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Net2Phone CommCenter 1.1.2 review:

Net2Phone CommCenter 1.1.2

  • 1
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The Good Decent rates; pay-as-you-go accounts available; account doubles as a phone card.

The Bad Long voice lag; launches IE for Web access no matter what your default browser is; quirky setup; banner advertising in dialing applet; pop-up ads.

The Bottom Line Net2Phone is inexpensive and usable in a pinch, but its banner ads, pop-up windows, and long voice lag should steer you to Dialpad instead.

Visit manufacturer site for details.

CNET Editors' Rating

6.0 Overall
  • Setup 6.0
  • Features 6.0
  • Support 5.0

Review Sections

Net2Phone's PC-to-phone service, which uses your PC, a headset, and your Internet connection to connect phone calls using VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) offers better sound quality than competitor Dialpad; plus, its and rates are competitive with 1-800 services and your account doubles as a calling card. Unfortunately, Net2Phone's long voice lag, hardwired integration with Internet Explorer, annoying banner ads, and pop-up windows quickly soured us on the service. Installing Net2Phone is simple enough--for Internet Explorer users. Surf to the company's Web site, download and run a 2MB file, go through the automated setup and audio settings wizard, and you're good to go. Mozilla, Netscape, and Opera users, however, may have more difficulty and will have to download a different installation file, which must be saved, then run manually. To activate your account, you'll have to revisit the Web site, fill in some personal information, and provide a means of payment, that is, credit card or bank wire transfer. Our only complaint about the registration procedure is that for some reason, you aren't allowed to begin your password with a number. Once you have a positive balance, you can start making phone calls.



Functional, but neither as slick nor as benevolent as Dialpad's app,
the Net2Phone CommCenter bombards you with banner ads and pop-ups.


Net2Phone has fully integrated its CommCenter phone-dialing app with Internet Explorer. This means you can't use another browser--say, one with the ability to suppress the pop-up ads that Net2Phone regularly invokes. There's also an irritating banner ad at the top of CommCenter that displays third-party pitches. Since you're already paying for the phone calls, there's no excuse for the company bombarding you with advertising. Dialpad on the other hand, is pop-up free and displays only the occasional pitch from the company itself. As with Dialpad, Net2Phone can't import a local address book, but you can keep a list of contacts at the company's Web site.

If you can get past the schlock advertising, CommCenter is efficient, if not as slick-looking as Dialpad's dialer app. It both lets you dial and control the speaker and microphone levels and keeps a list of phone numbers you've dialed, provides access to your Net2Phone account, and offers handy links to the Smartpages yellow page listings. We found PC-to-phone calls using a DSL connection and Net2Phone frustrating. Net2Phone's voice quality is more than acceptable, but the voice latency, or lag between speaking and being heard, is not. As with iConnectHere, the lag forces callers to step on each other's words and hesitate before speaking. Competitor Dialpad offers less voice clarity than Net2Phone, but its much shorter lag makes it easier to hold a conversation.

If you're willing to bite the bullet on voice latency, Net2Phone's PC-to-phone service offers decent rates that are on a par with Dialpad's, calling cards, and 1-800 long-distance service. Domestic long distance is 2 cents a minute, and a sampling of international long distance rates includes 4.9 cents per minute to the U.K., 7 cents to Mexico City, and 6 cents a minute to Moscow. And unlike Dialpad, which sells its calling card service separately with higher per-minute charges, Net2Phone lets you use the same account as a calling card for the same low rates. There's also a handy free feature that lets you register up to five numbers from which you can make long-distance calls. When Net2Phone recognizes one of these numbers, it bypasses the PIN entry process. Net2Phone also allows incoming calls to your PC from other Net2Phone users--a feature Dialpad doesn't offer. Net2Phone doesn't offer telephone tech support, but its online help is copious and covers most of the common questions you're likely to have. There's also a form that lets you send e-mail to tech support, but unfortunately, our question about how to turn off banner advertising (you can't) had yet to be answered at press time. (We waited about a week.)



No phone support and no answer to our questioning e-mail messages.

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