names and, as a result, the router side of the business suffered.
Well, it’s back – as Lancom Systems – and it aims to move into the UK market with a tidy range of well-featured business routers.
The Lancom 1823 sits at the top of its SMB VoIP router family and is an IP PBX supporting ISDN and PSTN connectivity to SIP service providers.
However, there’s a lot more to this lightweight plastic box – it also amalgamates a standard SPI firewall, IPsec VPNs and a wireless access point that can operate in 802.11a or bg modes.
For installation, Lancom provides its LANconfig utility that automatically finds the appliance on the network and fires up a setup wizard that helps with general network configuration, securing administrative access and wireless functions.
You can set global time limits on voice connections to avoid excess charges and, once breached, the router blocks all further calls and flashes a red LED on its lid.
If you upgrade the router’s firmware, you must also install the corresponding version of LANconfig; otherwise, it will fail. Wizards are provided by LANconfig for all key features, which do make life a lot easier, as the utility itself takes some getting used to. However, it will prove useful for managing multiple routers, as they’re all displayed in the same window, and you can deploy group configurations and firmware upgrades to them all in one go.
The router can also be accessed via
a web browser, although the interface isn’t a pretty sight and best left alone. Internet access is via the internal ADSL modem, ISDN line or one of the ethernet ports, and you can use an ISDN port as a fall back. For VoIP testing, we used our Sipgate (www.sipgate.co.uk) account, which we had running in a few minutes via the LANconfig Call Manager wizard.
VoIP functions for the 1823 are impressive: you can use the ISDN and analogue lines to connect devices such as handsets and faxes, and the PBX provides a wide range of features for controlling inbound and outbound calls along with call hold, swap and transfer plus hunt groups.
Lancom also offers a 30-day evaluation of its VoIP client software for making and receiving calls from your PC.
We found this easy enough to use, with plenty of features including speed dial, phonebooks, call forwarding, call hold and so on.
The router provides wireless security measures and some interesting wireless monitoring tools. Once you have the router’s background scanning enabled, the WLANmonitor tool lists all APs and clients it spots, and any AP that doesn’t have encryption enabled is highlighted as a rogue and given a red icon.
This is entirely passive – it can’t block access to a rogue, but is a useful alerting tool.
The various management interfaces aren’t intuitive, although the wizards make some tasks a lot easier.
And, for the price, the Lancom 1823 offers a fine range of communications features along with some quality VoIP PBX functions.