You might have seen the adverts on the TV – Tesco voice-over man explaining to Britain how this thing works, in a way that doesn’t scare off Mrs Brindle from Bridgeport. As often happens with technology, the breakthrough has been made by someone else, and now the supermarkets are getting in on the act.
The Tesco Internet Phone (notice the lack of reference to VoiP) is being sold off the shelves in the supermarket, either as a pair of handsets for £30, or singularly for £20. In the pack you get a CD, an installation guide, the phone with the USB plug and a voucher for £5 worth of call credit.
Setting up is relatively simple, with lots of friendly bubble writing directing you what to do. Within the set up it assigns you a phone number, which you choose according to your local area code. This is free of charge, and is instead of a username that you might use on a service such as Skype. The main advantage is that you can now receive calls from landlines.
Another advantage over competitors is the free voicemail that is automatically activated on registration – this should sooth the worried brows of anyone who isn’t used to keeping their computer on, and is worried about missing calls.
Whilst it is a trimmed down service, it’s not completely free of options – you can choose an MP3 track to have as hold music, change your status (set according to a traffic light) and change ringtones. However, if you’ve previously used an alternative, you’ll probably miss the bells and whistles such as IM.
As far as costs are concerned, the advert is slightly misleading. It implies that the calls are only free between people that both have Tesco Internet Phone. In fact, you can call anyone with VoiP as long as they have a number. And if they don’t, call them anyway – the handset works just fine if you dial out from your computer using Skype.
Aside from VoiP, you’ll pay 2 pence/minute to landlines, both in the UK, and their ‘Top 25 countries’ (versus 1 pence on Skype and up to 16 pence peak on BT). Calls to mobiles will cost 10 pence/minute – this is 10 pence cheaper than Skype and 5 pence cheaper than BT.
Overall, it works exactly how you’d expect it to work – a limited number of functions, all of which work smoothly, with the absolute minimum level of potential for cocking up.
Find further information here.