20 November 2010
I dug a little deeper into my stash and found some additional items to add to my for-sale list:
- Linksys WBP54G – Wireless Bridge for Linksys/Sipura Devices
- Linksys WIP300 (802.11g WiFi phone)
- Dock n Talk with Bluetooth Module and Cables
- A few ATAs from Zoom (standalone and with router)
I’ve also tested most of the gear to confirm it powers up, has a functional web interface, and has been reset to factory defaults. Only found one device that I couldn’t get into because it was provider-locked. It found a nice home in the round file.
The complete list is in my previous posting advertising the gear for sale. No reasonable offer refused.
From OBi110: Consumer VoIP is Getting Social | Cult of Mac:
Obihai Technology, a tiny Cupertino start-up, this month brought to market its first product, the OBi110 — an unassuming $70 box with blinky lights that may well prove to be the most disruptive telephony device to come along in a decade.
The OBi110 is the physical hub in a multi-layered communications model the company believes can revolutionize the way consumers use their mobile, Internet and fixed-line telephony services, bringing emerging social networking behaviors together with maturing Voice over IP (VoIP) technology to create total communication freedom at the personal level.
I own or have owned at least one of all three generations of products generated by Jan Fandrianto and his team: the Cisco ATA-186, various Sipura/Linksys units (including the SPA-3000, which I supported during the Voxilla days), and now the OBi110, the next generation in analog telephone devices.
While I haven’t played with the OBi110 as much as I’d like, it did not take me long to see this is a refinement of the ideas behind the SPA-3000, but it offers so much more.
One of the features of the SPA-3000 was the ability to dial in via a VoIP provider and “bridge” to a analog telephone line. You could also go the other way. While the OBi110 can do these things, you can also bridge to a different VoIP provider as well (i.e. the device supports two different Internet telephony service providers (ITSPs)).
The device provides a configurable auto-attendant, which can be configured to answer only for “trusted” endpoints (based on CallerID) and/or require a PIN to be entered. From there, calls can made via either the PSTN line or any of the VoIP services you’ve configured.
Perhaps the best feature of the OBi110 has little to do with the hardware itself but with the service that it includes. When you plug into the network, it registers with OBiTALK servers–with no configuration on the end user’s part. It works “out of the box.” The device has a unique telephone number assigned to it–it’s printed on the bottom of the device. Any customer with an OBi110 can call any other OBi110 using their OBiTALK number.
Aside from your OBi devices, you can also connect to OBtTALK via a VoIP client on your PC. Obihai provides the OBiAPP on Windows that acts as a sort of middleman between a traditional VoIP client (say Counterpath’s X-Lite) and the OBiTALK service. I believe the user experience would be better overall if they just released their own Windows (and Mac) VoIP client. This seems to be a rather convoluted setup. Obihai is producing their own VoIP client for iOS and Android devices soon.
OBiTALK also provides for a concept called a “Circle of Trust.” Essentially it makes it easier for a group of people to use each other’s devices to take advantage of landlines or whatever ITSPs each device has configured. For example, if I was part of a circle of trust with people in The Netherlands, I could make a VoIP call that goes out my friend’s PSTN line, or s/he could make a VoIP call that goes out my PSTN or VoIP line.
You can configure your circle of trust (and other trusted endpoints) from the OBiTALK site and it will configure your device for you. It also sets up speed dials for the different endpoints you have and are in your circle of trust. I actually wish you could configure more features from the OBiTALK site (say, the ITSPs you want to use) and have the device somewhat provisioned entirely from OBiTALK, further masking the complexity.
If you don’t trust Obihai, you can hand configure all of this yourself, of course, and the device can be configured however you’d like. If you’ve spent any time with the old Sipura devices, the web interface should look a bit familiar, but it has been improved also, making it real easy to see what settings are at their defaults as well as provide a way to reset the parameter to the default setting. Unfortunately, the settings in some cases are complicated. That is the nature of these devices, however. They provide a lot of power, but you have to know what you are doing to make it do exactly what you want.
All in all, if you’re a do-it-yourself kind of person and you want to more easily create your own mix of VoIP and PSTN services that works for you, the OBi110 is the device you want to look at. The team behind it as a history of making great products and evolving them as the market changes. You can buy the OBi110 Voice Service Bridge and Terminal Adapter from Amazon.com (affiliate link), but during the week of Thanksgiving, you’ll be able to buy two OBi110s through amazon.com shipped to the same address for $99.95!
15 November 2010
Over the years, I’ve accumulated far too many VoIP ATAs and other related gear. Now I’m getting rid of them. By now, most of this stuff isn’t supported. It may be almost entirely worthless. But I’d rather not throw it away. I’m sure it’s of value to someone. Thus I’m going to sell it here.
