VOIP Phones

Category: Telephony

Voice over IP (VoIP) is a great alternative to the traditional landline phones for making phone calls. VoIP even beats cell phones on price - it's free from service providers such as Skype, Yahoo! Voice, and others. But the hardware you use to make free Internet phone calls is another matter. Here's the scoop on the gear you need to make free VOIP calls from your computer...

VOIP Phones

VoIP Phones for Notebooks and Desktops

VoIP is a technology that's been around for several years, and although it sounds geeky, it boils down to making a phone call over the Internet. Earphones and a VoIP microphone are the basic tools. They do double duty for listening to music privately and recording memos or presentations. But they're bulky and you have to plug in two separate wires for every phone call if you're on the road with a notebook computer. But there are also Internet VoIP phones that look and work more like a traditional telephone and are much handier for mobile users.

Desktop VoIP handsets look and feel just like regular telephones, and come in just as many variations. There are corded and cordless Internet desktop phones; phones with buttons and LED displays for businesses; even Princess-style and Mickey Mouse VoIP phones for the home. The main distinction from regular phones is how VoIP handsets connect to the network.

A USB desk phone plugs into a USB port on your desktop computer. The computer is running "softphone" software that handles VoIP functions. Softphone software may be used with earphones and mic or with a USB desk phone; the latter involves one less wire to manage and you don't have to fumble around for earphones and mic when a call comes in; just pick up the phone and press a button to talk.

A VoIP phone may also connect wirelessly via Bluetooth or WiFi. Such cordless Internet phones are handy around the home or office.

Where to Buy a VoIP Phone

Echostore sells VoIP desk phones and other Internet phones, along with many kinds of high tech products. VoIP phones are also available through office supplies retailers, Skype, Wal Mart, computer dealers, and many online stores.

Notebook VoIP handsets are generally smaller than desktop handsets, about the size of a cell phone. They may plug into a USB port or use Bluetooth to connect wirelessly to a laptop softphone. The Genius Navigator 380 is a combination of a USB mouse and clamshell Internet phone; just open the case to talk!

Then there are standalone VoIP phones that don't have to be plugged into a computer running softphone software. Instead, such phones connect to a home or office network via Ethernet cable or some wireless technology. They can be as portable as WiFi-enabled notebook computers, too.

The Blackberry 9800 mobile VoIP phone, announced in July, 2010, is an example of a standalone wireless Internet phone. It uses a new operating system developed by RIM (Research In Motion) to provide speedy mobile Web browsing and other Smartphone features. It has an LCD screen and even a slide-out keyboard. RIM's Blackberry has been losing market share to other mobile devices, and the company hopes the Blackberry 9800 will help reverse that trend.

Do you have a VoIP phone for your notebook computer? Post a comment or question below...

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Most recent comments on "VOIP Phones"

Posted by:

03 Aug 2010

I was getting dropped calls on my Magicjack, which I have had on my previous computer for 18 months w/WXP, and I spent 2.5 hours today on Chat with a "top 10%" technician and if appears to finally be solved. It would drop calls at 5:13 every time! I made a 30 minute call after various resettings today without a hitch!!

Posted by:

03 Aug 2010

In Australia the phone companies charge for line rental. If you convert to VoIP then you don't pay line rental, but as your computer now has to run 24/7 many would be consuming more electricity than before. (Really good for the environment) Would the saving in phone charges and line rental be greater than the cost of the extra electricity consumed? I know some people already run their PCs 24/7 so this is not an issue with them, but mine runs only 8 to 10 hours a day. N.B. I am pretty ignorant about VoIP so I might be barking uo the wrong tree here.

Posted by:

03 Aug 2010

I have had Vonage VOIP service since December 2005 and it has been great. For the first year and a half I experienced dropped calls but found the problem was my Cable service provider and I changed providers. Since then there have been no problems. Being able to call anywhere in the US and Canada is great. I was also able to select a telephone exchange that covered the entire local and suburban area so our children & grandchildren could call without toll fees. I use a standard 5.8GHz telephone system (4-phones) - only the base is connected to the telephone adapter which is wired to my Cable Router/Modem. Instead of $50+/month for local calls from C&P Telephone + any long distance charges it is $34/Mo. including taxes. The adapter can also be taken on a trip to another location and connected to a modem there. The only requirement is to notify Vonage of the temporary location. Highly Recommended.

Posted by:

03 Aug 2010

MAGICJack is Awesome.
Initially I had trouble with it. However, when I purchased a cheap powered usb hub the trouble vanished!
(I discovered that the two USB ports on my laptop were NOT supplying enough juice).

You just plug in MAGICJack into a USB port; connect a regular phone to the device . . . Voila!
You now can make All the Local and LONG Distance phone calls you want!!!
(You can also use the MJ with a headset)

All of this great service for $19.99 PER YEAR (after paying the initial $39.99 for the MJ device and one year of service)

Note: I was not paid to give this endorsement.
I wanted to relate how well the MJ has performed in my home since I purchased it over Two years ago.



Posted by:

MaryAnn Linehan
03 Aug 2010


First, thank you for all the helpful info. I have ViaTalk VOIP and a Panasonic 4-line phone.
Before I got this phone, everything was perfect but this phone must be rebooted/unplugged after calls so it will work corrctly. I asked Panasonic but they were no help. Does anyone have any idea how I can fix this.

Many thanks,


Posted by:

05 Aug 2010

Hello Mr. Bob
I am living in Oman, here Skype is not allowed, to make it work i use hotspot shield to connect,but the quality of voice is not good
Can u tell me how can i run skype easily.
how can i make skype run in oman gulf.
please answer

Posted by:

Todd C.
26 Aug 2010

I have had a Philips standalone wireless Skype phone since 2007 and in spite of a few idiosyncrasies, it is a great phone. With the service I ordered, I pay about $10 a month and can call landlines in something like 38 countries as much as I want for no additional charges, as well as cells in a few plus I have incoming phone numbers in three different countries (US, Korea and New Zealand). The beauty of the Philips phone is that I plug it right into the router and can stay in touch without turning on my computer.

Posted by:

26 Aug 2010

Last Christmas I purchased the OOMA tel system from Costco.com. Initial set up was easy and it has worked flawlessly with my Panasonic four handset house system. Instead of plugging into my computer, it plugs directly into my cable modem. After an initial cost roughly equivalent to 6 months telephone bills, I am no longer paying anything for local and national long-distance, and minimal amounts for international long distance. I can not recommend it highly enough.

Posted by:

Mike Sabol
26 Aug 2010

I've been using Magicjack for about a year now and it's working pretty good. I did a firmware update as soon as I got it, which probably helped it. I'm using a cheap vtech cordless phone with 3 phones on it. I found out that it's best to have it set up on a computer that your not doing a lot on. So I put it on the on of my less used network computer. It seems to help the reception. When I signed up, it was $19.99 a year, but you had the option to do $59.99 for 5 years, so I did that. It has some problems but it's cheap, so I think that it's worth it.

Posted by:

29 Aug 2010

I Have been using magicjack and the OOMA system, I have yet to have a problem with it. these VoIP phones are just getting better with time and technology. My phone bills have gone down tremendously it is definitely worth it.

Posted by:

31 Mar 2011

A great voip client that is running directly from browser is available from mizutech.

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