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Freshtel Holdings 2070 Internet Phone Handset
- Low cost, ideal for travelling, contact list is attached to the Freshtel account
- Sound quality could be better, it's not cordless
The Freshtel 2070 is an entry-level phone that should satisfy those after a cheap introduction to the world of VoIP.
Price$ 49.95 (AUD)
The Freshtel 2070 Internet Phone is a USB device that can be used to make VoIP phone calls using the Freshtel service. It's not a cordless VoIP phone, so it can't be used away from a computer.
Its a very simple handset, comprised of a monochrome display, a keypad and a few controls. Finished in dark grey plastic, it connects to a PC via a standard USB connection and the cord is long enough so that you can sit a couple of metres away from the PC. The phone is fairly compact, so it can easily be thrown into a laptop bag for those of you who have access to mobile broadband. The 2070 is powered via the USB connection on a PC, so it doesn't need any batteries, nor does it need to be recharged. The generously sized monochrome display provides date and time information, and the phone can save 1999 incoming and dialled numbers. The 2070 also features echo-cancellation and a USB power LED indicator in the top-right hand corner of the handset.
Setting up the phone is a fairly simple process; all you need to do is simply plug the phone into a spare USB port and let Windows perform the installation itself. You will then need to sign up for a Freshtel account, and download the Freshtel Firefly software, which is free off the Freshtel website.
The 2070 is as easy to use as a normal telephone; it has four menu keys, answer/end call buttons, a clear button and a regular telephone keypad. The buttons themselves are raised and are made of rubber, so they're easy to press. Unfortunately, the phone doesn't have any volume controls, so you'll have to look to the software to make adjustments. During calls, we found its audio quality to be satisfactory, but the volume at its highest setting wasn't as loud as we would have liked.
The Freshtel service works in the same way as a regular landline, with the exception that the PC and a broadband Internet service must be running to both make and receive VoIP calls. There are a range of plans available and more details can be found here: https://www.freshtel.net/firefly/signup/?reset=true
Tests were conducted using our high-speed Internet connection, and they showed the Freshtel's in-call quality to be a mixed bag. We didn't expect much considering the unit's price tag, but we were able to hold a conversation without too much fuss. Most of the people we called complained of a slight delay and echo on their end, while we experienced a bit of distortion and hissing at our end. However, these issues didn't really stop us from having clear, intelligible conversations. The main point worth noting is that the quality of VoIP conversations and the reliability of the Freshtel service, will depend largely on the speed and reliability of your Internet connection.
The Firefly software is pretty easy to use, as the interface resembles the shape, look and feel of a mobile phone. There is a keypad (although it's easier to use the number pad on your keyboard), two selection buttons answer/end call keys as well as volume and microphone sliders. Dialling a phone number is as simple entering it and then pressing the green call button. The Firefly software also features a contact list, similar to a phonebook on a mobile phone. Conveniently, your contact list always stays with you, even if you change PC's, as contacts are linked to your Freshtel account. The contact list looks very simular to the Windows Live Messenger interface, as users can create groups and hide contacts that are offline.
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