I’ve been testing the newest Vonage phone and service which I think will be an ideal gift for both dads AND grads!

Let’s back up at tick, though.  Vonage is a broadband phone service, which I have been using and testing for a couple of years now, and with great success, I might add.  I use Vonage as an additional line here at Gadget Central for a wide range of calling duties – business and personal calls, as well as most long distance calling.  It saves me a bundle every month.  International calling is generated, for the most part, with my Vonage line, including a considerable amount of international long distance.  I’ve even set up relatives in other countries with Vonage service, giving them a local phone number in the US, and, as such, a lifeline that costs no more than basic monthly service for unlimited calling to and from the US.

It’s part of the VOIP (Voice Over Internet Protocol) movement that is increasing in popularity every day.  Using an existing broadband (DSL or Cable Modem) connection, Vonage (and the other companies who do what Vonage does) uses a device that ultimately connects with a phone in your hand to generate phone calls over the Internet instead of through your local phone company’s connection, for example in the wall, at a home or office.  It’s less expensive than the old way, offering unlimited calling for home users to the US, Canada and now to include Puerto Rico, for $24.99 per month.  Other, lower cost plans are available, as is one for business users.  International calling is also available and at rates that are less than I have seen from other carriers.  There is a device to purchase to which a standard or cordless phone can be connected.  With a cordless phone, especially a multi-handset 5.8 GHz setup, users can have handsets in strategic locations throughout the house, and the 5.8 GHz technology will not interfere with the wireless network, which operates on 2.4 GHz.  This is Vonage VOIP in a nutshell.  Now there is something new.

The new “something” is a Vonage-enabled Wi-Fi handset with all the technology built-in, so there is no need for an additional connected box.  In addition, the new Wi-Fi handset allows Vonage customers to use their Vonage account ANYWHERE there is unrestricted wireless Internet access, whether at home, at a workplace on a college campus or through ANY open Internet hotspot!  Now, Vonage is portable and more convenient than ever, and can also reduce the user’s cell phone bill.  All a user needs is the handset and an available wireless network.  The phone can store profiles for the most commonly used hotspots, too, so switching locations can be as easy as simply moving from one hotspot to the next!

The new under $100 Vonage Wi-Fi handset will be available to existing and new Vonage customers in October, so the gift recipient will need to wait only a short while before receiving and using it.

In my tests, it works as advertised and with a convenience not unlike that of a cell phone.  I just carry it in my shirt pocket while walking around the house.  Using it is similar to making calls on a cell phone.  Enter the number and press the button the send, another to end the call.  I’ve tested it while visiting a friend’s. As soon as I entered the house, the new handset immediately recognized that an open network was there, and it logged on after about 10 seconds.  From then on, I could make and take calls as if in my own home.

Setup was easy for unrestricted networks.  For protected networks, it takes a bit of configuration, setting it for access through that protection, the password and all, but once done, that’s it.  The Wi-Fi phone stores up to four such setups onboard, as well as handling the usual services, including three-way calling, call transfer, call waiting and more.

Who should use Vonage?  Anyone who wants to save money on a phone bill if if now includes calls beyond the free local area.  Anyone whose bill significantly exceeds $25 per month would do well to look into Vonage service.  HOWEVER, Vonage (or any of the others) is NOT for everyone.

One prerequisite is a nearly perfect and reliable broadband connection.  If the Internet connection is flaky and needs restarting constantly, then VOIP is NOT for you!  Some think of Vonage as a way to dump one’s phone company, and that may be possible for some users, especially those with nearly totally reliable cable modem service.  Vonage may be best as an additional line from which all but local calls are made or as an extra line for more than one person at home, or for any other more-than-one-phone-line scenario.

The new Vonage Wi-Fi handset does NOT feature e911 compatibility.  In other words, in an emergency, calling 911 will NOT result in help when calling from Vonage using this new Wi-Fi handset. This is because of its portability, the fact that the handset can be anywhere and connected, and is likely to be away from a single location. In any event, remember this important bit of info when signing up for the program.

Technology inside the phone is transparent to the user – I like that!  Mostly, it just works.  I like grabbing the phone from pocket or tabletop, and just using it.  Connectivity with the available wireless network is via standard 802.11b protocols.  Calling is the same as with any Vonage-connected phone – dial all 10 digits, “1” + area code + number for domestic and Canada calls.

All in all, I have enjoyed the new piece or equipment.  Battery life is very good, with up to four hours of talk time experienced on a charge from the supplied charger.

The handset itself is typical of many small cell phones in size and functionality.  Software in the phone seems a bit geeky and may appear intimidating to the average consumer.  The good news is that most consumers will not have to get very deep into the menus, and even if it becomes necessary to delve deep, tech support will walk the user through any needed steps in order to make this new handset connect to the network and operate.  By the time the product is available to the general public, Vonage representatives have told me these growing pains that we beta users are experiencing should be a thing of the past.  I’m not worried. Vonage has consistently come through on their commitments to me.

If this new Vonage Wi-Fi handset is not the thing for your dad or grad, then at least check into “regular” Vonage service.

More information is a click away or call 1-VONAGE-HELP (1-866-243-4357).

So, for dads and for grads that can use the portability this new Vonage phone offers, it’s well worth the wait.  I have to say it again . . . Vonage rocks!

Pin It on Pinterest