RingCentral Office review: Calling the shots
A cloud VoIP service that sets the standard for ease of use, features, flexibility and affordability
RingCentral Office is one of the best cloud-hosted VoIP services around, providing a wealth of enterprise-class communications features at a price that’s right for SMBs. Indeed, this latest version brings a raft of new features that turn the service into a bona fide unified communications solution.
The video, team messaging, fax and cloud-phone services have been brought together, for example. Before, you had to use separate apps for these, but now they have been integrated into one place, giving users a central hub for communication and collaboration.
In fact, you don’t even need to install the app, as the features can all be accessed via any browser with WebRTC enabled. Simply point it at RingCentral’s app URL, log in with your credentials and you’ll be looking at the same interface as in the app, with the ability to make calls, start or join video meetings and share files.
It’s all very easy to use: select an individual contact and a request box pops up with instant options to make a phone call, start a video meeting or send a message. Lists of personal, team and company contacts make it a breeze to set up larger meetings.
RingCentral’s videoconferencing features deserve particular praise; the app has all sorts of clever capabilities, including breakout rooms for splitting meeting participants into smaller groups, and the ability to overlay video onto the screen being presented. Virtual backgrounds can be added too – you can use the predefined library of images or upload your own, and even make meetings more fun by uploading videos or GIF files to provide animated backgrounds.
The administrative cloud portal has been spruced up too, with the homepage providing quick access to all features. You can create multiple sites, each with its own set of business hours and auto-receptionist, which plays a recorded message asking callers to enter an extension or wait to be connected to an operator.
User setup starts with creating an extension, then assigning it a number from the pool and optionally provisioning a physical handset. If you don’t have a handset, RingCentral can provide a big selection, including models from Cisco, Poly, Unify and Yealink – or you can skip the hardware and just use the mobile or desktop apps, all of which are included in the price.
We opted to use our own Yealink T48S handsets, and this went perfectly smoothly. The portal provided a provisioning URL, and when we visited this from each phone’s web console, the appropriate settings were automatically applied. Our older Yealink T23G models proved a little trickier – here we had to manually enter our account and SIP trunk details. This wasn’t hard, though, as the RingCentral welcome email provided clear instructions.
Once a user’s extension is set up they get a good range of call-handling features. Every user can set up a personal recorded greeting message, and choose from a range of call connecting and on-hold music themes. Call forwarding can be configured by creating rule sets: after a set period of ringing, calls can be transferred to a specified extension, a specified user, an external number or voicemail.
As for pricing, you have a choice of four packages. The Entry option starts at a low £8 per user per month, and provides each one with 100 minutes of free outbound calls, as well as features such as voicemail and team messaging. To get HD video meetings, you’ll need to step up to the Standard package, which starts at £15 per month and increases the monthly outgoing call allowance to 750 minutes.
RingCentral Office is a smart cloud-hosted communications solution that comes with outstanding videoconferencing services. It’s easy to deploy, the new desktop apps are very impressive and it’s offered in a range of affordable plans.
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