Intel has announced a PCI VoIP card that lets you plug a phone into the back of your PC and dial calls via Skype or other VoIP software. But is it a better choice than a dedicated analogue telephone adaptor? Some of Intel's marketing hype for the product leaves a lot to be desired.
Intel has announced a PCI VoIP card that allows you to use a standard analogue phone handset to make and dial VoIP calls on your PC.
The card, called Intel 600SM PCI Phone Adapter, allows you to dial on your regular phone handset but have your call connected via a VoIP provider such as local company Engin, as well as overseas providers Skype, Packet8 and Yak.
As long as you're prepared to keep your PC switched on at all times in order to make calls, you could save the cost of the Analogue Telephone Adaptor (ATA) that normally sits between your phone handset and a broadband router.
However, Intel's marketing hype leaves a bit to be desired: the chip giant claims that: "users no longer need to be tethered to their PCs to access VoIP services or be required to purchase additional hardware or software or have technical knowledge to set up and run VoIP."
Translation: "as long as you buy our card and software, you can avoid buying someone else's analogue telephone adaptor. And you can be 'untethered' from your PC as long as you have a cordless phone; otherwise you'll still be sitting about 1.25m from your PC, or as long as your phone cord will allow."
Nonetheless it's an interesting innovation in PC design, especially for small businesses that may have multiple PCs but don't have the capability or budget to add multiple phone extensions.
For now, the card is only available to system-builders as part of an Intel motherboard package, and is not available for separate purchase.
For its part, the payoff for Intel is giving people another good reason to upgrade to a dual-core CPU. "VoIP subscribers [...] can benefit from the increased performance of Intel dual-core technology in PCs," the company said in a press release.
"Intel dual-core platforms are uniquely suited to handle the performance demands of VoIP applications by improving system responsiveness during VoIP calls while preserving good call quality."
Translation? If you're running an Intel single-core CPU your calls migh...get...cho...py. In which case, perhaps you should consider an ATA anyway, which is a dedicated VoIP device that doesn't have to share system resources.