Panasonic KX-NS700 Review – Hybrid PBX Which Keeps All Options Open
Panasonic IP-PBX Review
Like so many of its compatriot corporations, Panasonic is an accomplished all rounder in the field of electronic goods manufacturing. One of the world’s top five producers of television sets, Panasonic controls the third largest share of Europe’s consumer electronics market.
But outside the high profile consumer goods field, the giant Japanese company generates just shy of 10 per cent of its global revenue from its systems and communications wing.
Panasonic is happy to use its credentials as one of the world’s most well known electronics companies to gain traction in the business telecommunications market. The product website for the KX-NS700, for example, states that it is a product “designed specifically for small or medium-sized businesses looking to take advantage of Panasonic’s reputation for quality technology, without needing a huge budget.”
So what is the KX-NS700? It is one of a range of four on-premises business telephone systems manufactured by Panasonic with an integrated UC software suite. The KX-NS700 is targeted at the SME market, with flexibility, cost effectiveness and easy scalability plugged as its main USPs.
In this review, we will assess how the KX-NS700 system stands up to those claims and look in depth at what it offers customers. Please remember that the views expressed in this review are the author’s opinion only. UC Today does not endorse, promote or market any particular brands or products, our reviews are completely independent and intended solely to provide information to our readers.
How Does It Look?
The KX-NS700 is a standard looking rack mountable server unit with a 19” black chassis, full dimensions 430mm x 88mm x 335mm. The front panel features two LED indicators, one for status and one to show present PBX mode, which display green, amber and red. There are 22 ports in total plus a USB hub. Each main server can be stacked with up to three expansion units.
What Can It Do?
The KS-NS700 supports single line, analogue, digital, DECT and IP telephones, which can all be deployed in any combination on the same hybrid system. This flexibility is really useful for small businesses which want to spread the costs of updating their business telephones over time, allowing them to continue using legacy endpoints as they go.
The server starts at a minimum of six extensions and can be scaled up to a maximum of 288 with all three expansion units. Support for SIP trunking means the server can connect to phones in remote offices via an IP connection, with no additional charges and no need to deploy another PBX.
The KX-NS700 can run a wide range of Panasonic desktop telephones, providing customers with a great deal of choice and flexibility in endpoint features. The compatible handsets include four IP phones in the KX-NT range, two digital phones in the KX-DT range, three DECT KX-TCA models plus Panasonic analogue and SLT phones.
The KX-NS700 offers a wide range of UC features in addition to standard business class PBX functions. Most of these are accessed via a licensing system, so you pay for a particular bundle of features your business needs. One standard feature included with the server is auto attendant, which offers voice guidance and call routing plus a basic voicemail service. Another is an inbuilt web server, which allows configuration and management of the PBX system to be carried out from any device and, with the softphone plug in, provides a platform for mobile connectivity.
Many of the additional UC features are available on license via the Communication Assistant (CA) application suite. The CA suite is a desktop based platform of communication, collaboration and productivity tools available in three flavours – CA Basic Express/CA Pro for personal productivity. CA Operator Console for operators and receptionists, and CA Supervisor for team monitoring and executive use.
On a Pro subscription, the CA suite includes a softphone, contacts directory, IM, presence and video conferencing. It also integrates with Microsoft Outlook, providing seamless access to Outlook contacts and one click calling.
A separate mobile integration license allows mobile phones to be used as part of the business network with the same number and call management options. There is also an additional CA Mobile app for Android and iOS, which also adds access to UC functions from a smartphone.
Other subscription services include an expanded voice messaging option, offering up to 400 hours of recorded voicemail storage and email notifications. This can also be used as a call recording system, with the option to back-up conversations via a USB flash drive.
For customers at the larger end of the scale, there is also an optional call centre suite which offers advanced call routing functions without the need for an external CTI server.
What do we like?
The wide support for legacy and modern IP telephones is a really useful feature for small businesses, particularly existing Panasonic customers who may be put off by the mounting costs involved of purchasing a new PBX server with a whole set of new handsets with it. The ability to run hybrid systems means companies have the flexibility to update systems gradually.
The scalability of the KX-NS700 is also excellent, it can serve everyone from very small businesses up to those approaching mid-market size. Configuration of new extensions is extremely straightforward, so the telephone system can grow as the business does. And with SIP support, businesses have a cost effective option for adding remote branches or even home office extensions to the network via IP.
Who is it for?
The KX-NS700 will appeal to a broad range of businesses which fit into the SME category. As a straightforward IP PBX with support for analogue, digital and IP phones, it is a good option for small offices looking to gradually upgrade their telephone systems. With ready scalability and a wide choice of licensed features, it will suit growing businesses looking for full UC features and mobile integration. And with full expansion to over 250 endpoints and options for supervisory analysis and contact centre platforms, it can also serve the needs of businesses on the cusp of the midmarket.
What is it compatible with?
The Communication Assistant app plugs into Microsoft Outlook, allowing the phone system to share contacts and enable one click dialling from within Outlook itself. It can also be configured to integrate with Microsoft Exchange, linking in with Exchange Calendar and managing things like availability and presence on the CA system.
How much does it cost?
The current UK RRP is listed as £570.00 excluding VAT, although a quick scan of UK resellers online suggests it is available for slightly less than that from most outlets. However, that’s just for the base model.
UC Today Opinion
Panasonic market the KX-NS700 as an alternative to cloud based PBX solutions. On most counts, this is a pretty good assessment – it is easy to deploy and configure with a straightforward web based interface, it is highly scalable and offers a broad range of good quality UC features. A distinct advantage is the ability to run a mix of legacy and IP telephones, which offers great flexibility and value for small businesses which already use Panasonic phones.
The one area where it does not match a cloud PBX solution is capital costs. Although the main server itself is reasonably priced and maintenance seems fairly straightforward, the expansion units are double the main server price, which adds considerable expense if you want to maximise the number of extensions with a full complement of three extra units.
Are you a KX-NS700 customer or reseller? What are your thoughts? What do you think of the comparison to cloud PBX systems, do other features, usability and reliability counterbalance the higher hardware costs? Please feel free to share your opinions in the comments section below, and share this article if you know any KX-NS700 users you think may be interested.