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How The PC-PBXs Stack Up

May 1, 1999

In our work with six industry-leading PC-PBXs, we had more on our minds that producing six independent reviews. All the while, we were weighing the strengths and weaknesses of all the PC-PBXs, asking ourselves which PC-PBXs would excel in different circumstances.

We have no desire to oversimplify. Indeed, we feel strongly that it would be next to impossible to refer to any one of the PC-PBXs as being the "best." Each PC-PBX presents a unique constellation of qualities, and each constellation refuses to stand still. The stars, it seems, will never align themselves for our convenience. Instead, each of us takes our readings of them as best we can, and we each chart our own courses accordingly.

Still, even though different users of PC-PBXs have different priorities, it is still possible to examine those PC-PBX qualities that may (or may not) assume priority status for individual users. Qualities we've considered include price, port density, voice mail features, telephony features, fax features, CTI features, and Internet telephony features. We also considered ease of use, with respect to both installation and the client interface.

For the reader's convenience, we've highlighted these qualities in our PC-PBX Feature Summary chart, as well as in the text that follows. The reader need only scan the chart or the text for the appropriate bold-faced headings to locate topics of interest. We invite our readers to refer to our reviews, and the analysis which follows, and to keep their own priorities in mind throughout. That, we think, would be the best way to approach an informed decision about which PC-PBX is most appropriate in any given situation.


Of course, price is a main concern of small to medium-sized businesses when deciding on a phone system. To be fair to all of the manufacturers, we attempted to evaluate systems that had similar configuration schemes. Specifically, we tried to evaluate systems with 24 trunks and 48 extensions, or systems as close to that configuration as possible. The prices for most of the systems were similar, averaging around $20,000.

One exception was the TeleSynergy TelePCX, which sells for thousands of dollars less and even offers more extensions (24 trunks and 72 extensions was the closest they had to what we asked). However, TeleSynegy does not yet offer as many features as the others PC-PBXs.

The Comdial FXS system is the most expensive of these products, especially since Comdial charges $350 per seat for each CTI client. However, the company offers a feature-rich solution. In addition, Comdial may instill in some users a sense of reliability, since the company is well known as a manufacturer of traditional PBXs.

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