By Terry Currier
This page covers Internet Phone Service Video Phones Cell Phones Ear and Headsets Miscellaneous
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Internet Phone Service – VoIP
VoIP is Voice over IP - Internet using broadband. Typically describing any Internet connection that has a bit rate higher than 100kps. The term PSTN means Public Switched Telephone Network.
With the Actiontec Internet Phone Wizard using Skype Technologies’ Internet calling service, consumers can make and receive free, or low-cost Internet phone calls. Their Wizard product allows you to use the same phone for both regular and Internet calls, avoiding the complications of needing separate handsets for each. You can use your regular corded or cordless phone to call any Skype user for free, and anyone else at low SkypeOut rates. As a bonus, you get a second phone line free. If a family member is on a landline call in one room, you can pick up your Skype-connected phone in another, tap a few buttons, and make an Internet call on the spot. Just plug it into your PC, connect to Skype via the Internet, and dial anyone on your Skype “Speed-Dial” list. If you receive a regular call while you’re on the Skype conversation, press the # key twice to put the first call on hold and pick up the second. Calls made are as clear as regular connections, thanks to the latest echo-cancellation technology. No network configuration, change in firewall or router settings is required. Available for $70, cables for connecting the device to the PC and telephone are included. Minimum system requirements include a Windows 2000/XP PC with a 400 MH processor, and an available USB port, plus a LAN or modem-based Internet connection.
callEverywhere is Belkin's Broadband Phone Service which lets you make calls using your Internet connection and simplifies message management with voice mail, email, and calling features. With it users can access all their messages from any web-connected computer. The service is presently available nationwide, in 34 metropolitan areas and over 900 cities throughout the United States. It works exclusively with Belkin's VoIP Phone Adapter for which they give a lifetime warranty. Features include:
Calling plans: Three
home calling plans starting with the Basic 500. For $15/month they get
500 local and long distance minutes in the U.S. and Canada. Premium is $25/month
for unlimited local and long distance minutes in the U.S. and Canada. In
addition to voice mail, all business plans include a toll-free phone number and
With a free download you can use their callEverywhere SoftPhone letting you make calls with just your broadband Internet connection, PC microphone, and PC speaker. With it you get free calls to other callEverywhere customers, free email, call holding, voice mail, and 3-way conference calling. Get it at www.everywhere.net. Check the website for more plans.
Two plans with unlimited calling: Unlimited World at $20 month to 21 countries and the Plus at $25 to 35 countries. Simple unlimited In-State is $10. Features include:
For $12 a month their home plan will give you unlimited calls to anywhere in the United States and Canada. Calls are made through your landline phone. Local, 911, and 800 numbers are routed through the PSTN line. Long distance calls are made using the Dialpad 11 digit dialing.
The DVG-1120 is a VoIP Gateway equipped with two standard phone ports, one is a lifeline voice port for fail-over to standard phone services. There is one WAN Ethernet 10/100BaseTX Port, and one LAN Ethernet 10/100BaseTX Port. D-Link has partnered with VoiceGlo to bring an alternative VoIP solution to the market using the GloPhone Blue service. The service allows consumers to make unlimited point-to-point VoIP calling through a personal computer and the D-Link USB Phone (DPH-10U). Devices such as the DVG-1120 require a Call Management system to function. These services are offered independently of D-Link, but are only required if user would like to use voice features. Because it shares your single ISP IP address, it masks the local users' IP addresses from the outside world, preventing intruders and hackers from gaining access to network resources, data files or personal information. Support includes hardware based Quality of Service (QoS), voice compression, echo cancellation, dynamic latency (jitter) buffers, silence suppression, and comfort noise generation.
Use FWD to make free phone calls using your telephone, or computer and any broadband connection. You start by downloading a free, self-configuring program. Then combine it with a simple inexpensive converter and any home phone. Call from your house or a public hot-spot, for free. FWD allows you to make free phone calls using any broadband connection using devices that follow Internet standards. This can be a 'regular' telephone connected to a packetizer, an IP Phone or any number of free soft-phones (software for your PC or PDA). To make free calls, you and the person you wish to call need to sign up for FWD and install a IP phone, Phone & Adapter, or software. Using a prefix access code, FreeWorldDialup customers can call the subscribers of most non-FWD Internet telephone services (e.g., Vonage, Packet8).
