I purchased the USRobotics USB Internet Phone 9600A about five years ago now, when broadband internet was really picking up and calls via the internet via programs like Skype were becoming more and more possible, and popular. Obviously the real draw is being able to call other countries for free, but another advantage for us at the time was that you don't need to have a BT line or pay a BT connection fee (we had moved into a flat which had BT wall sockets but the connection was £160!).
We purchased the USRobotics USB Internet Phone 9600A from Tesco on special offer at £20 which was a great price at the time for a USB Skype phone. It came with a Skype setup CD too (not that we needed it as we already had Skype installed).
The phone is fairly basic, but that's not a bad thing, as it's really quite plug and play. It pulls power from the USB port, so there are no batteries or charging to worry about. In terms of looks, it is very much modelled on an early Nokia, with it's grey silver / metallic finish, and the button layout, with up / down menu buttons, red 'drop call' and green 'make call' buttons, and the keypad.
The phone can be programmed so you can speed dial including voicemail, and the screen though mono and fairly blocky, is very large and clear to read. You can adjust the volume of the call via the handset and the audio quality for us is very good. Of course with it being a Skype phone (or any other internet phone service) you may occasionally get the odd blip or crackle, and of course if either end loses their internet connection the call is dropped. So I wouldn't say the quality is comparable to a land line phone, though it is excellent in terms of being a free call made over the internet! We actually paid for an incoming number with Skype and the USB handset can be set up with a variety of basic but not too bad ring tones (much like an early cordless phone). It even has caller display.
The USB cable is long, about two feet, longer than the average USB cable length and this is a decent consideration that you might not want or need to be staring at the computer screen when you're talking (as you can operate the call from the handset). It does at least allow you to sit in a chair next to the computer without having to be hovering over it. It did however get irritating having to be in the same position in order to make and receive calls. This is why we eventually upgraded to a WiFi Skype phone which we used for some time before moving to a traditional land line. We moved to this because of the aforementioned call quality issues, it simply became a bit irritating to be on the phone and it goes silent. In terms of the handset itself I cannot fault it though - but I don't think the internet will ever be reliable enough!
We still use Skype, but without a dedicated internet phone handset, as now we both have laptops and so do our family, we can talk AND webcam at the same time for free. I think this is the main drawback of the USRobotics USB Internet Phone 9600A or any internet phone. The call quality will never be enough to truly be a replacement for a traditional landline, and of course, you're not benefitting from the major advantage of Skype - that you can see the person you are calling.
That said, for what it is, the USRobotics USB Internet Phone 9600A was certainly an affordable, well made and reliable hanset, which was easy to use. If you do spend a lot of time talking to someone using an internet voice service, and the lack of webcam isn't an issue, and the price of the calls (say free from country to country) overrides the call cut outs and blips, then I'd certainly recommend it as you can pick it up for a ridiculously cheap price on eBay. If you can spend a bit more though I would recommend a WiFi alternative as you can also pick those up cheaply.
For me, I'm glad I have my trusty landline. But when money was tight the £20 handset and negligible monthly fee of Skype did allow me to keep in touch with my family on what to all intents and purposes felt like a decent quality phone, even if they didn't themselves have a computer. Now times have moved on it's not something I use any more, but I can easily see it being very handy to say a student, or someone travelling as a cheaper alternative to using a mobile phone for calls, especially if free WiFi is being utilised!
A 4/5 for me considering the pluses and negatives. You can't really go wrong for what they cost now.
USB Internet Phone
I thought I would try an internet phone having seen an advert on tv.
At first I thought it was too good to be true being able to get totally free calls to anyone on the receiving end with an internet phone also. Also the calls being extremely cheap and sometimes cheaper to overseas numbers. I had a bro living in Korea at the time and it was only 2p per minute to call him.
The phone itself looks fine, appears sturdy and straightforward to use, although appearances can be deceptive.
I set up the phone which was a bit complicated at first then made my first call.
I was very disappointed, the usb connection was loose and unless you were sitting like a waxwork Tussauds dummy whilst on phone it was very easily pulled out of the USB port, it was also a very low volume when ringing although turned up full.
On top of that the calls after a couple of minutes had constant interference and sometimes echoing which was esp heard by the person at the other end. Not sure if this was a phone fault or a fault with the VOIP system.
It seems in theory to be a great thing but maybe technology has progressed too quickly and needs a bit of fine tuning, until then my phone will remain unplugged.