Review of KX-TVS50
NOTE: on this website, "voice processor,"
 voice processing system," and "VPS"
 mean the same thing.
 
 
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KX-TVS50
voice mail... and more

Mini Voice Processor
  • Fourth model in highly successful KX-TVS series, at amazing low price.

  • Does all the tricks of its big brothers, and a few new tricks.

  • 2 ports, 32 mailboxes, 2 or 4 hours recording time.

FACTS

  • The new KX-TVS50 has all of the features of the popular KX-TVS series systems, and is much less expensive. 

  • It  has solid-state "flash" memory, instead of a hard drive. Total recording time is two hours. An expansion module (KX-TVS52) adds two more hours.

  • It has two "ports" -- it can handle two simultaneous conversations, including people calling from the outside as well as people inside checking messages.

  • The unit is designed for Panasonic KX-TD and KX-TA phone systems, but can work with any phone system that can handle single-line analog phones.

  • When connected to a Panasonic KX-TD digital system, one digital extension ("station") circuit can send two simultaneous calls to the KX-TVS50 (except for earliest KX-TD systems).

  • It can answer your calls as an automated attendant and then route each caller to the appropriate person or department, based on touch-tone key strokes. 

  • If no one's available to speak to a caller, he or she can automatically be sent to voice mail. 

  • The system supports 32 password-protected mailboxes, which can hold up to 100 messages each.

  • Each mailbox owner can record a general message, a message for "after hours" use, and a "busy" greeting that lets the caller know if they're on the telephone or away from their desk.

  • Through the system's Enhanced Message Notification, your telephone can be programmed to:
    (1) notify your pager, alerting you to call your mailbox,
    (2) display the number of the caller on your pager, or even
    (3) call a pre-determined telephone number to reach you.

  • If you don't pick up your messages within a specified time period, the Automatic Message Forward/Copy Message feature can be set to instantly move or copy the message to another person's mailbox for handling.

  • While at home or in the office, you can use the Live Call Screening feature to manage your calls. Like a traditional answering machine, it allows you to hear the message as it's being left, and then decide to either accept the call or return the call at a later time.

  • New Caller ID Name Announce feature plays a pre-recorded message to verbally identify the caller. 

  • New Caller ID Personal Greeting feature allows the user to pre-record up to four different personal greetings and assign each to specific telephone numbers. Calls from friends and family get one greeting, for example, while clients and vendors get others.

  • New Holiday Service - provides up to 20 custom greetings for holidays and can be programmed to play the special greetings on those days.

  • New Caller ID Routing can assign up to 120 Caller ID numbers to be routed automatically to a desired extension, mailbox or custom service.

  • Some features require a CHIP UPGRADE when used with an "original" KX-TA624 system.

  • Versatile Custom Service menus gives callers one-digit access to department extensions, information announcements or other system features.

  • Interview Service - allows you to set up a mailbox that will ask questions and record responses to up to ten questions. Great for after-hours order taking, B&B reservations, market research, employment screening.

  • Built-in fax detection recognizes the fax tone from incoming faxes,  and automatically transfers the call to the designated fax extension without the need for a dedicated fax line.

  • Call 1 888 ABLE 999 or CLICK to order online.

  • test drive of other models

COMMENTS & TIPS
  • Most important comment: voice quality is fine; maybe not quite as good as on the much-more-costly hard drive voice processors, but certainly good enough. The medium is not affecting the message very much.
  • Most important surprise: two VS50s can be connected to one KX-TA624, for a low price 4-port setup.
  • Most unexpected pleasure: CD-ROM manual with hyperlinks.
  • Most unexpected advantage of flash memory: faster turn-on of message lights.
  • Best thing about the VS50: low price.
  • Coolest thing about the VS50: Caller ID tricks.
  • Weirdest thing about the VS50: manual for KX-TA624 is on the VS50 CD-ROM.
  • Worst thing about the VS50: choice of actress for prepared messages ("system prompts"); she sounds like a whore in a hurry. UPDATE: most people don;t object.
  • Biggest Blooper: Instructions for "DIP" switch are confusing.
  • The 50 is full of features, but very small, physically. Even though the housing is the same as the one used for the KX-TVS75 and KX-TD308, it seemed smaller, maybe because the packaging is more compact. Panasonic supplies the 50 in a double box, but the total package is still small -- about the same size as a 7400-series phone.
  • Serial port connector is a male DB9, pointed downward and usable with the cover on; unlike the VS75 which has a female DB25 which is usable only when the cover is off.
  • I can understand changing the location and size of the connector, but why change the gender? I've long been annoyed by the lack of standardization among Panasonic products -- such as the serial connectors on the KX-TD1232 and KX-TVS100 facing in different directions; and now we have two similar voice processors with connectors that serve the same purpose, but have different positions, sizes and genders. Why should installers have to carry a collection of cables and adapters?
  • The panel beneath the small cover on the right side of the unit has been re-designed from the VS75, to include a ferrite core to surround the line cord. We heard no difference with it and without it. Apparently it's supposed to keep noise from leaking out, not leaking in.
  • The jacks and ground connection have been moved, but we still get a label telling us that the unit "must be earthed." Here in the USA -- the country that won the war with England -- that's called "grounded."
  • You can probably use a 25-pin null-modem adapter with a gender changer and 25-to-9-pin adapter, but we wanted to minimize potential foul-ups, so we used a 9-pin female-to-female serial cable, and a 9-pin null modem adapter from RatShack. You'll have to remove some itty-bitty hardware to plug it into the VS50. Watch out for un-needed couplers on the end of the cable that goes in to the PC, too. 
TIP: Instead of mounting your voice processing system next to the phone system control unit, mount it near one of your computers, so it's easy to make programming changes. It won't take up much space, and the wiring is very simple -- much simpler than extending a serial cable 50 feet.
  • One reason the box is so small is that there is no suicide-inspiring 400-page manual packed inside. Instead, you get a small printed subscriber's guide and a CD-ROM, which strangely includes a 390-page installation manual and a 214-page user manual -- for the KX-TA624 control unit.
  • The VS50  manual is provided in two formats: Adobe Acrobat PDF and web-style HTML, just like the CD-ROMs now supplied with the bigger VPSes. It's well-organized and gets a B+ for user-friendliness. 
  • The white and yellow Times Roman tiny type on black and blue backgrounds violates basic design principles and makes the contents pages look like they came from a low-budget porno website.
  • On the other hand, the actual instruction pages have nice black type on white background, with clear tables and diagrams, clearly-defined section breaks, and -- WOW -- hyperlinks that will open other windows to show related sections. 
  • You can click all over the on-screen manual, and easily go between manual and HyperTerminal, or whatever software you are using to program the TVS50. This is the way learning and set-up should be done... and it sure beats flipping paper pages and sticking in paperclips and Post-it notes.
  • Unfortunately, the instructions still have remnants of "Ancient Japlish", that should have been fixed years ago. 
  • There are lots of mentions of "PBX" systems, but we're supposed to call Pana systems "hybrids." Silly and sloppy.
  • If you have experience with Panasonic's other Voice Processors, there is less need to print the manual.
  • Section 3.2.3 of the manual strangely refers to connecting the VS50 directly to phone company CO lines. The manual for bigger systems mentions this, too; but we never noticed it before. Weird.
  • Instead of the micro-size rotary switch used on the other voice processors, the 50 uses a "DIP" (dual inline pin) switch assembly, with four tiny switches that can be set for either of two positions (zero or one). Unfortunately, the instructions (Section 4.3.1 and perhaps other places) refer to "position 5." This is not like the position 5 on the rotary switches used in the other systems, but refers to a pattern of flipping the individual DIP switches, shown on page 18 of the PDF manual. 
  • Initialize the VS50 with the four switches in the following positions:
    1 right (1)
    2 left (0)
    3 right (1)
    4 left (0)