First month is free and they give a 30 day money back guarantee. Cost is $20 a month. You can choose a area code number from 46 states and 14 countries. Over 25 calling features including voicemail to email, 3 way calling, caller ID, and call forwarding.
FWD Communications www.pulver.com/communicator
A free download, the pulver.Communicator provides Instant Messaging service with which subscribers can send IMs to the four most popular IM networks (AOL, Yahoo!, ICQ, and MSN). The Call-Me Link feature can be used to establish VoIP connections with non-SIP-enabled Buddy List contacts. The recipient of a Call-Me Link need not be a Free World Dialup subscriber, they just need to be running XP on a PC that has a microphone and speakers. Now users can broadcast video to their SIP-enabled contacts via webcam and receive webcam video from those contacts as well.
Anyone with broadband Internet access can use their regular phone to make unlimited calls to anywhere in the U.S. and Canada for $20 per month. Upon signing up you are shipped a broadband telephone adapter (at no extra cost). Along with the equipment, you will receive a 10-digit activation code. Packet8 will transfer your existing number or give you a new telephone number from the area code of your choice. There are no extra numbers to dial, no special instructions and no talking through your computer. Just pick up your phone, and dial any phone number. Incoming calls ring your phone the same as any traditional phone. Features include voicemail, caller ID, call forwarding, and three way calling.
Combining a voice gateway and a broadband router in a single unit, the Z-Connect router AVRO 3001 features a standard analog telephone port, one WAN Ethernet 10/100Base TX port, and four LAN Ethernet 10/100 Base TX ports. Simply plug your phone into the telephone port to get the benefits of VoIP service. The router also allows two or more PCs to share a single Internet access point, and provides Internet security as well. The Z-Connect G668 telephone is an IP device that plugs directly into your broadband connection for instant VoIP capability. Additional features include advanced QoS (Quality of Service) technologies such as CODEC negotiation, enhanced jittering technology, lost packet reconstruction, echo cancellation and packet delay recovery to provide reliable high-quality voice communications. Users can make phone calls to any phone number with the Soyo IP phone service, which is pre-loaded to the IP phone set. Cost is $180. Basic plan is: Free IP to IP calls or within the Z 2 Z Network, No monthly fee, and no activation or cancellation fee.
PDT introduced the VoIPVoice Cyberphone K USB telephone that is integrated with Skype. Powered through the USB and all the necessary telephone functions used with Skype are accessed direct from the unit itself. The keypad enable users to scroll through their list of contacts, adjust the call volume, and mute calls. Simply lifting the handset from its base automatically opens the Skype application on the computer screen. Acoustically isolated speaker and microphone eliminate echo. Available online for $60.
Launching their first consumer Voice over IP product, DTA 200 Digital Telephone Adapter is a 5.8GHz digital expandable cordless phone with a built-in VoIP adapter. It converts standard telephone signals to a VoIP digital signal so they can be sent across a broadband Internet connection. It supports two telephone lines and features like Caller ID, Call Waiting and 3-Way Calling. The UIP1868 is a 5.8GHz digital expandable cordless phone with built-in VoIP adapter, expandable up to ten handsets, allowing consumers to experience the extended features, convenience and affordability of VoIP communication in every room of their homes.
With the Vonage Premium Unlimited Plan you can make unlimited calls anywhere in the United States and Canada for $25 a month. Free features including: voicemail, caller ID with name, call waiting, call forwarding, and 3-way calling. No contract to sign, pick area code you want. You can get a Toll free number for $5 per month allowing your incoming caller to call you at no charge from anywhere in the US, anytime. 100 incoming minutes are included every month and each additional minute is 4.9 cents. You can add on SoftPhone and turn any PC or laptop into a full-functioning telephone. Vonage features include voicemails, caller ID with name, call forwarding, and more.
Video Phones return to top
The i2eye™ DVC-2000 Broadband VideoPhone is a full-featured desktop videoconferencing device with a built-in 5" color LCD screen. It is a standalone device, using advanced video compression technology, maximizing the image and audio quality within the available bandwidth. It can send and receive video at up to 30 frames per second to deliver real-time audio and video. With Auto IP Mapping initiating a videoconference call over the Internet is as simple as dialing a phone number. Instead of identifying your IP address, you will assign it a "phone number" of your choice. As incoming i2eye callers dial that phone number, a remote directory service provided by D-Link (at no charge) automatically converts it into your i2eye's corresponding IP address. For added convenience, a speakerphone mode provides you with hands-free videoconferencing. The privacy mode blocks video and/or audio from being sent to the other end of the call.
