Archive for the VOIP Product Reviews Category

Easy set-up – Plug & Play!
The Uniden 1868P is really very easy to set up, and you can be making calls in next to no time. Simply plug the network cable from your DSL internet modem/router into the WAN port on the 1868P and attach your computer by plugging one end of the included cable into the LAN port on the phone and the other into your computer’s ethernet port. This system is designed to take full advantage of all the features of Packet8 internet phone service, supplying seamless integration with voicemail, call waiting, and other VoIP functions.

Value for money
In terms of what you get for your $75 outlay, this VoIP system is hard to beat. The unit has a substantial feel to it, with an overall impression of quality build. The aesthetics won’t be to everyone’s taste, but it’s otherwise difficult to find fault with the design. Included in the box is: Base unit with built-in router and Packet8-compatible system, corded handset, coiled handset cord, cordless handset, remote charger stand, battery pack, battery cover, two AC adapters, RJ45 network cord, instructions, Packet8 service activation information.

Great sound quality
When we used the Uniden 1868P, we experienced some great call quality, especially when compared to other Packet8 phones. In all instances, there was no echo and very minimal delay, even on “long-distance” calls. Providing you have a quality DSL provider, we’re confident that you’ll love everything about this VoIP phone package.

Overall Rating: 8/10

§         Requires broadband and Packet8 VoIP service; brings Packet8 service to your whole house

§         Expandable to 10 handsets, 1 included; corded handset on base

§         5.8 GHz digital spread spectrum technology; base speakerphone

§         100-number shared caller ID/phonebook memory per handset

§         Built-in router and firewall; supports connection of optional analog telephone

In a Wall Street Journal article printed last Thursday, it was revealed that Google is in the midst of an extensive development cycle for a new mobile phone and is currently in the market for operators in the US and Europe to support the phone. Such a phone would not only support most standard Google features, but VoIP and other software applications as well.Another report from Anian, a derivative of Reuters, also announced that the smartphone is being developed on a Linux operated platform and will be partnered with T-Mobile in the U.S. and the French Company, Orange, in Europe, with a prospective 2008 launch.

However, Google has apparently also been courting AT&T and Verizon to sell phones with Google’s mobile services preinstalled.The main issue for many mobile companies though is Google’s revenue sharing demands, something many providers are not keen on. However, as it stands T-Mobile, Vodafone and AT&T all use Google search services to some degree. It is only a matter of what degree Google is seeking to alter the status quo.

As for the phone, Google has not made any announcements and of course refuses to comment on the stories, but has stated in the past that the wireless market is important and a field in which they plan to expand into. They have created a handful of prototypes and have talked with numerous companies including LG about specifications for the new mobile phone.

It is still unknown though whether Google will aim to release a single, iPhone-style smartphone to tackle the market. The reports are largely based on the technical developments Google is making that would allow for them to cash in on the expanding Mobile ad market, expected to be worth almost $2.2 billion by 2010.

All of the speculation will likely be cleared up by the end of the year if Google does in fact intend on releasing their own mobile phone in 2008. However, the real interest lies in how exactly Google will implement their phone plans. If it is in fact an original design crafted by Google, in the famous Google Labs, the obvious question is how many Google features will be implemented?

It’s likely a move that will allow Google to offer full integration of their services, something the mobile companies have long since been unwilling to allow. By building their own prototypes, Google can ensure that kind of control. The most interesting aspect though is the possibility of advanced features such as VoIP, with Google’s M.O. always revolving around innovation. While Apple bent to the pressure from AT&T and the weak data network on which it was released, the Google Phone could almost assuredly be expected to include some form or another of VoIP support, whether through Google Talk, the newly purchased Grand Central, or another revolutionary feature specially constructed by Google.

These are all rumors of course; something Google is very good at creating and circulating. However, even if there is no Google phone in development and Google is simply trying to scare the mobile companies into cooperating with them, it is likely that eventually we will see advanced Google features on cellular phones, including VoIP. The prospect of mobile ad revenue is such that offering free phone calls in exchange for listening to or watching a couple of ads would be a realistic inclusion very soon.

