Freshtel 2070 Internet Telephone review: Freshtel 2070 Internet Telephone

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The Good Provides a simple and familiar interface for VoIP calls. Very portable. Simple installation. Includes $10 worth of call credit. Works with other clients.

The Bad Somewhat pedestrian looking phone.

The Bottom Line Freshtel's 2070 Internet Telephone is a basic but entirely usable VoIP telephone with good audio quality and simple installation.

7.0 Overall

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Describing the Freshtel 2070 Internet Telephone is simplicity itself. Take just about any cordless phone of the last ten years and whack a flexible USB cord on one end -- and that's the 2070 in a nutshell. There is one minor difference with the 2070 handset, as it's designed for VoIP calls (and specifically for Freshtel's Firefly client application), and that's the navigation and In/Out buttons at the very top of the standard dialling buttons. When connected to a PC running the Firefly client, they'll scroll through your contacts list for simple dialling, in much the same way as the Linksys CIT200 Skype Phone.

The 2070's LCD display is quite simple; it provides local time and date information at the top, along with a single line of calling information while you're in-call. The lengthy cable on the 2070 measures over a metre unextended, and there's a small section of flex coil in the middle, so it's possible to extend it a bit further again if you're the type who likes to wander while you talk. About our only criticism of the 2070 phone would be that it's a very pedestrian looking phone; if you're after something to wow people with, this isn't the model for you.

Installation of the 2070 is driverless under Windows XP, as it's simply a matter of plugging the phone into any spare USB port. Freshtel's Firefly software is included on a pack-in CD, along with a AU$10 voucher for use with the service, which can be redeemed either as an existing user or when you're first setting up your Freshtel account (for more on Freshtel's VoIP service, check out our review here). The Firefly client software requires Windows 98SE or better, a 400MHz processor and 128MB of memory, along with a broadband Internet connection. That's all very low-key by today's system standards, so essentially it's usable by just about every PC user. Macs and Linux are not explicitly supported, and for what it's worth we didn't test the phone on either platform.

As with the rest of the Freshtel VoIP hardware range (which includes the 1040 headset, 4030 USB Stick Phone and 3010 ATA), we tested the 2070 with a variety of local, mobile and international calls. Once again, it's rather hard to accurately point fingers at a call which involves the PSTN (or mobile) networks plus an ISP plus a VoIP provider, but in our testing we found Freshtel's voice quality to be no worse (or better) than any other VoIP provider we've tested with. Audio from the 2070 was nice and clear, and as with most actual phones, you get a good microphone pickup simply because you naturally place it close to your mouth while calling. If you're using the Firefly client on a connected PC, you'll need to keep in mind that any non-Firefly numbers you dial will need to be prefixed with the star key to ensure connection.

Given that a number of handsets (including the aforementioned Linksys CIT200) are locked to a specific provider, we were curious to see if the 2070 Internet Phone would work with other softphone options. Testing with Skype gave mixed results; while it will work for calls, you lose the menu options of the top keys, which rather removes the point of having a telephone interface to begin with -- undoubtedly it'd work in a pinch, but we'd suggest multi-softphone users to look elsewhere, such as at the 4030 Stick Phone.

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