Yealink EXP50 Teams Expansion Module / Sidecar For T56A/T58A/MP56/MP58 Yealink Teams Desk Phones

Yealink T58a with EXP50 Expansion Module / Sidecar

The Yealink EXP50 sidecar for Teams desk phones gives a user an efficient way to reach out to frequently used contacts using their phone. A user can select and pin any contact group on the phone to the screen of the sidecar. This allows the user to quickly speed dial a contact with one click, more efficiently transfer calls, and know a contact’s presence at a glance.

Yealink phones support connecting up to 3 sidecars, each sidecar supports up to 3 pages of contacts, and each page holds up to 20 contacts for a total of 180 contacts.

Current Bugs

I will try to keep this list up to date as updated firmware becomes available.

  • When updating Favorites on other Teams clients the sidecar did not live update like all other clients including on the phones main screen. I needed to restart the phone to update the list on the sidecar. However if favorites were added on the phone it auto updated.
  • From certain screens including settings, and randomly while in a call the sidecar screen acts like it signed out, but still shows presence indicators on the buttons.

After a long wait and roughly a year after other brands like Yealink brought Microsoft Teams certified phones to the market, Poly “formerly Polycom” finally joined the party with the release of their CCX line of Microsoft Teams certified devices and I finally got my hands on one, the CCX 500.

CCX 500 with the optional handset and the interface set to dark mode.

The Good

  • The clean lines and elegant style make the CCX 500 fit in nicely to the aesthetics of a modern office.
  • The 5 inch touch screen is sharp, easy to read, and refreshingly fast and responsive compared to some of the other Teams certified devices I’ve tried.
  • I like the fact that it has actual buttons for the speakerphone, headset, mute, and volume, and there is a also a “Teams” button to be enabled with a future software update.
  • The handset and speakerphone are both clear and get plenty loud.
  • The inclusion of both USB A as well as a USB C port provide both current and future support of Teams certified headsets and accessories.
  • Built in Bluetooth for pairing Bluetooth headsets directly to the phone.
  • Wi-Fi can be added via USB dongle
  • On the top right there is a red light that blinks to notify you of voicemails.
With the clean lines and elegant look the CCX 500 would look good in any modern office.
CCX 500 USB Ports
With a USB A and USB C port the CCX 500 should support both current and future Teams certified headsets and accessories.
All the standard desk phone ports on the back, power input, POE Ethernet in, Ethernet out, RJ9 Legacy headset port, and the handset port.

The Not so Good

  • My biggest complaint isn’t against the CCX 500 specifically so much as the entire line of Poly Teams phones. Why is there not a single model with a physical dial pad, if a user doesn’t want to use a soft phone client and wants a desk phone instead, that user is probably also the type that wants to punch phone numbers into old fashioned physical buttons on a phone. I know a Dialpad isn’t not fancy, modern, or good looking, but I believe physical buttons “especially for the dial pad” is what users want.

Private Channels

Limit who can access specific channels within a team with Private Channels

Multi-Window Capabilities

Multi-Window allows users to open Chats and other specific parts of teams as separate windows.

A Few other notable new features either available now or coming very soon to Microsoft Teams .

  • Integration between Outlook and Teams to make it easier to collaborate.
  • Microsoft Whiteboard is now available in Teams Meetings via the share tray
  •  Yammer app for Teams makes Yammer communities, conversations, and live events accessible right within Teams.
  • Tasks in Teams gives you a new unified view of your personal and assigned tasks within Teams.
  • Live Captions in Teams Meetings makes meetings more inclusive, making it easier to follow the conversation as well as live translate.
  • New presenter and attendee controls allow meeting organizers to pre-define presenter and attendee roles for meeting participants
  • Safe Links in Microsoft Teams, powered by Office 365 Advanced Threat Protection, now safeguards Teams messages from harmful links in real time. 

NOTICE! This is NOT a Microsoft supported configuration! If this does not work or causes other issues in your environment I am not responsible, and Microsoft will likely not provide support.

First a shout out to my colleague Clayton Martin who helped me figure this out, you can follow him on Twitter @claytonjmartin.

The Scenario

You have Skype for Business or Lync On-Premises with enterprise voice deployed. You have Azure AD Connect setup and you may or may not already be using some Office 365 or Azure services. Now for some use case “I can’t imagine what” or for testing purposes you would like to enable Microsoft Teams Voice for the same user(s) that have SfB or Lync enabled On-Premises.

