Simple Flash memory sticks have become a commodity and have a hard time to get users excited. More recently manufacturers have been moving from plain storage to features such as extra fast to integrated USB sticks with integrated fingerprint readers and software packages that range from backup applications to full fledged operating systems.
So it should come as little surprise that VoIP provider has come up with an idea to actually put softphone VoIP software on a memory stick. You can use the 256 MB stick to plug into any computer, for example in your notebook on a road trip, and use your regular Vonage account to make phone calls.
The tool pretty much works just like Skype or similar services. The advantages of the Vonage services are slim, especially in a market where Skype is currently offering free PC-to-phone calling within North America. However, if you have to call frequently to other countries, the USB stick can make sense: For example, Vonage offers “free” calling to Italy, France, Spain, Ireland and the UK. Also, if Vonage is your default phone service at home, you always have your home phone with you and you can check caller history and your voicemail using the device.
The Vonage USB phone, officially called the V-phone, integrates a microphone/headphone jack (earpiece and mic are included as well) and resembles the functionality of the softphone service that is currently offered by the company as well. Interestingly, the V-phone’s softphone service is free, if you subscribe to one of Vonage’s service plans (starting at $15/month); the regular softphone service that can be ordered on the firm’s websites is priced at $10 per month.
A spokesperson told TG Daily that Vonage intends to phase out its softphone service.
While the $40 price tag of the V-phone is attractive, if you consider it as a “phone” (the softphone service can configure itself) but the simple fact that it is just an entry-level USB stick and some software tacked on makes it a rather expensive device. According to Vonage, 250 MB of the total 256 MB capacity of the stick are available for storage purposes. Before you can use the V-phone, you will have to pay a $9 activation fee, whether you already own a Vonage account or not.