    Move all the switches to left (0) after initialization, so your settings can be saved.

  • SURPRISE: The KX-TA624 can use TWO KX-TVS50s. 
  • The CD-ROM instruction sheets show programming changes for digital systems using Panasonic's DOS software. Nice!
  • Panasonic apparently thinks most purchasers of the VS50 will use it with the KX-TA624, so default program setup in the VS50 is for the A624. You'll have to make changes for it to work with the Panasonic digital systems. 
  • If your 624 has not been upgraded, you'll have to use "inband signaling," and can use line cords with just two conductors (no black and yellow outer wires).  
  • If your 624 has been upgraded, use "APITS" integration (program 130).  Disable programs 102 and 103. Program 130 is not in the original 624 paper manual, but is in the revised manual on the CD-ROM packed with the KX-TVS50.
  • The new box has a new voice. Pan sez there have been complaints about the previous canned messages, but I can't stand the new voice. Frankly, she just doesn't sound like a nice person. 
  • The previous speaker may have been a bit too "formal," but this new witch/bitch is bossy and impatient and talks too fast. She is obviously in a hurry, and wants you to get finished quickly with whatever you have to do. She made me think she was a "lady of the evening," and I was the tenth customer and she had 40 more scheduled after me.
  • If you can ignore her bad mood, you'll notice that the voice quality is fine. It sounds 95% as good as as we've been getting on the previous hard-drive-based voice processors.
  • You may not share my opinion of the prepared announcements, but if you do, you can replace them with you own announcements.
  • The "company greeting" recording slot provided in the other VPS models does not exist in the VS50. However, there are pre-recorded bits that produce "good morning/afternoon/evening; welcome to the voice processing system" messages that will be delivered before your first custom menu. You can kill or modify these prompts if you want to, so callers will hear your own message as soon as the system answers. See section D6 in the appendix of the PDF manual, or section 6.1.4 in the HTML manual. Make sure you have selected "User 1" not "system" prompt in the service setting menu or your changes will not take effect.
  1. Access the "Message Manager's Main Command Menu": dial the intercom number for the voice processing system, then #, 6, *, 998 (or 98 for the KX-TD308).
  2. Press [5]  to modify messages.
  3. Press [6]  to modify the user prompts,
  4. Press [1]  to change a specific prompt
  5. Enter the prompt number you want to change. Prompt 819 is "welcome to the voice processing system." 248 is "good afternoon." 249 is "good evening." 250 is "good morning."
  6. Continue following instructions. 
  7. NOTE: by eliminating the pre-recorded prompts, you will cause a delay between the end of ringing and the first sound that callers will hear. To minimize the delay, we recommend that you replace prompt 819 with your own brief message ("Thank you for calling Acme International") which will be be played immediately before your main menu (usually "custom 1"). Thanks to Panasonic techwizard Rich for this tip.
  • There's another advantage to making this initial recording:  If there is an emergency or temporary change in your company's schedule, you can call in from anywhere and change the opening message to something like "Thank you for calling Honest Charlie's Used Cars. Because of Hurricane Hilda, we will be closed until Wednesday," but you won't have to re-record your big main menu.
  • The lack of moving parts seems to have speeded up operation. The Message Waiting light is illuminated less than a second after a caller hangs up after leaving a message, and the port is quickly available for the next call.

Michael N. Marcus

 

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voiceprocessor.info/review-50.htm updated 3 OCT 04

   

 

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