Phone.com: Your Virtual Phone Company - Page 3

By Gerry Blackwell
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Slick Interface
The Phone.com Web browser interface --that you use to manage extensions, numbers, menus, greetings, queues, etc. -- is attractive and quite intuitive.

The logic is also very consistent from one function to the next, with the same dialogs used in different situations. If you’re creating a schedule for an individual extension or for one of your Phone.com numbers, for example, the interface is exactly the same.

The call-handling rules dialog remains the same whether you’re setting up an extension, phone number or auto attendant menu item. You select a radio button to tell Phone.com to treat all calls the same or to use a schedule (and click the My Schedule link to choose or create a schedule), then select the action to take from a pull-down list.

Forwarding a call is only one option. Others include Leave Voicemail, GoTo Menu, GoTo Queue, DialByName, Receive Fax and so on. To forward calls to a number or extension, type the number into the space provided. If you want it to ring several numbers, click Add Another Number and repeat the process.

Browser screen shot
The Phone.com online browser lets you manage extensions, numbers, menus, greetings and queues, and it provides access to call logs and voicemail.
(Click for larger image)

You don’t need to be terribly technical to configure or use Phone.com. It took us less than an hour to learn it and set up a two-extension system with simple rules, an auto attendant menu and voicemail greetings. Once you get the hang of the interface and the logic, adding extensions and more sophisticated rules and schedules is very easy and quick to do.

One feature we liked: you can create greetings by recording them on your computer, although you can also record them over the phone by calling a Phone.com number. Using a USB computer headset and the Voice Recorder applet in Windows, we recorded greetings with audio quality markedly superior to anything over a phone connection.

The Downsides
While sound and connection quality on calls forwarded by Phone.com were generally very clear with good volume – there were some very occasional break-ups and clipping. This is presumably due to the VoIP network Phone.com uses to forward calls.

The pricing may also mislead some people. Keep in mind that the phenomenally low $9.88 price includes only 300 free minutes a month – an average of ten minutes per a day. It’s a rare business for which that would be enough.

To get 1,000 free minutes, you pay $34.88 a month. Additional minutes in North America cost 3.5 to 4.9 cents, which is more than you’ll pay with most conventional phone companies.

Other than those two small reservations, we highly recommend it.

Based in London, Canada, Gerry Blackwell has been writing about information technology and telecommunications for a variety of print and online publications since the 1980s.

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This article was originally published on February 28, 2008
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