Whether it’s a satellite medical office, or a remote construction site, or a regional branch of your favorite bank, or a temporary broadcast studio in Beijing, or a home office or hotel room of an architect, lawyer, or candlestick maker, the little black box on the left is poised to revolutionize the way we all do business… securely. All you need is an Internet connection. Plug it in, turn it on, wait for the LCD to display the machine’s IP address, make a quick change of the IP address on your cordless or desktop phones to match the display, and presto. Instant telephony… to anywhere, from anywhere in the world! Total setup time until you make your first call: about a minute. And the system supports 25 extensions and 10 simultaneous IP calls assuming you have available bandwidth.

When the LCD illuminates and the little heart (lower left) starts blinking, you’ve also got a secure and free communications system back to the mothership through an encrypted VPN tunnel for all your calls. Your existing commercial phone numbers and extensions still work just as they always have except now they also ring in your hotel room. And when you move to a different town tomorrow night, nothing changes except your IP address. Your phones continue to ring just as if you were sitting in your home office. There’s one major difference with VPN in a Flash. You won’t be getting a phone bill or an astronomical installation charge from Ma Bell or Comcast. It really is plug-and-play.

So where can you get one? Well, at the moment, it’s in our breakfast room. And tomorrow it will be taking a last trip to the beach house. And next week, it’ll be at a show in Atlanta. But soon… you can order one from your friends at PBX in a Flash. We’re working very hard to keep the price under $500. And when you consider the cost of a night on the town, that’s pretty sweet. The current IP-only version of this super-quiet machine includes a travel-friendly, solid state drive instead of a hard disk, an Intel Atom motherboard with a gig of RAM, and a power brick. And on the software side, you get the full-blown CentOS 5.2 Linux operating system with the latest and greatest version of PBX in a Flash including Asterisk® and FreePBX. The system also includes a preconfigured firewall and VPN server. Customizations can be made using any web browser on the LAN… once you know your IP address. And, of course, you’ll get the entire suite of PBX in a Flash utilities: telephone reminders and wakeup calls, weather, news, and tide reports by phone, your complete Rolodex-like talking directory to make calls, and the rest of the Nerd Vittles goodie bag. In addition, this unit is an all-purpose fax machine. Inbound faxes are delivered to your email address or iPhone, and outbound faxes can be generated and sent using almost any PDF document. Simply stated, this hardware device is the PBX in a Flash interpretation of what an Office in a Box really should be!

If you’d like to get in the queue and place a reservation for a system, now’s the time. While it’s not likely to match the iPhone stampede, there undoubtedly will be delivery delays based upon our market surveys. Just send us a note, and we’ll keep you posted as the release date approaches. It’ll hold your place in line with absolutely no obligation to purchase. Stay tuned!


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FULL DISCLOSURE: RentPBX, Amazon, Vitelity, DigitalOcean, Vultr, Digium, Sangoma, 3CX, TelecomsXchange and others have provided financial support to Nerd Vittles and our open source projects through advertising, referral revenue, and/or merchandise. We’ve chosen these providers not the other way around. Our decisions are based upon their corporate reputation and the quality of their offerings and their pricing. Our recommendations regarding technology are reached without regard to financial compensation except in situations in which comparable products at comparable pricing are available from multiple sources. In this limited case, we support our sponsors because our sponsors support us.

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This article has 10 comments

  1. Open VPN or Hamachi?

    [WM: Yes.]

  2. OK, put me on the list as a possible.

  3. If you had two network cards in the machine you could have a DHCP server for the phones that would always give them their own address without having to change the server IP of the phone plugged into it.
    Which VPN technology are you using? I’d probably use Open VPN.

    [WM: Sorry. No room for a second NIC.]

  4. So, which is it? Open VPN or Hamachi? Or something else entirely? Also, will this be upgradable to PiaF 1.3 (and above) and be compatible with SUSHI?

    [WM: It’s Hamachi for reasons we will explain shortly. And, yes, the system will come with PiaF 1.3 and be compatible with SUSHI.]

  5. Can you provide any specs on how much power it will use? Does it support any analog lines – my wife won’t let me get rid of our Bell line :(.

    [WM: It only has a 90 watt power supply so… not much. As for analog, there’s no room in this box for a card. But you can add an inexpensive ATA to provide analog phone support.]

  6. Beijing, do you think they allow vpn connections through the great firewall of china?

  7. Yes, Beijing allows VPN through their firewall, but the big challenge with VOIP from Asia is latency…West Coast is 200ms or so, but Central or East Coast is pushing 300ms, and that is without the VPN overhead. This is from experience.

  8. That’s a good looking rig! Say, is there a module for PIAF that works like the trixbox module, allowing me to show server stats on my crystalfontz 635?

  9. I want to get a small box like that for my home Asterisk, where can I get one?

    [WM: Add yourself to the reservation list. The link is in the article.]

  10. Now this is my idea of a low cost phone system. The Cisco ASA-IP phone setup will have run for its money with this bad boy!!!!