Searching For VOIP Softphones

Remember while your office phone changed into a solidly constructed multi-line key machine with push buttons for the distinct extensions? And you had a secretary who could solve all your calls? It seems so quaint now, like something out of a Tracy/Hepburn movie like the “Desk Set.” (Which for those of you that haven’t visible it, functions a plot approximately a room-sized pc that replaces human people on the TV station. Amazingly, 50 years ago too.)

The largest alternate for workplace telephony nowadays is the setting apart of incoming and outgoing calling plans and how we are able to use computer systems in place of a real smartphone device. Maybe, if we all can get our softphones to paintings nicely.

I am now not speaking approximately some Claes Oldenburg sculpture, however, the software going for walks to the PC that permits you to make and receive calls. Softphones aren’t new – I remember writing about them in the early Nineteen Nineties. Sadly, the quality of software program development continues to be akin extra to this period than the modern day.

Voice over IP has made calling almost too cheap to meter, to bear in mind a word from the 1950s (then it turned into about nuclear power, and we realize what happened to that). That’s why many companies presently offer limitless month-to-month calling plans for his or her VOIP Service – Vonage ($25), Skype ($three), Google Voice (Free!). What is crucial to word is that these are all outgoing calling plans. Anyone can call you with none plan, you simply need a phone variety. Here is where matters get complicated.

I had been a happy purchaser of Vonage given that round 2002 or so, the usage of their smartphone provider in three different states and for both home and work. The first-class component approximately the usage of Vonage (or every other VOIP smartphone with an affordable function set) is that I can install what occurs while a person calls my quantity. Right now I have it ring each workplace and mobile numbers concurrently. This way I just need to provide you with one variety to name me, and I can alternate cellular numbers, or add a new region if I am working somewhere for a prolonged time period. The subsequent first-rate element approximately Vonage is that I can do all of this with simply more than one mouse clicks, without having to attend on keep for a Bell business office provider rep to attempt to upsell me with services that I do not want.

But I don’t genuinely get that many calls anymore, not that I am complaining. Most of the time after I am at the telephone it is to interview someone for an article I am writing or to concentrate on a convention name briefing. Those are calls that I provoke and I do not really need a physical phone anyway – I a whole lot choose to use a headset related to my computer, to unfastened my shoulder so I can type in my notes. (Yes, I ought to use a Bluetooth headset for my smartphone, too.)

I commenced wondering that perhaps I should eliminate my workplace telephone line, and switch it for a Vonage softphone, and perhaps shop a few cash inside the process. That led me to trying to find a softphone to be able to run on my Mac, connect with my Vonage account, and be reliable. Getting all 3 criteria have was A Project over the past week.

The softphone charges $10 a month. A name to Vonage customer service set up matters and moved my office quantity over to the softphone account. I notion I was doing well.

Alas, it wasn’t so smooth. First of all, while Vonage has its softphone app on each Windows and Mac, the Mac model is a negative cousin and I could not get it to paintings nicely. After spending some time with Vonage tech help, I found out that there are “troubles” with it running on Intel-based totally Macs (which can be all recent Macs for the beyond several years).

Vonage does have a softphone for the iPhone (and Blackberry too), however, you need to install some other $25 a month subscription plan. It clearly is designed to name internationally from your smartphone and save you on these fees. So it really isn’t always the softphone that I am searching out.

There are numerous softphone VOIP software program organizations, and a few actually have Mac clients. I have tried a few and attempted to get them configured for my Vonage account, however without an achievement. There is a lot of poor fine records online, and a lot of those are smaller groups without a tech assist.

What about Skype? Yes, Skype may be considered a softphone (and greater, because it does video calls too). The monthly unlimited calling plan is $three, however, you furthermore may want to purchase a web-wide variety for another $three a month in case you need human beings to call you. All of a sudden, my predicted savings are evaporating. I like Skype and feature used it for years, more often than not for the IM capabilities, and the voice excellent is notable.

How about MagicJack? This is a quite cool USB device that you may connect with each mac and Windows PCs, and it will set up a softphone (or you could use a normal telephone and wire it to the USB tool immediately). All for $40 for the primary yr, and $20 12 months thereafter. My one hassle with the Jack is that I preserve getting human beings calling me who are calling wrong numbers. Not sure what this is all approximately. I do get the occasional Skype from a person I do not recognize but any longer as regularly.

And then there are Google Voice and eVoice, a brand new carrier from J2 Communications, the humans which can be at the back of eFax and jFax. These are not quite softphones, however, do provide some exciting communications features to manipulate your telephony, and if I didn’t maintain my Vonage wide variety I would in all likelihood be extra inquisitive about them. Google has additionally purchased Gizmo Project, which had a sincerely first-rate softphone that came with a built-in voice recorder, so who is aware of what will take place to that.

Not having a traditional land-line smartphone may be an issue, I will admit. But it isn’t generally a problem. So as I transition to a telephone-free table, I suppose lower back to the days once I had one of the old Western Electric telephones. Maybe I should purchase one and just preserve it on my desk for antique time’s sake even as I maintain fooling around with my softphones and headsets.


Alcohol scholar. Bacon fan. Internetaholic. Beer geek. Thinker. Coffee advocate. Reader. Have a strong interest in consulting about teddy bears in Nigeria. Spent 2001-2004 promoting glue in Pensacola, FL. My current pet project is testing the market for salsa in Las Vegas, NV. In 2008 I was getting to know birdhouses worldwide. Spent 2002-2008 buying and selling easy-bake-ovens in Bethesda, MD. Spent 2002-2009 marketing country music in the financial sector.