Archive for November, 2019

Review: Yealink T55A Phone for Microsoft Teams

November 22nd, 2019 No comments


The Yealink T55A is designed as a mid-level Teams compatible endpoint. It’s unobtrusive 4.3″ 480 x 272 pixel screen paired with simple overall design is a great device for the Teams enabled organization. I recently added one in my home office and have had a chance to put it through its paces during my normal work day. The device itself has a simple key layout, with the typical 11 digit keypad, voicemail, headset, mute, speakerphone and volume buttons.

Setup and login

Nothing complicated about setting up this device. Install the stand, handset & cord, and plug the Ethernet cable into a POE port. No POE? Use a standard power adapter or POE injector. Pretty straightforward. As soon as the device was plugged into my POE switch, it powered right up. We get the typical Teams login prompt. In my case, I also use Cisco’s Duo for 2FA, and the Duo options did show up correctly on the screen. If you’re going to use a headset, there is a USB port for a wired headset, and the device supports Bluetooth as well. A GB network pass-through port is also on the device.


The T55A has the Company Portal for enrollment via InTune. When I first booted the phone, it went into the Company Portal screen to check for enrollment. As I don’t use InTune, I manually configured any preferences from the screen itself through the intuitive interface.

Updating the firmware was straightforward enough using the device’s built-in web admin feature. But admittedly took a few minutes. The IP address isn’t listed on the network settings screen, where one would first look. It’s listed on the ‘about’ screen (‘Phone Settings>About’, not to be confused with the ‘about’ screen that shows Teams specific version info. Once I found the address, I used a web browser on my PC to access the device’s web interface.

I upgraded the firmware when I first received the device, and then again recently as I noticed a new version ( available. Recent firmware updates have added support for Hybrid configuration, where the device can be logged into a SIP solution and Teams at the same time. This is useful in migration scenarios. Other features added include dark mode (yay!), support for more phone policies, and importantly, support for use as a Common Area Phone (CAP). When configured as a CAP, voicemail, meetings and locking are not available. Use as a CAP makes this device an even more viable solution for organizations that want a common area phone that’s a bit nicer than some other offerings. While I didn’t need that feature, I always try to run the latest version of any firmware just to be current. Both times I upgraded the firmware were uneventful, and the device updated successfully, then rebooted. The web interface has a considerable number of settings and options, including importing configuration file, Bluetooth, power settings, logging, and security. Power settings were the only real setting that caused me some frustration. The phone has idle timeout settings, which cause the screen to timeout and shut off. I’ve never been a fan of that. I like to have the screen on all the time – otherwise it just looks like a dead phone until you push a button the device, lift the handset, receive a call, or touch the screen. I like to see the time/date on the phone, and the screen saver does move the time and date around the screen while it’s on. There is apparently no set of settings that allow for the screen to always be on. The longest I was able to configure was 4 hours of idle.

The screen size is sufficient for pretty much everything you need to do on a standard Teams phone, including reading the transcription of voicemail messages. The on-screen keyboard is pretty small, but usable even for my big meat hook hands. I was able to enter in passwords and other details with only the occasional backspace required. Other typical options on the main calls screen include parked call pickup, searching, meetings, voicemail.


Simple to set up and use

Great sound via handset and speakerphone

Web interface offers a plethora of options


Power Saving feature cannot be disabled – idle timeout maxes to 4 hours


The phone works great. It doesn’t take a lot of desktop real estate and the screen is easy to read. It’s quick and easy to deploy. It’s nothing fancy, but doesn’t look or feel cheap, either. Great HD sound makes it easy to hear others on a call, and easy for them to hear you. As a phone for the average worker, the T55A is a great fit. The fact it supports both the Skype for Business or Teams firmware gives an organization some flexibility about rolling them out during a migration.

Ethics Statement: Companies may send software, hardware, or other products or samples to me in order for me to review such samples and determine whether I will provide a review of the product on I do not accept any samples on any preconditions, such as, that I will agree to provide a review simply because the company sent me a sample, or that I will only provide a positive review. Please note that companies may provide these samples before the product is commercially available, in which case, I may agree to an embargo with the company or its PR firm. This means I agree not to publish the review or associated news until a given time.

Review: Poly Elara 60 WS Mobile Phone Station

November 20th, 2019 No comments

Poly Elara 60Mobile first. We’ve all heard the buzz phrase, right? In reality, a LOT more people are working on the go – at least part of their work day. That means staying connected via a mobile device. With Microsoft Teams, that’s not an issue, as the mobile client is quite solid. But what about when we’re at our desk? Well, you can continue to use your mobile device as a communications hub, thanks to a new device form factor from Poly. Poly has released the Elara 60 series of devices that put your mobile device at the center of your calls – even when in your office. Recently, I received the Poly Elara 60 WS mobile phone station for review. MSRP for the version that includes the Voyager Focus UC headset is $784.95. If you have the Voyager Focus UC headset already, you can buy a version without the headset, MSRP $494.95, and pair it the Elara 60 for use there. Other supported headsets include the Blackwire series. More about that later. It’s also available with a handset as the Elara 60 WSH.

The Elara 60 pairs via Bluetooth to both your mobile device and the headset, with the headset already paired at the factory. It also charges both devices.

Don’t have/want a wireless headset? The version of the Elara 60 without a headset includes an additional port on the back for either a wired headset like the aforementioned Blackwire series, or the optional corded handset.

