SIP-based softphones make the grade

* CounterPath's product earns top spot for feature set

SIP-based softphones make the grade

By Michael B. Hommer, Robert B. Tarpley

Since we first tested softphones in 2002, they have improved to tap into wider broadband pipes, faster CPUs, and more capable versions of Windows that decrease latency to 60 msec or less, and thereby make the business proposition much more attractive. There also is the economic aspect: A typical business hard phone costs $350 to $450, while softphones generally run $50 to $60 per seat.

In this test of third-party softphones, we examined the products that could run across a variety of SIP-based IP PBX back ends. We invited all players in this market, and CounterPath with its eyeBeam 1.5 softphone and DiamondWare with its Wi-Fone 0.9 softphone agreed to participate; AdoreSoftphone and Mediaring declined.

CounterPath and DiamondWare offer viable SIP softphones that provide basic phone services with acceptable voice quality. Geared more toward an OEM market where partners might build on their own features, the DiamondWare Wi-Fone is a straightforward basic softphone. The eyeBeam maximizes the feature support available within SIP specifications and adds video support, which is why it came out on top in this test.

For more on this test, please click here.

See how the phones tested measure up with the competition listed in our IP Phone Buyer's Guide.

Tarpley, a senior engineer for Miercom, can be reached at
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