Android Central

Tonight while walking around ShowStoppers here in Las Vegas, I couldn't help but to notice something out of the corner of my eye -- a desktop phone running Android on it! Naturally I had to go and check it out to see what it was all about, and the things I saw were pretty impressive. Running on a 7-inch capacative touch-screen with an 800x395 resolution the ESI 250 runs a custom skin on top of Android 2.2. Now before you go ahead and complain about it running 2.2, let's remember that it is a desktop phone meant for business users who will not be taking it off their desk.

Android Central @ CES

The custom skin offers a rather stock experience, and ESI has wrote a custom market for the users to be able to purchase and download applications from. On the right hand side of the device you will notice three physical buttons, one to take you to the home screen, one to take you back, and one to access the menu. Some rather popular titles will be made available for the ESI 250, such as Evernote, Stickynotes, Sodoku and more. The device will be launching in Q2 at the $300 price point, so if you are a business user who wants to get more out of their devices be sure to be on the look out for this. Hit the break for some more images and a video tour.

 

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Reader comments

Hands-on with the ESI 250 Smartphone for the desktop

20 Comments

PERFECT...now if my company started using these phones, I would root it, put ICS on it and get a promotion!!! TAKE THAT BILLSON!!!

+1

Devices like this could be incredibly useful in the call center/Helpdesk industry. I could see these devices replacing ShoreTel-type systems in the future.

That was my thought exactly. I could absolutely see this type of phone taking a huge bite out of ShoreTel's and Cisco's marketshare on office VOIP. We got ShoreTel phones at an old job of mine, and they had a lot of this functionality but the software was built into your computer which hooked up to the phone. For example, you could one-click dial someone from the corporate directory in the ShorTel desktop software.
I'm sure this has some desktop companion software, but moving the advanced functionality to the phone is a great idea. Everyone wants to get more out of the actual device that you pay so much for. I'm not sure if ShoreTel or Cisco would be interested in the Android platform, but I could see them making a similar move.

ROTFL. Have you ever even worked in a call center before? This would be pretty much pointless. A call center is about resolving issues as fast as possible. Your average user doesn't have time to dick around with a 7" screen. What they need is VoIP on their desktop, with a USB headset and tools on their desktop to work with the person on the phone and a lvl 1 or 2 tech person to be able to conf call them in or do a hot swap of a webex session or work with a team member or group of team members on troubleshooting an issue.

People who look at tech and go OOOOOO this would really work well are trying to solve a problem that doesn't exist, trying to solve a square problem with a round solution, or simply have no idea what they are talking about and throwing random solutions at a wall and hoping something would stick.

You want to solve 90% of a helpdesk's problems? Do two things: Find a ticketing system that doesn't suck ***, and hire people who know what they are doing instead of just reading off a script. I'm a tier 3/4 field service tech and I can tell you right now some of the crap we get from 1 and 2 should NEVER reach me. And I'm not alone in this. I have friend from around the industry who deal with 1/2 people who are idiots and more specifically I know several friends who have management who have NO idea what they are doing so they throw tech solutions at the problem and are shocked when it doesn't resolve the issue.
Sorry for the rant but I saw this and just about table flipped. People need to understand, truly understand where the problem points are in a helpdesk system before they start fixing it. Not everything can be resolved with a tech solution and not everything can be resolved with a wetware upgrade either.

With wifi, this could be the ultimate VoIP solution as a second line at home, but MacArthur is right, $300 is too much. Maybe $100 is what I would be willing to pay but I don't think you could make this device at a profit at that price point.

As far as price, when I look up the mid-level 4 line speakerphone I have on my desk, it's $250-300 on Amazon. No screen, no Android, and still pricey. This just might be where these types of units stand.

Agreed. This thing on my desk with just caller ID says it goes for $350 on the market.

Where I see this having real potential is for the "hoteling" office space where cubes are pretty bare and "first come, first serve" for office workers that spend most of their time travelling. They're only at an office a couple days a month, etc.

Being able to put your laptop down on the desk in any office space at any of the different offices your company has around the world, then "log in" to your phone and have it setup the way you like it would be great.

-Suntan

I think a few of the first comments didn't realize what they were looking at. This isn't made for home use at all (at least not yet). At the beginning of the video the Rep said that it works with the ESI proprietary phone system.

My company has actually sold ESI products for several years and the standard 'dumb phone' sells right at that same $300 price point. I could see some huge advantages and uses for these phones if they can really make it happen and hopefully speed it up a little the delay was pretty noticeable when she was trying to scroll on several screens.

If you could that would be *terrible*. Just think:

You: just got through to customer service, and spent 15 minutes explaining your situation to the customer service rep (CSR) on the other end.
CSR: Can I put you on hold while I talk to my manager?

Riiiiiiiight..........

