Sunday, December 30, 2012

My super Android phone (versus iPhone 5)

The spec of my Jiayu G3 is discussed in the last post.   A few days into it, I figured out many superior features that Android phones can do while the iPhone 5 can't.

My G3 is untappable!   One weakness of Voip is encryption.  Propriety systems like Skype can easily add encryption.  Google Chat (Talk/Voice) don't have encryption, at least true as of last year.  SIP client like Sipdroid don't have it.

Sipdroid uses a PBX service (like a telephone exchange) that provide VPN.  But they charge for it.  Then there is an Openvpn related service who sells pay-as-you-go bandwidth.  This could be very attractive in comparison to my $6 a month service.  But then they don't support Linux so I have to pay extra on top of my desktop.  Then I discovered that their is the general Openvpn client.  About 5 sec into the app description, I realized that Android being Linux, I can use my existing Openvpn files from my service.  Indeed I just need to drop those key files into the microSDHC card and then file up Openvpn client without hassle.  You can turn it on and off just like any apps with a switch.  And there's a "key" indicator when connected.  Even better than the client on my desktop.

So whatever on my phone will be in a secure tunnel all the way to any of the Kryptotel servers.  From then it's unencrypted to the PBX, which interface with the telephone network.  Nobody can wiretap me like a telephone line.  They have to locate the service that I'm using, and the PBX I'm using, and then monitoring all the traffic.  It should not be easy to find out which connection is mine.  And then the servers and PBXes can be changed easily if needed be.  Of course end to end encryption you can simply use Skype.

BTW, you need to get a microSDHC card for the G3 or else many functions cannot be performed, such as the camera and many clients that need storage!  And without the card, you may think that the USB doesn't work at all other than charging.  Android dropped the old USB drive connection in favor of Media device protocol.  Other phones maintain the compatibility with or without a SD card.  The G3 implementation is simpler.  You don't see any storage from USB unless you have a SD card.

One more thing.  Sipdroid do not do sms / text, which is rather strange.  It used to have or may have, video too, but they took it out or haven't put them back in yet.  But the Sipdroid quality is super for free.  Once setup, you can use *43 for echoing test.  Basically they send you back your own voice once they received it.  I was worrying that it's too much.  But for less than 80 ms, it's like playing echo with a kid.  You tell them to repeat whatever you say face to face.

Google Voice can do text absolutely free that I always know and use.  But it's tricky without a sim card or with a disable sim.  GV setup always assume you have a working phone.  I also worry about multiple logins that will ruin the xmpp to sip protocol conversion.  At the end, I can send and receive text using the GV app. There is an app to integrate that with the native messenger, but tricky without a in service sim card.

As long as Google Voice is free, you don't need to pay anything.  If all else fails and go bust, you can always run your own telephone exchange.  The most popular PBX is Asterisk, which can be run on the $30 Raspberry Pi.  I'm surprised that there is no Asterisk server running on Android, which is a lot more powerful than the Pi at 700 MHz.  Most Android phones are dual core and >1GHz.

Of course I want to stream any of my media collection and any other things to my phone, say if I am in the bathroom.

The standard is DLNA.  There are apps for your Android which acts as a server, client, and controller.  So you can control whatever goes wherever, TV, computer, phones, even in your bathroom.  Apple has it's own standard.  You can do the same if you have iWhatever.  But for TV you still need an Apple box.  Most smart TV supports DLNA internally.

I felt so cheated because my smartTV doesn't support DLNA.  It does but not wifi streaming across your own network.  Worse, some of the same model does support it, depending on the over 20 digit product number!

I was thinking about a media server or a mountable nettop on the TV.  Of course I thought of the Pi too, that turned out to be pretty good at it.  The Pi is 6 years in the making.  While the Chinese strip off the screen of an Android dual-core phone and put everything in a USB sized stick.  The latest one is about US $60.  This is a no brainer.   It's a ready made DLNA server with all the apps you want for it.

It's an awesome chrometop as oppose to a chromebook.  You just need to fire up the chrome browser and you are as good as a chromebook with a huge HD monitor.  Particularly if you have so many computers, chrome is the best OS.  It doesn't matter which computer you use and your work is always on the cloud Google drive.

Basically it's a desktop with a huge monitor.  You can also play Android games with a wireless touchpad keyboard instead of touchscreen.  It can also be another phone by pairing it with a good quality headset.  The TV doesn't need to be on with all voice commands.

