If you are going to make an impact in this day and age, appearance is so important. Make no mistake, if you are going to produce the sizzle you need to produce the sausage too, but the sizzle is what makes people listen. In marketing terms, this means that you need to catch the eye in an impressive way and 8×8 have made no mistake on that front. Their commercial website is genuinely impressive. It has to be said that they have produced the sizzle – so how about the sausage? Is it a disappointing conclusion or an example of expectations being delivered upon?
Cost: It has to be said, 8×8’s service is not cheap. There are more expensive ones around, but the standard service, Business Basic, costs $39.99 per month and the activation fee is another $29.99 on top. That said, you don’t need to pay for the equipment they send you out, which leaves you up on the deal at least initially – the equipment costs $79.99 to buy, so you are saving $50 in up front costs. You will also find that there are certain taxes and regulatory fees appended to your bill, although these do not amount to much by comparison. For your money you can have unlimited local and long-distance calls, low prices on international calls and free calls to anyone anywhere in the world on the same network. As it costs a fair whack, but offers a lot, the mark is 7/10.
Ease of Installation: The equipment provided with the service when you sign up is a combined router, adapter and phone and setting it up is pretty simple. The instructions provided are detailed and set out in an understandable way, taking you through the steps required of you. Should you find yourself tangled up in the process, then you can always contact the customer service department by phone or by using the live chat service. Whichever way you do it you will be able to find a way through – and it needn’t take long to do it, so it is a very simple installation process and deserves a mark of 9/10.
Tech Support: The website carries a comprehensive list of guides and manuals along with a highly detailed FAQ section. In addition to this, the website also features a pair of images that allow you to contact the support section; you can call at any time between 7am and 7pm (Pacific Time) or you can use the handy Live Chat system from eight in the morning until five in the evening. It’s a fairly comprehensive set-up, although it does not allow you the option to email the company. That’s not too big a deal, as email is one of the less preferred options due to its lack of immediacy. For the sake of completeness it would be nice, but it doesn’t lose them as many marks as it would had they failed to provide a phone line or Live Chat, and so they still score 7/10.
Quality of Voice Service: The quality provided is impressive, and you won’t find reason to complain about clarity of service or loss of functionality. There’s nothing to set it out at the head of a crowd, but you have to question what that would be – you can always hear the person on the other end and they can always hear you so there’s nothing to fault there. Possibly there could be a little more clarity, but that’s really nit picking when you consider that the voice service is probably a lot clearer than copper wire phones we were using a few years ago. It would be reasonable to give it a mark of 8/10.
Speed: There is a reassuring promptness about the system, and it is just as well considering the prices paid monthly. Calls will connect quickly and will be free of lagging, if our extensive testing is any way to judge. It’s probably not the fastest service, statistically, but there’s no difference that you will notice from using the system and it is certainly not a system that will have you cursing under your breath while you wait for the system to kick into gear. It’s not so fast that you’ll be blown away by the service, but it would be a reach to ask for that and the service is deserving of a mark of 8/10.
Features: It’s tricky to judge the set of features that 8×8 will give you – there’s no doubt that they are good features, but there’s not a whole lot here that makes it stand out. That’s not always a criticism; no VoIP service should be judged specifically on its features. However, if you are going to charge what 8×8 are charging for their service then you could probably do with throwing in a few more features than they are doing – companies such as Voipo offer more for less. There is plenty on offer here and it is of a high quality – that is in no dispute. But other companies will offer the same and charge less, some will even offer more and charge less. Therefore, it is hard to rate 8×8 at anything higher than 7/10. It is to be hoped that if they get more market traction they will offer a bit more to their customers.
Overall: To sum up what 8×8 are offering, it has to be said that there’s a lot to be impressed about, and it’s far from a bad service. Their website is remarkable and leads you to expect more than they ultimately deliver, although we’re not judging them on the website or its promises. What we are judging them on is what they offer and what they charge, and while what you will get if you sign up to 8×8 is very impressive, the amount that they are charging means that you would expect better still. The overall mark of 46 out of 60 has to come with the caveat that it’s not the best value service, and if you are looking for a budget option you’re well advised to keep looking.