Leadtek Research www.leadtek.com
The BVP8882 is a standalone videophone that makes phone calls without a computer. The 5” LCD screen and CCD camera are mounted on a platform which can be rotated and tilted, providing clear viewing even in a dimly lit environment. It is perfect for videoconferencing, distance learning, visual consultancy, personal identification, video surveillance, and sign language communication. Priced at $599 SRP, it connects to a broadband network via a router, ADSL modem, or cable modem. There is a built-in USB port. The phone has a built-in microphone and speakerphone. Video and audio can also be recorded to external devices, such as a VCR, through built-in video and audio connectors.
Their Leadtek BVP8759 is a Set-Top Box Videophone using the TV as a videophone display. A corded or cordless microphone connects the user’s voice to the unit. Priced at $499 SRP. Both units come with a baby monitor mode.
Ojo is designed for broadband leveraging the existing cable and DSL infrastructure. As a SIP-compliant endpoint, it requires no additional headend equipment for DOCSIS® cable modems. Users can make IP video calls and PSTN or VoIP voice-only calls over a current telephone number. Comes with a 5.6" diagonal LCD monitor, with high-resolution 16:9 display, true-to-life video and audio quality, and Picture-based caller ID and phonebook. Callers can leave both a video and voice message. Video is transmitted at 30 frames per second. MSRP is $799.
Subscribers with videophones can make video calls for $30 per month. They get world wide unlimited calling to other Packet8 subscribers at no extra charge. Calls to non-Packet8 international numbers (outside the U.S. and Canada) are charged at a low per minute rate. Incoming calls ring your phone the same as any traditional phone. Features include voicemail, caller ID, call forwarding, and three way calling.
Cell Phones return to top
LG Electronics www.lge.com
PM-325 Bluetooth Slide-Design Mobile Phone is LG’s first handset featuring Bluetooth technology. Features an integrated CMOS digital camera with 8x digital zoom and built-in self-portrait mirror, Web browser with image support, email capability and a voice memo recorder. Available now at a SRP of $230.
A7110 has a slide design, highlighted by the full color LCD screen. It features EDGE class 10 capabilities for High-Speed Data Transmission, Mobile Instant Messenger, two-way short messaging services and photo caller-ID. Its integrated camera and advanced messaging features allow users to send photos and videos with personalized text, voice and/or sound.
The VX8000 features Video and Music on Demand for streaming, downloading and playing video and audio clips, Video Messaging capabilities and an integrated CCD 1.3 mega pixel camera with macro mode with four digital zoom settings for shooting video and still images. Users can compose and view their shots with large internal and external 262K TFT color LCD screens. It has a 500 contact phone book, MIDI sound, personal organizer and more.
Unveiled was the Samsung's p207, the first phone with the new VoiceMode technology that allows consumers to simply speak the words of a message and have the phone translate those exact words into text. This voice activated text messaging application allows users to quickly and easily address the message then use their voice to create text, bringing virtually hands-free and eyes-free communication to text messaging. Using advanced voice activation technology, consumers also can send pre-programmed short messages with the sound of their voice.
The QuickPhrase feature debuting on Samsung's a890 makes it easy for consumers to address a message and activate one of the frequently used short messages pre-programmed in the phone. Once in the messaging application, users can activate phrases such as “Call me” or “Will call you later” by simply speaking those words, and the text is included in the message. Features include: V Cast allowing the user to download and view video clips from a library of content all from your phone. Choose from premium content, 3-D games, music videos, and other premium video clips. EV-DO, a broadband high-speed data service. 1.3 Megapixel digital camera. Also shown: QVGA phone that allows consumers to record up to one hour of high quality video directly on their phone, connect the phone to their television and view the video on TV; the U.S.'s first multi-mega pixel camera phone line up, including a two mega pixel and a five mega pixel camera with 3X optical zoom capabilities.