If you try to just license the users and enable Teams Voice without following these steps the users will not show up in the Teams or Skype for Business admin Portal and the dial pad will also not show in the Teams client. To enable the users online we need to trick Office 365 into thinking the user is homed online, to do that we will edit an Azure AD Connect rule to modify the user attributes in Azure AD.

Before Editing Azure AD Connect Rules
After Editing Azure AD Connect Rules

Editing Azure AD Connect Rule

  1. On the server running Azure AD Connect open the start menu and search for “Synchronization Rules Editor” right click and run as administrator.

2. Select “In from AD – User Lync” Rule, then click Edit.

3. You cannot edit default rules so you will get a prompt to disable the default rule and create an editable copy, select “Yes”.

4.In the new rule change the Precedence to 99, if you have other custom rules just make sure this number is lower than any other rules that may affect these attributes. Optionally you can change the name of the rule as and apply a scoping filter as well.

5. Select the “Transformations” tab on the left then find the target attribute labeled “msRTCSIP-DeploymentLocator”. Change the FlowType to “Constant” and set the source to “sipfed.online.lync.com”.

Save the synchronization rule and now just wait for Azure AD Connect to run, or in PowerShell force a full synchronization by running “Start-ADSyncSyncCycle -PolicyType initial” on the server running Azure AD connect. Once Azure AD Connect runs it will update the Azure AD user attributes tricking Office 365 into thinking that the users are homed online. Note that nothing is being updated or changed in your On-Premises environment or local AD so you should see no negative affects there, it is just updating Azure AD online attributes to enable Enterprise voice online. This method can also be used for doing a cut-over migration from Lync or SfB on-Premises to Teams Voice.

After spending six months with the Plantronics 8200 uc then switching to a Sennheiser MB 660 uc MS and using that for the last four months I thought I would share my thoughts on both. Lets start with the Plantronics.

Plantronics 8200 uc

Out of the box the 8200 UC feels solid, built to hold up to the day to day use and abuse of someone who travels, stuffs it into their backpack, and takes it everywhere. During my time with this headset I did just that, I took it on 4 international flights, used them for phone calls in the office, at home to listen to music, and even for a little gaming. During the flights the noise cancelling worked really well to block the noise of the jet and give me a private cocoon of quietness while providing excellent sound quality for both music and movies, and even after wearing them for a long 17 hour flight I didn’t find them uncomfortable at all. The Battery life surprised me by lasting 20+ hours with noise cancelling on high and cranking out audio at a good volume the entire time. I honestly didn’t have anything to complain about after using the 8200 uc, even the button layout was intuitive and I had no trouble learning where everything was without taking them off of my head.

Sennheiser MB 660 uc MS

The Sennheiser unit immediately stood out as looking more suit and tie than business casual like the Plantronics. The clean lines and the black leather with aluminum accents gives it a sharp look while being unassuming and sleek, overall I like the looks better but that’s subjective. The build quality feels just as good as the Plantronics and as far as durability from my perspective I would guess they would be quite similar. I didn’t get to take the Sennheiser on a flight but I did use the noise cancelling in the back of a car to compare and in that environment the Sennheiser is slightly better at blocking noise. On the Sound quality front I would pick the Sennheiser again, I’m no audiophile but the Sennheiser seems to have a wider range from the lows to the highs while also being a little more crisp. The battery life was good with no complaints, however that can’t be said about the controls. There is a touch pad on the right ear that controls nearly everything, swiping up and down for volume and right and left to skip tracks worked great, but the other gestures such as muting the microphone were hard to get right consistently and added a few frustrations while using them. The Sennheiser has noticeably deeper ear cups which some people may find better but it also has a tighter squeeze on the head which I tended to find uncomfortable after just a few hours of wearing them. However the real Stand out feature for me is the microphones, they are hands down the best microphones Built into a headset I have ever used, and I have a collection of great headsets. Even with someone talking loudly just 3 feet away from me the person on the other end of the call could hear me loud and clear while not even catching a trace of what the person next to me was saying or even hearing them at all.

In conclusion I can hardly pick a winner because both are great, if audio and microphone quality is top of your list pick the Sennheiser, if comfort and ease of use are more important pick the Plantronics, I dont think you will be disappointed with either option. If you have experience with either of these I would love to hear your thoughts, or if you want me to compare them to something else please leave a comment.