If you're still thinking the biggest phone decision you must make is which cell carrier to sign up with, think again.
The hot topic in telephony these days is voice over internet protocol, or VoIP.
Such systems promise cheaper calling, but usually require special phones. Actiontec Electronics is offering an alternative. Its Internet Phone Wizard allows you to connect a standard phone to the internet. It then uses a service called Skype to make calls.
Sound quality is about the same as a cell phone.
There are some costs to consider. Skype lets you call other people with Skype for free, but calling anyone else requires you open an account with Skype - in euros at the moment, as Skype is headquartered in Luxemburg. Calls cost 0.017 euros each. Voice mail and a number for people to call you are available in beta-test versions at present.
This is definitely cutting-edge technology. If you can live with that, take a look. If you're not an early adopter, you might want to wait a while.
Any suggestions for gadgets we should try? Send them to firstname.lastname@example.org
Available at www.actiontec.com
Specs Works with Windows 2000/XP PC with 400 MHz or faster processor, 128MB RAM, CD-ROM drive and available USB port