SUBSCRIBE TO TMCnet
TMCnet - World's Largest Communications and Technology Community

CHANNEL BY TOPICS


QUICK LINKS




Vonage V-Phone Review

 

Back toIP CommunicationsCommunity

 

July 05, 2006

Vonage V-Phone Review



By Tom Keating
Chief Technology Officer and Executive Editor


Originally posted in Tom Keating’s VoIP & Gadgets Blog
 
 
Vonage (News - Alert) sent me one of their V-Phone USB devices to review. As you probably recall, I wasn't very keen on the V-Phone, but I decided to go ahead and test the V-Phone anyway.
 
The concept of the V-Phone is that it's a small portable device that you can take anywhere and your phone number (and inexpensive VoIP minutes) will follow you. I received my eval unit on June 30th and I attempted to install it on my work PC.
 
I inserted the 256MB V-Phone into an available USB slot. I could see the device installing itself but the softphone client never popped up. I opened Windows Explorer and clicked on the newly created drive letter and received this lovely error message:



This error "can" be related to Group Policy restrictions on an Active Directory network, however I am the CTO of our network, so I don't have any Group Policy restrictions on my PC. It was partially installed since I now had a new USB audio device named "C-Media USB Headphone Set". I was able to listen to music using the included headphones that I connected to the headphones jack on the V-Phone.
 
In any case, I tinkered with it for a bit before finally giving up and then trying the Vonage V-Phone on another PC. One theory I have yet to try is to uninstall Daemon Tools, a utility for mounting ISO CD/DVD images, but it also reserves a drive letter, which may have caused a conflict. Although, I have never had a problem installing other USB Flash drives.


Vonage V-Phone Box Contents

In any event, I installed the V-Phone on a second PC (and later two laptops) and the installation went smoothly. The Vonage V-Phone client popped up in about 30 seconds and I was able to immediately make and receive phone calls. The nice thing about the V-Phone software is that it doesn't install onto the hard drive; it simply runs the executable file directly from the Flash drive.

Here's a screenshot of an incoming call - notice how you can see the CallerID with Name, and have an option to accept or reject the call.



The softphone client also features a History tab to show your call log as well as a Contacts page. The Contacts page lets you add contacts with phone numbers for speed-dial capabilities. You can also organize contacts into groups. During my test calls the voice quality was very good. I don't believe Vonage uses either GIPS's or Spirit DSP's voice engines for better voice quality, but I was still pleased with the voice quality.

Conclusion

Calling plans for the V-Phone are identical to Vonage’s traditional service offerings. It costs $15 per month for 500 minutes, $25 for unlimited residential service and $35 for business use.
 
The V-Phone isn't a replacement for a traditional Vonage phone line. In fact, if you are currently a Vonage customer with an existing Vonage number, you have to order a separate Vonage phone number for the V-Phone. Vonage doesn't offer the ability to have a single phone number married to both. This would actually be a nice feature—simply take the V-Phone when on the road and your home phone calls are automatically routed to your laptop/PC when you plug in the device.

Although, I had difficulty on one PC, the V-Phone performed flawlessly on three other computers. It does what it is advertised to do, namely give you the ability to carry your phone number with you for use on a Windows computer/laptop (no Mac or Linux client).
 
Arguably a cellphone can do the same exact thing (carry your phone number), especially since many cellphone service providers offer a large bucket of minutes or even unlimited plans for a fixed price, which negates VoIP's advantage over cellphones.
 
With this in mind, you have to wonder why a person would even need the Vonage V-Phone. I will say that the V-Phone could come in handy if you make a lot of international phone calls, since cell phone calls to international destinations are still outrageously expensive. Then again, you can head over to Skype (News - Alert), download the Skype client for free and charge your SkypeOut account with $40 worth of phone minutes instead of paying $40 for the V-Phone.

I guess for $40 you get a nice 256MB USB flash drive. Then again you can pick up a 256MB USB flash drive from Amazon for $13.99 or less. Sigh. Well, at least the V-Phone USB stick is a pretty orange.
 
Tom Keating is CTO of TMC and Executive Technology Editor for TMC Labs. For more articles, please visit Tom Keating’s columnist page.

 

Back to IP Communications Community





Technology Marketing Corporation

2 Trap Falls Road Suite 106, Shelton, CT 06484 USA
Ph: +1-203-852-6800, 800-243-6002

General comments: [email protected].
Comments about this site: [email protected].

STAY CURRENT YOUR WAY

© 2021 Technology Marketing Corporation. All rights reserved | Privacy Policy