For those that have jumped on board the VoIP revolution, it’s a revelation to find that you can easily add functionality and new features to your service with a quick download. There are VoIP startups littered throughout the internet trying to carve out a niche of their own by offering specialized features for maps, blogs, cell phones and stores. Therefore, there are a few features on the market now that you can download and utilize in conjunction with your VoIP service to enhance your overall service.

Web Conferencing
For a long time it was a pay only service, but with the advent of services like Yugma, it’s possible to access and utilize web conferencing services for free. Yugma’s service allows you to have up to 10 people in a conference at any given time, viewing a single document or program in use. The program works between different platforms, connecting PCs and Macs and combining numerous other technologies such as Linux. Yugma is amazing because it can be used and installed on blogs, stores and student web pages for instant collaboration.

Microblogging and Text Blasting
It’s a tiny niche, but it’s proven to be ridiculously popular thus far. Services such as Twitter allow you to easily and quickly send a text message through their site to dozens of friends, your Myspace page or to a blog widget with up to 140 characters describing what you’re up to. It’s a very simple service that basically allows people to inform all of their friends of what they’re doing without calling them or texting them individually. Look for this kind of service to expand in the future as well.

Click to Call Plugins and Widgets
In the last two or three years, the internet has exploded into a massive network of connections and constant communication. However, it’s been all text up until now. With the advent of simple, click to call widgets on your blog page or social network, it’s easier than ever to view someone’s profile, talk to them directly or leave a voice comment with the click of a mouse. It’s a burgeoning technology but new services such as Jaxtr and Direct CallBack are offering features that are far ahead of their time.

The ability to offer a call location on your computer to a blog or shopping site without actually giving out your home phone number or to have a widget that users can click on and call directly through to a cell phone are extremely popular and spreading rapidly.

Digital Switchboards
With the use of existing VoIP technology and programming, companies like GrandCentral are making it possible to actually control which phone and phone number a call rings through to when you receive a call. The program first accepts a call and shows you who is calling. You’re given one of three choices; take the call, send it to voicemail or use one of the special GrandCentral features.

These features include the ability to record the call while taking it or to listen to a voicemail as it is being left, providing the ability to screen calls in real time. During the listening in you can choose to take the call as well. Think of it like an old tape recording answering machine, only digital.

Along with advanced voice mail organization options, GrandCentral offers numerous features that take full advantage of the hybrid features of telecommunications and internet access.

The Cell Phone
The cell phone is the next step in the evolution of VoIP. Along with Mobile VoIP access, which we’ve covered at length in the past, cellular phones and WiFi access will make it possible utilize IP technology to send text messages, take calls from a web page, make free international phone calls through call back services and who knows what other features they’re currently dreaming up.

While the VoIP market continues to grow and boom, it’s the applications you can attach to that service that make it truly amazing. With the kind of functions that we could only have dreamt of 3 years ago, the worlds of communications are colliding at record pace. Soon enough, everything will run through the same lines and be fully integrated. It’s just a matter of how they decide to do it.

Starting Off
First off, you need a nice computer. It doesn’t have to be high end or brand new, but it does need to have a decent Ethernet Network card capable of accessing broadband internet access. The computer needs to be able to process the data coming through or you’re going to be dealing with choppy, battered phone calls. This doesn’t apply to most people, but if for some reason you’re still running that computer you bought in 1995 with its Pentium I Processor, it might be time for an upgrade.

Phone Options
There are over two hundred options currently on the market for IP phones. They range in quality, style overall effectiveness as well as cost and can be nearly anything you want from a phone if you’re willing to pay the price. Let’s take a look at some of the top options out there to make sure you have something that will cover everything you need but not cost you all that money you just saved by switching to VOIP.

