Read these 13 VoIP Accessories Tips tips to make your life smarter, better, faster and wiser. Each tip is approved by our Editors and created by expert writers so great we call them Gurus. LifeTips is the place to go when you need to know about VOIP tips and hundreds of other topics.
You have to call it an accessory, since you CAN make calls without it. But one of the most popular new VOIP accessories available for Residential VOIP networks is a VOIP-enabled phone. While you can use standard phones with most commercial Residential VOIP services and a special adaptor, VOIP phones plug directly into your computer through a USB connection. You can use these phones with compatible computer-based Residential VOIP service, like Skype, or even Google Talk or MSN or AOL Instant Messenger. Worth it? Depends on how much you use the service like a regular phone. If more than one person uses the VOIP service, it might make sense. Otherwise, you're probably better off with a headset.
One reason businesses want PBX services is to allow conference calling between different locations across the network. But if your network includes either people calling from the road via your IP PBX network, or people gathering in a conference room from a remote location, you're going to need the proper accessories to make these conference calls work. Meanwhile, you'll want a conference speakerphone to allow everyone in your conference room to speak and be heard.
You definitely do not need to have a special VOIP Phone with your home VOIP service. Virtually all residential VOIP services allow standard phones to be used with special adapters. However, you can purchase a VOIP phone for under $100, avoid using a special adapter, and take advantage of Internet-only phone services, like video calling.
One unavoidable cost of converting to over to a VOIP phone system -- especially a PBX phone system -- is the cost of hardware. You'll need to have a data network extended to every desktop. And you'll need to have PBX-capable phones that are also VOIP-friendly. Often, you can use your current phones with special adapters. But if you have to lay out cash for new VOIP phones in advance, start-up costs can grow in a hurry. One way to ease these costs is to look for a provider that offers either free, or deeply discounted, phones with a new service contract.
The market for VOIP Accessories continues to grow. The number of cell phones and portable devices with integrated WiFi has so far been limited. But advances in technology keep accelerating and truly portable WiFi devices are starting to come to market -- the Microsoft Zune music player, set to debut this Christmas season with WiFi, is a good example. And wherever there's WifFi, VOIP and VOIP Accessories sure to follow.So if you don't see a convenient VOIP calling device for you at the moment, it should be arriving soon.
Here's the VOIP Accessory for the gadget lover in your house: The Sony VAIO VOIP Mouse. What makes it so special? It's an optical mouse, a VOIP handset and a speaker phone in one. Pick it up to make a call; put it down again to use it like a speaker. Like many new gadgets, however, it doesn't come cheap. Expect to pay at least $100 for it online.
Speaker phones bridge the gap between VOIP phones and headsets. This is the VOIP accessory for you if you're going to want to have multiple people speak and listen to VOIP calls through your computer. Prices range from about $20 to more than $150 for VOIP speaker phones. You can expect a corresponding range in voice quality -- it gets much better on the more expensive models.
If you want your household to have access to your computer-based Residential VOIP, a VOIP phone is probably the answer. But if it's just you using the connection while sitting at -- or standing near -- your computer, you're probably better off with a headset. The Bluetooth-enabled headset is one of the more popular VOIP accessories. The Bluetooth headset works in two parts: a USB/Bluetooth connector and a wireless headset. You can wear the headset and communicate through your computer-based VOIP service, even while standing up to 30-feet away from the computer.
So you want to try VOIP, but you don't want to mess around with a home computer network. Can you do it? Easy, if you have an adaptor, which is a VOIP accessory that allows you to create a network bridge between your phone and your Internet service. You can plug the adaptor into your cable or DSL modem and you'll be ready to go. Adaptors aren't super cheap if you have to buy one yourself -- expect to pay $50 or $60. But many VOIP services will give you one for free when you sign up for service.
If you have a Treo or other Palm device, especially one with a Bluetooth or WiFi connection, you've probably thought 'Why can't I make VOIP calls with this?' After all, VOIP is just another Internet application, right? Now it can happen, thanks to a brand-new addition to the VOIP accessory world from Hampton Software. The software is called Articulation, and it supposedly works with any Palm OS 5.x and above. You'll need an Internet connection and a VOIP provider. But everything else is taken care of, according to the company. This is brand-new software, so you might want to wait until a few reviews come in before going out to buy it. But it sounds very promising.
Of course, you don't need to spend hundreds of dollars on a video phone to add video to your VOIP phone calls. Consider a simple PC web cam for your VOIP accessory of choice. You can purchase an inexpensive model for under $20. Use it easily with any computer-based VOIP system like Skype, Google, Microsoft or Yahoo. Just make sure the people you want to see and speak to have a web cam and are on the same network as you.
Remember that VOIP is simply another Internet application, like email or web browsing. So the only thing stopping you from conducting video, as well as audio, Internet messaging is having a video phone. So put this on your list of VOIP accessories you can't live without: A VOIP enabled videophone. It comes with a high-definition screen and a built-in camera. Of course, the other person you connect with will need one, too. These don't come cheap, either. Expect to pay over $500 for each phone.
A new addition to the growing world of VOIP Accessories is the VOIP-enabled keyboard. Expect to see these coming in fall 2006, from PC accessories giant Logitech. These keyboards will be Skype-specific in Europe and optimized for Yahoo and AOL in the US. The keyboard will include dedicated buttons for making and ending calls, as well as speed-dialing. Expect to pay well over $100 online for one.