Easy. You plug your thumb-size Internet phone into the computer, put on an innocent-looking headset and dial away. That’s the concept behind the V-Phone from Vonage, a flash drive enhanced with just enough extra hardware and software to turn it into an Internet phone that works with Vonage’s broadband phone plans.
To use the phone, you just plug it into the USB port of a Windows computer with a high-speed Internet connection and plug the included headset with a microphone into a small jack on the unit. Once the software starts up you can make and receive calls, check voice mail, manage your speed-dial list, check Caller ID records and perform other tasks. The V-Phone also serves as a standard flash memory drive and comes with 250 megabytes of available storage. The Vonage software is automatically updated as needed. The phone works fine when your computer is connected to the Internet wirelessly via a Wi-Fi hot spot.
Your telephone number travels with you as you use the V-Phone in different locations. In other words, you’ll still have your local area code and number even if you use the V-Phone in a distant city. You can have calls forwarded to another number if they come in when you’re not connected. Note that since the unit is meant for mobile use it is not compatible with enhanced 911 emergency services. All 911 calls will go to a Vonage emergency center, which will contact local authorities.
The V-Phone was introduced at a June 28 press event at the observation deck atop the 30 Rockefeller Center building in New York.
The V-Phone will sell for $39.99 plus a $9 activation fee but will often be discounted with rebates, said a Vonage representative. Vonage’s domestic plans include the US, Canada and Puerto Rico. The $14.99 residential plan includes 500 monthly minutes, the $24.99 residential plan offers unlimited calling, the $34.99 business plan comes with 1500 minutes and a fax line and the $49.99 business plan offers unlimited calling and a fax line.
So… Would you actually use this thing? Let me know.
Top photo courtesy of Vonage
Bottom photo © Copyright 2006 Stadium Circle Features