U.S. Robotics USR9602 IP Phone
At only $20, this is a great phone option for those looking for something simple to plug into your computer. It works in tandem with Skype wonderfully to offer a full featured calling experience. You don’t get much from this USB phone though. There are no lights or indicators to tell you the basic information of your call. But, then again, you’re attached to your computer while calling where everything is already displayed, so does it matter all that much? The phone comes with dedicated Skype buttons and interface and all you have to do is install a driver and it’s ready to use. For ease of use at least, this one gets high marks. Call quality itself is top notch, with highly dedicated streaming audio, the equivalent of a 112 Kb/s encoded MP3.

Snom 360 IP Phone
Like many other midrange SIP phone options, this one has a lot of great features for home users and lacks a lot of important features for business users. It’s hard to find a perfect medium, something that has plagued phone purchasers for years. It’s in the middle range of price, around $100 and is about on par with any of the Linksys or D-Link mid-range phones. Offered independently of VoIP services, these phones are often designed to offer a small bit of freedom from the USB tethers of cheaper phones.
Buttons are small and the interface is slightly confusing, though it is mostly self-explanatory for those familiar with desktop phones. However, with some at home VoIP services, you might start to notice small issues and bugs with this and other less dedicated phones. This one in particular has been known to have issues with programming the buttons. Others such as the Linksys experience call quality problems. In general though, these mid range phones and the Snom itself work fairly well for anyone with a home office or a desire for a nicer phone. It’s businesses and tech-savvy people who should watch out those for this one.

Cisco 7961G IP Phone
When you begin to look at phones with all of the features you come to expect from high end electronics, you’ll find that Cisco makes some of the best, as they long have. Their 7900 series of IP phones, while priced slightly above $200 is probably the best option available for anyone looking to add a phone to their work desk or at home office. As a phone, it offers the same standard LCD display that you expect from a desktop phone and it works together with the necessary protocols to offer a full featured calling experience that you might not even realize is VoIP.

Speakerphone options and clarity levels have been touted repeatedly as some of the best available, specifically because of the high bandwidth dedication of these phones. The only draw backs on these phones are that they some models are limited to not headset options and often, in the case of power loss, a lot of memory is lost, including contact and speed dial numbers.

With dozens of companies releasing dozens of new software modules seemingly every week, it’s always nice to hear when one of the truly decent programs gets a full upgrade. This last week, Truphone released Truphone 3.0 and with it, their first full support of mobile VoIP Software. This new version comes chock full of new features including free mobile calls between all Truphone users and fairly inexpensive calls to everyone else.

It’s also possible now to use SMS over IP, something that furthers the viability of Mobile VoIP in comparison to cell phones. The service itself works right now only with Nokia’s N80 and N95 as well as their E-Series phones, though you can probably expect expanded support in the months to come.

The service is still considered to be in Beta, but with the expansion and inclusion of so many new features, it’s a viable option for anyone with one of Nokia’s new smart phones. The calling feature is fairly inexpensive for those with a means of connecting to data networks and the SMS option is free between other Truphone users and about .15 cents per message to anyone else.

Probably the best feature though is the ability to know when you’re paying for a call and when it’s free, something most companies would cringe at. It will go a long way in keeping phone bills to a minimum and not discovering much too late that that late night call to your girlfriend was actually a billed call. The service also offers a kind of “smart log on” which will automatically seek out and connect to local Wi-Fi access points. When those access points are not available, it’s still possible to access the service over 3G, though the appropriate fees that your cellular service charges will still apply.

What does all of this fancy new software mean for everyone else though? It’s a good picture into the future as to what Mobile VoIP service can and will offer in the coming months. Everyone has been asking what kind of features and quality of service we can expect from Mobile VoIP in the future and the newest version of Truphone is starting to show us exactly what that will be.

Basically, the main problem still remaining is the access points and the cost of Data use over 3G. With newer services constantly offering better features, soon smart phones with the right software will likely be offering better service and call quality over VoIP than what Cell service offers.

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