VoIP Calling Made Simple

One small USB device eliminates the need for multiple phones.
Magazine Contributor
2 min read

This story appears in the November 2008 issue of . Subscribe »

Skype is cool: You can make calls worldwide for anything from free to peanuts a minute. But having a specialized Skype phone sitting on your desk alongside your landline and cell is kind of a hassle. When the phone rings, whose unique answer button do you fumble to find?

CUPhonelets you simplify your desktop by getting rid of your special Skype phone, which is usually wired to your PC. The electronics inside this matchbox-size plug-in let you take both VoIP and PSTN calls with any old cordless phone you may have, making life a little more mobile.

You'll also be better able to exploit the universal inbox conveniences that Skype and other major VoIP/IM services offer. But Skype is the largest, and the CUPhone supports features like caller ID, speed dialing and those tied to the companion SkypeIn service. For example, you can establish "local" customer service numbers around the world at little cost.

Call quality can be fairly unpredictable sometimes, no matter the instrument or service you use. Complex interactions between different phones, PC resources, network loads or cell locations can make for good, bad and just plain ugly calls. CuPhone isn't dependent on your PC sound card and other resources. Inside its small package is hardware-based echo-cancelling technology, which not only eliminates echo, but also reduces the tinny quality some calls can have.

The gadget's drivers install in a snap off a CD-ROM and plop an inbox icon onto your desktop. That gets activated when you plug in the VoIP/PSTN phone cords, and it can be merged with your Skype inbox. The only problem is that CUPhone is a little light on documentation. Installation is straightforward, but I still like having my handheld--if only to remind me to tell Skype to use CUPhone. But at $34, it's worth a look.

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