Fast VoIP Softphones Vs "Real" or "Hard" Phones

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In keeping with the demands of today's world where people carry a variety of devices and work from multiple locations, VoIP allows users to place calls from any compatible device. You can talk using a regular handset, a computer, a smartphone and even a tablet. From a technological point of view there's not much difference between what VoIP professionals call a "soft" phone and a corresponding "hard" phone. But consumers who're used to making calls on landlines or on their office lines find the distinction a useful one.

A "hard" phone is a device which is specifically meant for making calls - like a landline. Or rather a device which has a dialpad, a receiver and externally looks just like a normal telephone. A VoIP phone however is actually a mini computer with specialized hardware. It has an operating system, can receive updates and can be programmed in accordance with the type of system it runs. It provides customers with VoIP specific functionality such as voicemails, extension dialing, call recording, conferencing facilitators and so on.

A "soft" phone on the other hand is a device which has software specifically installed on it which allows it to make VoIP calls. That is, voice calling isn't its sole functionality. A computer with Skype installed is a soft phone for example. A smartphone which has VoIP software is also a soft phone though the distinction is somewhat blurred here because people can also use it as a dedicated calling device.

When a business switches over to VoIP, it has to decide whether it wants to replace its landlines with VoIP enabled phones or not. Many firms like call centers find it more effective to let their employees use computers as their VoIP systems - in other words, use softphones. This is because most of their work is on the computer anyway and a single device allowing the user to wear a headset is more convenient than holding a phone receiver between their head and shoulder.

But for casual use there's no doubt that a regular phone helps and for this reason businesses can choose to replace their PSTN phones with dedicated VoIP "hard" phones. Many users will carry smartphones as well and these individuals can download the specific VoIP software which works with their ITSP to convert their smartphones into soft VoIP phones without any investment.

One can imagine a time when everyone carries their own smartphone and the need for dedicated VoIP phones will go down. Perhaps that won't happen because a regular phone does have certain advantages. In any case, there are specific usage scenarios for both these devices and it's a businesses discretion to decide which one they want to go with.

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