I've installed a couple of Trixbox (based on FreePBX, Asterisk) PBXs. It is a very powerful, open source (free)system. But learning it is long, and difficult even if you are already decent in linux. Some of the more fulfilling learning I've done though. One of the coolest features was picking up any phone and dialing a three digit number that turned on an 120v electrical circuit (lights in this case).I just can't see buying a phone system for over 10k when you only need 1 to 4 lines
No debate, I agree that there is allot of junk out there and I have run into my share, but I stay away from no-names or look alike name brands (AKA Soutwestern bell) that are just junk, Att has allot to offer and a few other companys in this area, that offer very good products.Well, I guess we are going to get into a debate over commercial vs consumer type systems because that's what the "KSU less" systems you call "networked systems" are. Available from Radio Shack, Office Depot, etc. they do fill a demand- cheap customers. Yes they can be less money but you have to consider the wiring requirements (4 pair for 4 line phones and usually two jacks at each location) and the fact that they are basically throwaway. Because they are consumer goods the quality is not there and the manufacturers discontinue them after a few years. Unfortunately that means that if a phone craps out after like four years, you probably won't find a replacement and since the phones will only work with a like system you are faced with replacing the whole mess. I would never consider installing something like that in a harsh environment like a restaurant either.
These systems are cheaper than a KSU based system for a reason. Commercial equipment manufacturers support their products for many years and it is built for every day use in a business. You keep mentioning that Merlin phone. The AT&T Merlin system was the first electronic key system available and began being installed in the 70's by the Bell System (you couldn't buy it back then). It was discontinued around 1985 so that's how old that is. Yet there are some Merlin systems still out there in service, I just replaced one that died a few weeks ago. Most Greek diners and food service businesses around here seem to still have them because of their ruggedness. Merlin equipment is still available from refurb sources as well as remanufactured from the manufacturer, now Avaya. Hows that for support? I also don't know where you got that figure of "over $400" for a replacement phone. Check the internet, they are probably around $100 depending on what phone you are looking for. But I have to admit that Merlin stuff is becoming increasingly hard to get because of it's age. It is pushing 40 and when we get a customer with a problem with one we tell them it's time to throw in the towel.
You would have no problem though finding replacement equipment for the more recent Avaya Partner gear. The Partner replaced the Merlin and was inarguably the most popular and best selling key system. It was just discontinued after a long 20 year run and should still be available on the refurb market 20 years from now.
I can also tell you that the installed cost of the new IP Office Partner version small key system with a capacity of 4 lines and six extensions with voice mail standard and all the bells and whistles is no where near $10k. I do wish I could get that much though...
H'mm $134.00 is not that bad
I see that now, but I have got these at around $150.00 brand new."Factory serviced" means that it is a refurb or otherwise was returned because it had problems, was supposedly fixed and is for sale at a reduced price.