One of the great features of this device is that it has built-in wireless charging, and works whether your device is in the cradle horizontally or vertically. It works with many different cases on the phone. The cradle is adjustable for different viewing angle, and to allow you to properly frame your camera video.  A notch at the bottom allows for wired charging if your device doesn’t support wireless charging, or wireless doesn’t work with your particular case attached. The Elara 60 sports a USB port on the back of the device for wired charging.

This product was geared towards the Teams user wanting to use their mobile device running Teams as their primary communications platform. In reality, you could probably use any voice app with the Elara 60, such as Zoom, RingCentral, 8×8, Cisco Webex Teams, Skype for Business, GoToMeeting, etc.. In fact, I made and received calls via consumer Skype using my iPhone XS Max in the Elara 60 – both with the speakerphone, and the headset. But the big Teams button on the front makes it clear – this is a Teams device.

The Voyager Focus UC headset is nice. Active noise cancellation works great, music sounds very good, and built-in sensors can tell when you put it on, take it off, and move the boom into position. These are real handy, as you can configure it to auto answer calls or open the media player when donning it. Call and media controls are also located on the headset.

A dedicated Teams button launches the Teams app on the device, regardless of whether the phone is actually on the cradle, and stay lit as long as the Teams app is running. Teams opens to the Calls screen using this method. It’s important to note, though, that the phone must be unlocked for this feature, as well as when using the Elara 60 to make outbound Teams calls. The phone does not need to be unlocked to receive Teams calls, or to make outbound cell calls using the Elara 60. The unit allows for making/taking calls either via speakerphone or the headset, and the user can switch modes during calls by merely selecting the speakerphone or headset buttons on the Elara 60 keypad or by simply putting on the headset. Information about a called or calling contact is shows on the Elara 60’s display, as are battery level, time and date, and whether the mobile device is connected and charging. Three multi-function buttons provide other features, such as accessing the settings, starting the media player app, and disconnecting the current call.

A nice feature in this device is the media control for playing music. Buttons on the headset as well as multi-function buttons control playing music via speaker or headset. Track info is displayed nicely on the screen, as are options to skip to the previous or next tracks, or pause. A nice touch is that just like calls, you can switch between speaker and headset on the fly while listening to music. While listening to a track via speaker, a call came in – the music quickly faded away so I could take the call. I put on the headset and moved the boom into position and the call was automatically answered. When the call was completed, music began playing again automatically – but on the headphones because I still had them on – that was nice.

Managing the device takes two apps. The first is the Elara 60 app which can configure some settings such as firmware updates, what happens when you put the headset on, when to automatically start the Teams app (when connecting, when charging, etc.), and a link to the PLT Hub app (if installed). PLT Hub is geared for configuring the headset itself. Both of the apps are available at

PLT Hub supports the following settings:

  • Answering Call Alert
  • Caller ID
  • “Mute Off” Alert
  • Mute Reminder
  • Notification Tones
  • Online Indicator
  • Second Incoming Call
  • Ringtone
  • Sidetone
  • Volume Level Tones
  • Headset Sensors
  • Extended Range Mode (PC)
  • HD Voice
  • Streaming Audio
  • Anti-Startle (G616)
  • Noise Exposure

The app has a diagram that shows all of the various controls found on the headset, including call control, media, noise cancelling, Bluetooth, etc. as well as FAQs. A neat feature in the app is a “find my headset” feature which causes the headset to emit a tone for easy locating. One thing that is required is that you have to pair the headset to your mobile device to change any of the settings in the app.

The Elara isn’t cheap, and the fact that it’s not tied to a specific system could make it an attractive theft target. Like many mobile products, it supports a Kensington lock (not included) for security.


Unboxing and setup is very simple. Take it out, plug it in, install the Elara app from the appropriate app store, pair it via Bluetooth, and drop your phone on onto the cradle to the right of the display/keypad. Put the optional  active noise cancelling stereo headset onto the charging port at the top and you’re off and running. It really can’t get easier than that.


Quick, fast, and very easy to use. Setup was a breeze. Not complicated at all.

Headset works even with mobile (non Teams) calls. It automatically answers the call when you move the mic boom down. Also works great for music.

Noise cancelling was effective

Screen is clear and easy to read

Can be managed centrally at the enterprise level using the optional Plantronics Manager Pro SaaS offering.

Can use other apps with speaker phone and headset


Requires the phone to be unlocked to make outbound calls in Teams. That’s not a requirement of the Elara, per se – but of the phone, and for obvious reasons.



I found this to be great device for the target audience. Lots of nice features that are clear and easy to use. The screen is quite clear, as is the audio quality in the headphones. The speaker on the device isn’t meant for concert audio, but is quite adequate for calls and most music at moderate volume. I found myself using the headset quite a bit, essentially since just picking it up and putting it on answers a call. It uses Bluetooth 4.2, so its 30 foot range was fine for the room I’m in. It’s comfortable to wear and people I was talking to could hear me clearly. Wireless charging of my device while I’m using it and walking around is a clear advantage, especially since it works horizontally if I’m looking at shared media in a call. The fact that I can use one device for my calls, yet stay charged, listen to music while blocking ambient noise, is cool. No need for separate desktop phone and phone charging. Let one device provide both, with all of these great added features.

Ethics Statement: Companies may send software, hardware, or other products or samples to me in order for me to review such samples and determine whether I will provide a review of the product on I do not accept any samples on any preconditions, such as, that I will agree to provide a review simply because the company sent me a sample, or that I will only provide a positive review. Please note that companies may provide these samples before the product is commercially available, in which case, I may agree to an embargo with the company or its PR firm. This means I agree not to publish the review or associated news until a given time.