That is the reason I didn't go for cordless with extra handsets.  Everybody have cell phones and now at home you don't need to pay anything.  You can also turn the system into a private exchange.  Each cell phone assigned an internal extension like 200,201 .. 202.  You can do intercom too.  These are supported by PBXes but I'm not sure about the charge.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Android phone Jiayu G3 and VOIP app review

My Jiayu G3 android 4 phone has arrived.  At 1280x720, it has more pixels than the iPhone 5.  At the front, it uses Gorilla glass as in the iPhone 5.  It's constructed from light weight alloy (aluminum?) just as the iPhone 5.  The back cover is plastic but well protected by the metal frame.  Somebody called it QHD that is wrong.  QHD is 960x540.  This is the same as 720p TV.  While 1080p HD may be called full HD or HDX (Vudu).  Somebody called it retina display.  The G3 has more pixels but half an inch wider than the iPhone 5.  Whether it's retina, you can do the math.  I don't care.  I'm not losing any pixels if I watch Vudu in HD.

What made it so popular is the price.  At well under US $200 (no contract), it is an entry level phone used by students.

The external appeal carries on to the camera at 8MP, and the very decent front camera.  Both are high end specs like the Samsung Galaxy III.  The cams look good but I can't try them without a micro SD card, up to 32 GB.

What make the price low is the lack of 4G, which doesn't make a lot of sense outside of US and Europe without substantial 4G coverage, and for incompatible standards.  It's 3G so there is decent data speed.

It's dual core, but the bench mark is at the low end of current Android phones. I got call during game playing without lagging.  I could have chosen cheaper single core CPU but dual core gives me more assurance for a home phone.  The advantage of dual core may not show up in the benchmark.

It's a pretty good toy - watching movies better than the iPhone 5, the same camera resolution (though quality depends on other factors), and a very decent video phone.  It's a pretty game console with a much better screen than the Nintendo's.  It's weak at 3D graphics compared to high end Android phones because of the cheaper GPU.  But then the phone is for a landline, not a game machine.

Now for the VOIP software.  I only tested those apps that work with Google Voice.  If you are new, you want to create a new Google account so you have nothing to fear if you give out your password to 3rd-parties.  Then you create a Google Voice account and get a phone number.  You can port your wireless number to it.  For landline you need to port it to wireless first.  You need at least a working phone number to associate with a Google Voice account.  (But you don't need this associated account once you are verified.)

You should create a GV account first before you install the VOIP apps.  You have to login using a browser and set forwarding to Google Chat only.  And then you need to logout, otherwise incoming calls are routed to your PC.

The apps I tested are Sipdroid, GroveIP lite, and Talkatone.  All 3 will ask you for the GV account name and password.  Sipdroid ask you if you want to create a PBX account first.  You need to say yes to work with GV.

Sipdroid is most integrated into the Android OS.  It's hard to stop it from running.  Any attempt to call will reactivate it again.

I use the 1st echo test number to test the voice quality.

PSTN Test Numbers


  • 1-909-390-0003 - Ontario, California - Echo Test - No Ring, Immediate Echo


  • Send faxes to 1-888-877-1655 or 1-503-200-1300


  • 44-785-584-1311 - Voicemail on UK mobile. If you pay more than $0.10 to call this, see Avi Marcus


  • 972-72-264-1749 (temporary)- FreeSWITCH echo test via 012 on UK server, by Avi Marcus
  • 972-72-264-1751 (temporary)- FreeSWITCH standard MOH via 012 on a UK server, by Avi Marcus


  • +883-510-000-000-091 - Blueface Echo test


  • - Mouselike Sound Test - echo and others.
  • or for Iptel's echo test
  • sip:hangup$ - trigger a hangup of your choice, e.g. USER_BUSY
  • - "transfer your telemarketer calls to lenny to take care of !!!!" - it's random voice that talks during quiet times. 
The best voice quality is Sipdroid.  The worse is Talkatone.   It should be noted that the voice quality depends on things like traffic, routing and server.  But at least I'm trying them one after the other.

GrooveIP only supports G.711, which is the standard PSTN (landline quality) codec.  The excuse is that Google Voice supports that codec only.  This is not very true as we shall see.  Sipdroid supports the grand daddy of wideband codecs - G.722, the oldest HD voice standard.  There are other codecs that is designed for packet loss.

Delay and echo is a problem in VOIP calls.  The delay is obvious if you compare your old landline and Sipdroid via the echo test number.  It's like the other end starts to hear "one thousand", right after you finished saying "one thousand".  The delay is much shorter with landlines.  I don't think it's crippling.  I hope so.  And I think that this delay isn't noticeable when you actually don't hear yourself when not in the echo test.  The delay is about the same with GrooveIP and Talkatone.

