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Vonage V-phone hits UK streets

It's mobile and, technically, it's a phone

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It's a phone on a USB stick, it looks just like any USB memory stick, and it has (at last!) shipped into the UK. It's the Vonage V-phone.

Several people have tried to get excited about it, without really managing. They all approve of the low price - £19.99 in the UK, and they all agree it works.

Where Vonage raves in its product description about "the world's smallest phone" and "most portable telephone landline,", outside reviewers have responded "Ho hum".

"No larger than a pack of gum, its plug and play ease and the ability to use the device at any PC anywhere in the world makes the V-Phone ideal for travellers, businessmen, students, or anyone on the go," boasts the company.

Gizmodo, however, was restrained: "It doesn't sound as good as POTS (plain old telephone system) but since we've gotten used to cellphones that sound like 9s7f4m NES sound effects, the V-Phone gets the job done," reported the writer, after testing it. "The included headphones resemble the earbuds packaged with the iPod and the mic work well enough for what it's tasked to do."

Users report that if you already have a Vonage account for Voice over Internet or VoIP use, you can configure this to use your existing account.

There was some enthusiasm for this from frequent travellers, because it means they can use their normal home number when receiving calls, worldwide.

Here's the official line from Vonage UK managing director Kerry Ritz:

As Vonage strives to enhance and facilitate the communication experience between individuals, we are very pleased to be offering our V-phone in the UK. Our new 'Plug and Go' portable telephone has been designed to offer consumers a flexible, convenient, easy-to-use telephone experience no matter where they are in the world.

One of the best features of the V-Phone is that customers are not limited to a particular PC or location to make or receive calls, they can now truly carry their landline in their pocket. For this reason and many more we believe the V-Phone is certainly one of the most innovative ways of providing a communication service and represents the next step in the evolution of communication.

Details on the UK website.

But there is no sign of any good news for Mac or Linux users. You still need a Microsoft PC. And ,of course, being a SIP-based service it's not free: it costs £7.99 a month. So you might like to try experimenting with loading your Skype details into the V-phone's 250 meg memory chip...

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