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Are VoIP Soft Phones any good
Some VoIP phones have a long way to go in order to surpass what we've become accustomed to
March 1, 2006
Peter Davis
I recently began using VoIP. More specifically I have a Nortel i2050 soft phone, which in this case is a combination of hardware and software. Overall I think the phone works well but the whole user experience is terrible with the software and I think much more could have been done.
Old Methods, New Wrapper
Anybody who's ever used a standard issue telephone in any corporation will know that thee menu systems on those phones aren't the most elegant things. The phone can only display 3 lines of text on the little LCD screen.

When I began using this new VoIP Soft Phone system I figured since this was new and improved that it would take advantage of the possibilities available with having the phone in Windows. I was dead wrong.

Antique Menu System
I can understand that some people have gotten so used to the old menu system on those old phones but why not give the option to have an extended Windows menu system. Instead the only option you have is a window with a 3 line "simulated" LCD window. In other words the functionality is exactly the same as the old phone.

I thought that instead of having this archaic setup which was limited by the phone in the old days, they would have a nice window with tabs where you could set all your options at once and hit OK. Instead everything is done is this stupid little window.

Possibilities
Ring Tones: With custom ring tones so popular these days why not allow people to use any audio file as a ring tone. Instead were stuck with the same rings since the 1970s.

Right-Click: they need more right-click functionality to make tasks easier. Need to update a speed dial button, just right click it. Want to add the last number that called to your Outlook contacts or speed dial, then right-click. The only thing the right-click does at this point is open the What's This context menu, real ingenuity here folks!

Tighter Outlook Integration: You can call contacts right from Outlook but that is something provided by Outlook itself. There could have been tighter integration so that if you receive an email from someone, you can right click on their name and call them.

These are just a few of the possibilities with soft phones. However, as I mentioned the most disappointing thing about these phones is the lack of easy menu navigation. They most likely went the route they did because many people are accustomed to the old phones but they should have at least considered having the option of using a new and improved menu system. Instead we have old technology wrapped up in a new interface with the exact same functionality in a less convenient form.

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