What is it: USB Phone Model: PU-1000 Supplier: Eksitdata Cost: £36.34 (€51.74) Availability: Now Verdict: Good concept, let down by poor implementation.
Voice over IP (VoIP); to most, the concept of using the existing Internet infrastructure to carry voice. In its raw sense, using custom telephony hardware to encode Voice calls and transmit them via standard TCP/IP over a network.
VoIP has been integrated into many applications such as MSN over the recent years, however they have been marred somewhat by the fact that you both have to have compatible software and also need to use a cumbersome headset to talk. Whilst this may be fine for people playing games, being able to pick up a handset and just chat isn't quite as easy.
The USB Phone from Eksitdata aims to bring standard telephony practice to your PC by appearing and acting more like a phone. You hold it like a phone, use it like a phone and the keypad will act much like a phone. At least that's the idea.
Included in the box was very little; the phone itself, a long USB Cable and a CD-R. This was a little unnerving because I'm generally used to getting a printed CD at least, if not a printed manual.
I had hoped that the device would be cordless. Now maybe that's just me being spoilt, I'm used to cordless phones; I like to wander about and make calls. Unfortunately not in this case, however cordless would push the price up unreasonably so we're limited to having a cord on this. Not so much of a problem if you're at your desk and you can get a few feet away with the supplied coiled cord, bearing in mind that USB isn't anchored, so get too far and you'll find yourself cut off.
The phone itself is modelled on an average mobile phone, in silver and black, no display is sported however. Apart from the buttons we'll look at in a second, the phone is brandless and only has an ambiguous model number on the rear sticker.
In terms of size, it's not that much bigger than a normal sized mobile phone. The Nokia 6310i (which I just happen to have) is slightly thinner, but is taller. In comparison, they're roughly the same size which makes it quite comfortable to hold.
As already stated, there is no integrated display so the large smoked area at the top is just space for the speaker, whilst the buttons and Microphone are where you'd expect to find them. There is one LED which signifies you're plugged in and it's getting power.
Like most USB devices you need to install the software before you start and you're reminded of this by a big sticker on the base. The USB connector on the base isn't a B-End or Microconnector as you'd expect, it's A to A so you have little choice but to use the supplied cable.