So, what do I want out of my next laptop and what must it include?
engin SoftPhone Starter Pack
- Call Rates, RRP, Package on a whole
- 2 hours offer doesn't apply to all countries, Softphone interface could be improved
Including a headset and two hours free talk time, the Engin Softphone Starter pack is a good buy with only a few minor issues.
Price$ 9.95 (AUD)
Engin are a broadband phone company who specialise in VoIP (Voice Over Internet Protocol) and their Softphone Starter Pack is a great, low cost way for consumers to get a taste of this new technology.
The Engin Softphone Starter pack includes up to two hours of free talk-time at an international rate of 3.5 cents per minute for the UK, Canada, USA, China, Hong Kong and New Zealand. You are still able to call anywhere in the world at different rates available from the Engin website . For example, calling Italy is charged at four cents per minute instead of 3.5. We still think these prices are very competitive and you do get pretty good value for money.
In terms of domestic rates, Engin's service is equally competitive; a flat rate of 10c for standard local and national calls, with mobiles slightly more expensive at 27 cents per minute. Furthermore, calls between Engin numbers are entirely free. For those who call you, the rates are the same as standard landline calls - local area and long distance.
The Softphone Starter Pack includes a single earpiece with inbuilt microphone, a CD containing the eyeBeam software and a card with your unique service key. The Starter Pack is incredible easy to set up; simply register an Engin account, install the Softphone application and plug in your earpiece and microphone. Once your registration is complete, Engin supply you with a unique phone number, just like a normal landline. If your computer is on and your broadband connection running, this number can be dialed as you would a normal telephone and you simply use the software to answer the call. The fact that you get a phone number for incoming calls is a big plus for the Engin service.
The Engin eyeBeam software is fairly easy to use, although the interface is not as intuitive as we would have liked. In particular the buttons are very close to each other so if you are using a mouse, it may become a slow process. There are mute and speakerphone functions as well as six speed dial spaces where you can store frequently dialed numbers. Conveniently, there are speaker and microphone volume controls beside the keypad, so it's easy to adjust volume levels during calls.
With these types of packages, it all comes down to quality of service and we were pleased to report that we had no major concerns with Engin in this regard. It is important to note though, that quality of service does depend on a number of variables. In our experience calls were clear, loud and for most part our friends thought we were calling them on a standard landline telephone. Our only issue is with the included headset. Although we didn't expect much considering the Starter Pack costs less than $10, its quality is fairly poor. Its good enough to give you a taste of this technology, but we recommend a VoIP headset for optimum performance. At this price though we can't really complain.
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