Here are my rules (updated 20 November 2010):
- If you’re not sure what the device is, ask Google first.
- Devices and power bricks are believed to be in working order. They were recently powered on, their web interface was accessed, and the device was factory reset.
- Unless noted, equipment will ship with only a power brick. The old Sipura devices may not contain a universal power brick (i.e. one that works outside North America).
- Equipment is AS-IS with whatever firmware is on the device now.
- I will not provide technical support for these devices. Google can help.
- Please email your offer (desired equipment and total price with shipping cost) to dwelch AT phoneboy DOT com. Nothing reasonable refused.
- Payments accepted via PayPal ONLY.
- Once payment has been received, orders will only ship to US Addresses via USPS with delivery confirmation.
Ready for the list? Here we go! I have one of each unless otherwise noted (Equipment list updated 21 November 2010). Crossed off items have been sold and are no longer available.
(Qty 4) (Qty 2)
- WBP54G – Wireless Bridge for Linksys/Sipura Devices
- WIP300 (802.11g WiFi phone)
Intertex (router with enhanced SIP/PBX support)
- IX-66 with 802.11b CF card (adds WiFi support)
- IX-67 which includes 802.11g support
Cisco ATA-186 with version 3.1.0 firmware
SIP CPE FX-200 (5v variety, does not come with a power brick)
- ZoomTel V3 Model 5577 (Cable/DSL Router with VoIP ATA, new in box)
- Zoom ATA Modem 5801 (New in box)
- ZoomTel X5v (DSL Modem with VoIP ATA)
Dock n’ Talk with the following:
28 February 2010
One of the things In Store Solutions sent it to me for review right around Christmas 2009 was the RTX Dualphone 3088. I’ve actually been (trying to) use it for the past couple of months and I’m now finally ready to write my thoughts down about it.
When I say “try to” use it, it’s not that the phone is hard to use. In fact, relatively speaking, it’s easy to use once it is set up.
The base unit plugs into your regular telephone jack and your router. This gives you the ability to use your regular phone line as well as Skype from the same handset. You can configure which one PSTN phone calls will use by default (and override on a per-call basis, if you’d like). You can browse your Skype buddy list, do buddy list management, and make direct calls to Skype users also. You can even change your Skype status, check inbound/outbound call history, your Skype voicemail, and see your SkypeOut balance!
At home, I have this set up both with my landline and my personal Skype account. Calls to my landline and calls to my Skype account are set up with different rings (yes, you can do that). I have used it both for Skype and for PSTN calls and the sound quality is excellent. The connection between the base and the handset is DECT, making it both secure and WiFi friendly.
Here’s the problem with this handset–I just don’t use them all that much. Nothing against the handset at all, but I either use my mobile phone to make calls or I use Skype with a headset. Yes, the phone has a headset jack and supports speakerphone, so I could use it, but it’s not something I have to work to make use of.
One thing the handset is missing that would make adopting it problematic is the fact it lacks a mute button. It is one feature I make heavy use of on Skype and my mobile phones and not having it makes using this phone difficult.
If you’re looking for a way to make calls on Skype without using a computer and tie into your normal landline, this is a great device. It does exactly what it says on the tin. The pricing, though, presents a challenge: $170 for the base unit and handset, another $100 each extra handset. At half the price, it would almost be a no-brainer.
20 February 2010
My inbox is bursting at the seams, it seems.
Skype and Verizon Wireless?: One of the surprises to come out of the recent Mobile World Congress show is that Verizon Wireless and Skype have signed an agreement that allows a specially designed Skype client to be available on several devices (Blackberries and Android phones). Om Malik uncovers some sources who say that this deal is exclusive for 2-3 years. What kills this for me is that all calls (either Skype-to-Skype or Skype to international number) are routed through the Verizon Wireless voice network, meaning no WiFi. Not to mention the fact that the Verizon Wireless 3G network doesn’t support voice and data. Meh.
Skype and the iPhone: Related to the above, Skype is planning on issuing a version of their iPhone app that will actually allow calling over the AT&T 3G network. Previously, Apple’s SDK forbid this practice, but this has recently been changed. The stated reason for the delay is that Skype wants to ensure the iPhone experience is tuned for an optimal experience. Skype isn’t tuning the software, if you ask me. I think they’re waiting for the next version of the iPhone OS to release, but that’s just my theory.
Restaurant Paging over SMS: The Recess Paging System is something that’s recently been brought to my attention. Instead of those annoyingly large restaurant pagers that they give you, just send an SMS to the patron when your table is ready. Clever idea, though any heavy user of SMS will tell you that it’s not always reliable. And, of course, there’s always the “it’s a great tool to spam market to your customers.”
