By Lisa Johnston
New products on display at the American International Toy Fair, held in N
According to a recent study from the Dallas, Texas-based research firm Parks Associates, one-half of all Internet households are interested in VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) services, especially as a means to save on high monthly phone bills.
If CES is any indication, manufacturers are paying closer attention to the VoIP market as a means to offset the slow decline of traditional telephony products.
China-based Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) equipment manufacturer and service provider AICO Systems announced that it is taking aim at the United States retail market with four new VoIP phones and services under its TalkPro brand.
The new corded phones are plug-and-play and can offer VoIP calling to customers who have either dial-up or broadband Internet connections. There will be two lines of phones: the U series is USB-based, plugs into a computer and is for users with dial-up Internet access. It requires the computer to be on to make or receive calls. The U-120 and the U-130 will sell for a suggested $110.
The second series of phones plug directly into a broadband modem and doesn't require the computer to be on to send and receive calls. The R-130 will have a suggested retail price of $189.
All billing and account management is done online. Under its service plan, TalkPro users can make free calls to other TalkPro customers and follow a pre-paid scheme for all local and national calls.
Computer peripheral manufacturer BAFO Technologies (the U.S. subsidiary of Taiwan First Line Electronics) announced the debut of its Messenger Call Box (MCB) at the show, a device that lets computer users connect their regular landline phone to a computer to make VoIP calls through standard instant messenger programs. The USB device allows users to relay voice calls initiated through AOL, Yahoo!, MSN and ICQ instant messengers using a landline or cellular phone.
The plug-and-play Messenger Call Box connects via USB to the computer. Two standard RJ-11 ports then connect the MCB to any standard telephone (including cordless) and to the wall phone jack. As incoming voice instant messages are detected through the MCB software, they are relayed to the attached phone or forwarded to another phone number of the user's choice.
When started, the MCB software runs in the background and monitors IM activities in the foreground. When a voice call invitation comes in, the MCB will ring the connected telephone and connect the call. The MCB can be configured for call forwarding to send the call to any phone number designated by the user, including cellular phones. If the MCB is in answering machine mode, the MCB will record a voicemail message while the user is away.
The Messenger Call Box will ship in the second quarter, pricing has not been announced.
This TWICE webinar, hosted by senior editor Alan Wolf, will take a look at what may be the hottest CE products at retail that will be sold during the all-important fourth quarter. Top technologies, market strategies and industry trends will be discussed with industry analysts and executives.