"The custom skin offers a rather stock experience, and ESI has wrote a custom market for the users to be able to purchase and download applications from."

My english isn't perfect but I'd expect more from a professional writer!

"The custom skin offers a rather stock experience, and ESI has WRITTEN a custom market FROM WHICH the user will be able to purchase and download applications."*

Your expectations may bear more merit if you were the one actually paying them, but given that information is made available free of charge, and that the meaning of the article was perfectly plain and understandable, why complain? Comments like this amount to little more than intellectual snobbery and contribute nothing to the topic.

I can see real potential for businesses. If the right apps are available for it (or if a business can afford to write apps) I can see paying $300.

Because we get a much better connection on a landline, most of us who work at a desk a lot will have a landline for years to come. If we can turn that brick into something more useful, the price would be worthwhile. That's especially true for those of us who bill out our time on an hourly basis. Any tool that would help me bill two extra hours -- not two a week, or two a year, just two -- would be well worth that price.

Off the top of my head, I can think of four things that would make me interested in buying three of these today at $300.

1. Contact Directory. Right now, my phone allows me assign 10 contacts to buttons on the phone and 100 to speed dial numbers. To use the buttons, I have to enter the number into the phone and scribble the person's name on the label next to the number. If a person's number or extension changes, or if that person moves down in level of importance, I have to go through it all over again. I don't bother assigning other names to speed dial numbers. An Android interface would be easier to keep up to date (especially if it can sync with Outlook) and give me easier access to more names.

2. Voice? I'm pretty new to Android, so I don't know if there are voice apps for an older version. But if there are, I'd love the ability to hit a button, say "Call Bob Smith," and have it search the directory for him and display his contact information.

3. Call History. This one alone would be worth the $350 for me. Right now, I don't think there is any cost-effective way for a small office to effectively track call history. I know I spoke with Bob yesterday, but I don't know how long I was on the phone. (Apps that let me track conversations as they occur don't help if I don't get around to turning them on.) A phone that would let me look at yesterday's calls, or last Thursday's calls, with names and durations, or a phone that would let me search for calls to or from a certain number, would be great. They're out there now, but they cost a heck of a lot more than $300.

4. Billing Capture. For years -- since back in the day of DOS -- there's been a device I've hoped someone would invent: A basic desktop device that will let me easily track time spent on projects. There are complex ones -- my billing software lets me click on a matter number, start a timer, and turn off the timer when I'm done -- but I hardly ever use that feature and I know I'm not alone. The software isn't open on my desk. Or I'm already working on another file when a call comes in and it's too much of a hassle. I'd like a separate device that would let me do this:

a. Hit a start button
b. Optionally, enter something in a file number field. (It should be optional, so if I'm too busy to look up the number I don't have to.)
c. Optionally enter text in a description field. (Same reason as above.)
d. Optionally, enter the name of the person I'm talking to. (Same reason as above.)
e. Hit an "Enter" key. At that point the device would stop tracking (as of when I hit the "Start" button) time for the last file I was working on and will start tracking it for the current matter until I say otherwise.

Ideally, it would have a drop down list of the last 5 or so files I was working on, so I could just select one.

So when a new call comes in, I hit "Start," maybe do "b, c and/or d," and have my conversation. When I'm finished and ready to return to the task I was working on before, I hit "Start," select the previous file from the drop down, hit "Enter," and I'm good to go.

Maybe have, on the dropdown list, a couple of things like "Break," and "Admin" for things that aren't billable.

At the end of the day, I have a record of how pretty much every minute was spent, all without messing with whatever I'm working on on my computer. I can use that to reconstruct billing records for the day.

Back to this phone. I can see such an app being developed for Android pretty easily. It's interface with my contact list would make "d" easier -- especially with Caller ID. Add a voice-to-text capablity for "c," and I'm in heaven.

Sure, there are probably phone systems that would let me do a lot of that out there now, but not at the price a small business (think one to three units) can afford. And sure, an app could probably let me do much of that on my cell phone now, but it's too much hassle to take it out of the dock, enter the password on the teeny keyboard, open the app, and enter the information. And the call wouldn't be coming in on the cell so Caller ID wouldn't help me. A separate desktop unit would be great.

I'd pay a heck of a lot more than $300 for a phone that would come close to that; it would almost certainly help me bill an extra $5-10k a year. I'll be looking at this one when it becomes available.

Maybe its just me but it seems like there is a lot of wasted potiential. Maybe this is just an early build, but instead of icons on the desktop they really could have built a quick and dirty app that has your contacts listed on the right, and apps on the left al la something like the car home app. What I'm seeing there feels very slapped together. '

But again the point is probably to demonstrate that Android is running on this thing. If they had a snazzy UI, as an example, Jared would have probably walked right past it.

One thing that wasn't noted here and I would like to know. It says you can buy apps from their market. Can you build your own? That would be huge for a business.