IP Phones vs Regular Phones
Every technology has a device which makes the best use of the features available to it. For example in the early days of the Internet, there were a few firms which tried to adapt regular television sets for Internet access since everyone already had a TV. While the idea was workable, it wasn't very useful. And that's because a television is a poor device choice for the technology which the Internet could bring. A television had a strictly defined functionality and interface which was poorly suited to the adaptability required to use the Internet. Only a computer would be able to unleash the net's true potential.
Similarly, VoIP is a technology which works best on its own hardware. From the point of view of the consumer, this means the phones we use for VoIP must be able to take full advantage of the benefits VoIP has to offer. This doesn't mean we can't use existing hardware. We most certainly can. But without the true VoIP infrastructure, you're limiting yourself unnecessarily. In this article, we take a look at IP phones and how they differ from regular analog phones.
How IP Phones are Different
The single biggest difference between regular phones and IP phones is that the latter are infinitely more configurable than the handsets we've been using all this while. In fact, they're closer to mini computers than just phones. This is necessary to take advantage of all the extra features which VoIP provides such as 3 way calling, conferencing, call waiting and call blocking.
IP phones also typically come with a large screen to display necessary information and allow for easy configurability. The more advanced IP phones have LCD screens which can also be used for video calling capabilities.
Superficially, IP phones also have an ethernet port instead of a phone jack using which they can be connected via a regular ethernet cable to an Internet source such as a router. In fact, depending on the model they can also be used as more complex elements of the VoIP network and control other phones.
Really good IP phones are also specially designed to make full use of VoIP HD voice capabilities. If you have hosted proxy PBX systems, contact your ITSP to get recommendations about which phones are the best to use. After all, HD voice is one of the reasons for switching to VoIP systems and you want a device which will make full use of this feature.