Along with Sprint and announced plans today to offer Sanyo’s first multimedia phone, the Sprint PCS VisionSM Multimedia Phone MM-7400. Allows customers to view on-demand streaming video and audio as well as shoot VGA pictures and extended 30-second video clips with the integrated camera and camcorder. The phone also offers capabilities for walkie-talkie style communication. Suggested retail price is $380 or $230 after rebate. Customers get streaming audio and video content from sources such as: NBC Mobile, CNN, ABC News, FOX Sports, and The Weather Channel. Multimedia content is delivered to the handset at up to 15 frames per second. The integrated camera features a built-in three-mode flash, and the camcorder has a movie light for low-light situations. With Picture MailSM and Sprint PCS Video Mail, users can instantly take and share special moments with family and friends.
Ear and Headsets return to top
Body Glove markets a number of different models carried by Fellowes. They include the Earglove line and Bluetooth headset. www.fellowes.com
Cardo Systems uses Bluetooth for connection to phones. Their WindGuard™ technology overcomes wind interference. The scala-500™ comes equipped with all high end features and weighs only .58 oz (16.8 g). The user will get up to 9 hours of talk time. www.cardowireless.com
Flamingo it’s weight is 8 grams, there is a standby time up to 130 hours, and 8 hours of talk time. It uses Bluetooth for connectivity. www.flamingo-headset.com
GN Netcom has three ear pieces with various lengths for the microphone from the ear. They also have headphone units. www.gnnetcom.com
Plantronics has the largest selection of headsets and ear pieces. They range computer pieces, to cell phone, to even units especially made for VoIP. www.plantronics.com
Miscellaneous return to top
Cellboost is a disposable battery/charger for cell phones from Compact Power Systems. They deliver an average of 60 minutes of talk time with no need for electrical outlet. The small unit plugs into the normal AC slot of the phone and gets it a boost of power. They announced they are expanding into units for camcorders, Nintendo Game Boy Advance SP, and Apple iPods. Unit typically sell for $6-$7.
A personal assistant telephone service, they introduced a voice e-mail retrieval feature that allows those on the go to read and respond to e-mail without access to a computer. The first five calls are free, additional calls cost 89 cents for any call up to 15 minutes and 5 cents per minute after that. The StarBack® feature allows users to make numerous calls within one 15-minute session. After being connected with the first person users can press the star key, return to the operator, free of charge, and be connected with the next listing, check e-mail, ask for directions, etc. The feature can be used up to four times in one call. There is 24/7 access to a live personal telephone assistant who can assist with a number of services, including:
Orb Networks www.orb.com
A developer of streaming media software and services for mobile devices. It provides a simple way for consumers to view, hear and control all kinds of their digital content from virtually any Internet-enabled device, from anywhere in the world. Their solution provides access to a person’s music, live television, videos, photos and other digital content from any device that can connect to the Internet, such as a cell phone, PDA, or notebook, allowing users to create their own “personal media portal.” Using any web browser it provides a simple, intuitive interface to the user’s content located on their home PC or on the Internet.
A subsidiary of Thomson was showing the RCA Cell Phone Docking System (Model 23200). It is for households that do not have a landline telephone. Place the docking system in a room that receives the clearest cellular reception, then while it charges, the digital handset(s) are used to make or answer calls anywhere in the home. Users with a landline telephone can plug the phone wire into the docking system, essentially creating an instant “second” phone line. To identify whether a call is coming in on the home telephone or the cell, the handset features different ring tones, and separate buttons allow the option of making calls using cell minutes or the home phone line. The system also features a call timer to track cell minutes used while the user’s cell phone is in the docking system. Available in the spring, the suggested retail price of the RCA Cell Docking System is $150.
Texas Instruments www.ti.com/wireless
You won’t see it right away but TI announced development of the wireless industry’s first digital TV on a single chip for cell phones, which will capture broadcast signals and allow cell phone users to watch live broadcasts. Code-named “Hollywood,” the chip will receive live digital TV broadcasts using new television infrastructure. The broadcast TV will be at 24-30 frames per second, paired with full audio.
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Winners is a member of the Association of Personal Computer User Groups (APCUG) is an international, platform-independent, nonprofit corporation (incorporated in Washington, DC) devoted to helping user groups throughout the world. Almost 400 user groups are members of APCUG. http://www.apcug.net/