Voxbone Provides SMS Support for iNum (+883) Numbers: One thing that makes virtual numbers more real is the ability to text message the number. I was real happy when Google added this feature to Google Voice (formerly GrandCentral) numbers. Voxbone is now providing this service to their “global” iNum numbers (which have an ITU-assigned country code of +883). I wish more carriers supported these global numbers–for calling and SMS–but the list keeps growing.
Fonolo Comes to iPhone: I got heads up several days ago that Fonolo was launching an iPhone app in the App Store. The application lets you search through the phone tree of many different companies toll free numbers. You can find exactly the right point in the phone tree and have Fonolo call you when it has navigated to that point. In short, you spend less time navigating the phone maze and more time dealing with the company you’re trying to deal with. It’s a free app and a free service.
Calliflower Adds Skype Support: I wish I had an opportunity to use Calliflower more than I do. While you could always use Skype to enter a Calliflower conference, albeit via a PSTN number, now you can dial the Skype user CalliflowerSkype and get into any Calliflower-hosted conference. It certainly makes it cheaper and easier to join a Calliflower-hosted conference. In theory, this should give you better voice quality as well, but when I tried dialing the CalliflowerSkype user from my Mac’s Skype client, I saw it was using G.729–the same codec as if I were using Skype to dial into the PSTN number.
30 January 2010
The folks at In Store Solutions sent me this headset to review a while ago–the Freetalk Wireless Headset. I had tried a couple of times to write a review of this headset, but ran into technical issues. Now that I’m off the road for a bit, I’ll give it a try.
Like its wired cousin, the Freetalk Everyman Headset, which I reviewed a while back, the focus is on audio quality. It rocks, even without wires! Skype-to-Skype audio quality is just like being there! It’s light and comfortable to boot.
Unlike it’s cheaper cousin, the Freetalk Wireless headset actually has buttons on it: a power/mute button, volume control, and a link button to link the headset with the dongle. Yes, all these buttons work properly on the Mac as well as the PC.
The dongle for this headset is a little bulky, but it provides a USB jack to allow you to charge the Everyman Wireless headset directly. It also allows you to use the headset in a “wired” way when the headset needs charging, which is a problem I’ve run into with this headset. I often find the headset without battery. Maybe because I use it too much
The power button doubles as a mute button, if you press it briefly. The green power light blinks blue when the headset is muted. It would have been nice if the headset provided some audio confirmation that the headset was muted so it could be reliably used, but I generally just mute inside the Skype app instead so I know I am muted.
While this headset is clearly geared at Skype (or other desktop VoIP usage), you can also use the headset to listen to music. Just like with Skype, the music sounds great!
Unlike the Freetalk Everyman Headset, which is priced absurdly inexpensively, the Everyman Wireless is more pricey but still respectable at $79.99 from the Skype store (prices vary outside the US). It comes with the dongle, a mini-USB cable, the headset, and the carrying case, as shown in the picture above. People looking for great audio quality without wires should seriously consider picking one of these headsets up.
21 January 2010
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Time to clean out the inbox once again…
Truphone Bonanza: I have a fair number of items related to Truphone in my inbox. A while ago, they launched an Android calling app for WiFi, making it possible to use their service to make cheap phone calls from Android phones. More recently, they launched their Truphone Anywhere service, which gives you a SIM card that gives you “local” rates in US and the UK and cheaper roaming abroad. It could, theoretically, be your ONLY GSM calling service–calls inside the US are $0.10 a minute inbound and outbound–but data is not exactly cheap at $0.75/MB. It’s a nice prepaid service I will be keeping an eye on. I’m always looking for a way to be reachable when I travel abroad, but don’t want to pay an arm and a leg to do it Oh yeah, and now you can make and receive calls from +883 (iNum) calls thanks to a partnership with Voxbone!
Skype for Symbian Beta: I’ve actually been using this a fair amount of my Nokia E71, especially when I was in Israel several days ago. It was the only way I was able to make calls back home without it costing an arm and a leg. The application is very laggy in terms of startup and shutdown, but the calls were crystal clear! Hopefully, they improve the speed of this app, as it’s my only real complaint. Well that and it does not pass touchtones at all.
CTIA Is Against Network Neutrality for Wireless: From the “no duh” department, my friends at the CTIA–the industry association for the wireless industry in the US–are against net neutrality principles (PDF link) as proposed by the FCC via their Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on the subject. Seems like a rehash of their usual points (i.e. wireless is different, a competitive market, and the operators are doing nothing wrong). *sigh*
Trapster goes 4.0 on iPhone: The new version of this free speed-trap reporting program for the iPhone and a number of other phones gives you more “trap” types (including roadkill, yum!), shows you were Trapster users have driven recently (to give you confidence in the reported traps), a Caravan mode where you can message and share photos with other Trapster users, and the ability to share Trapster with your iPhone contacts. Wonder what these guys will do next?