The advantage of Sipdroid is that it displays the codec inuse, the % packet lost and the delay.  The delay is 80 to 110 ms so far.  Round trip or not I don't know.  This may not meet landline standards, but I think it's regarded as a problem in VOIP if the delay is greater than 200 ms.

If somebody dial your GV number via PSTN (analog), the G711 codec will be used by Google Chat to forward the call.  There's no advantage to use better codecs.  If you dial out from Sipdroid, Google Chat will settle for G.722, which then downgrade to G.711 if the number you called is PSTN.  The echo test service is obviously supporting G.722 because I get much better quality with Sipdroid than with my PSTN landline.

There are other important settings if you need Sipdroid to work well.  Typically, the PSTN side will hear echoes of themselves.  You don't hear your own echoes because smartphones have echo cancellation at the endpoint.  The PSTN echo is due to their voice from the earpiece coupled to the mic on your Android phone.  This can easily be reduced.  Fire up Sipdroid and use the setting menu.

For some phones the receiving volume is weak even on highest setting.  In this case you need to set the earpiece gain to high.  If you two echoes in the echo test, the first one is the wanted echo for the test, the 2nd is the unwanted, annoying echo.  You set the mic gain to low to reduce the unwanted echo.  Usually you won't be able to hear the unwanted echo after that.  Or, the unwanted echo is hardly noticeable unless you listen hard for it.  You can set the earpiece gain to low to further reduce any echoes, provided the ear piece volume is still sufficient.

The speaker phone won't work for any apps.  I think it may work if both are decent Android phones with echo cancellation.  But I can sacrifice this.  Most of the applicationis, I can use skype, conference calls, and bluetooth headsets instead.

GV is reliable so far.  May be the phone rang sooner than cell phones.  Voice transcript to email takes less than a minute I think to reach my phone.

Now the remaining is porting.  By law you can port your landline to wireless.  Even the cheapest prepaid should accept your request.  They can delay but cannot screwup.  My good old favorite is the Go phone prepaid.  Then you can port from wireless to Google Voice.

BTW, Google announced that Google Chat calling is free for US and CA in 2013.  This does not mean that GV is free too.  There is still no announcement on the GV blog.

Monday, December 24, 2012

In praise of the 900 MHz cordless phone

When my new Android SIP VOIP landline phone is on the air shipping, let me take the time to praise my old 900 MHz cordless phone, which prevailed several challenges.

When I was in my relocation apartment, I got my hands on a 3rd generation cordless at 900 MHz.  The 1st 2 generations analog cordless are useless.  That Panasonic sounded good, same as corded.  It hold well, actually even better because of the size and quality plastic.  That was 1998 !!!

Before carrying further, I have to tell the story of the razors.  My father uses one blade razors for all his life.  I do the same rather than power shavers, which doesn't do the job well, and still doesn't.  Suddenly, dual blade shavers came out.  I tried it because I have no choice.  It was free.  It seemed good.  Then all of a sudden triple blades.  Now, if you still don't think that 4 or 5 blade razors is a scam, you must be stupid.  They got away with it for far too long.

When I got my own house several months later, I decided to get the same phone.  It sound good and it feel good.  And my budget was tight.

At the time, manufacturers ganged together to get you to replace your cordless phone.  The Europeans always have DECT, the digital cordless standard which will be similar to the US 900 MHz digital.  But DECT guarantees compatibility among manufactures, and cover necessary standards such as encryption.

Following is the standard sale pitch at the time.  Digital is of course better.  High frequency is better, like 2.4 GHz.  Spread spectrum is even better.  Later the ultimate monster 5.6 GHz spread spectrum came out.  I am sort of an insider so I know.  This is nothing more than 5-blade razors.

Digital will be better, but if you don't have interference problems, the voice cannot be better than the phone line and depends very much on the quality of your mic and earpiece. Higher frequency have shorter range and have more problems to overcome.  2.4 GHz is the microwave spectrum.  Early and not so early wi-fi all stopped whenever I was cooking something in the microwave.  So you don't need higher frequency when the spectrum is not crowed.  The crowd never came on my 900 MHz.

Spread spectrum in cordless is never the intended use of spread spectrum.  FCC limits the power of every phone so as not to interfere with each other or with other services.  By transmitting a wideband signal, the total power is increased very much and created a phone with a monster range that the rest of the world never need.  Most people in US don't need it too.  If you have a house of farm that is measured in acres, and you want every inch of it covered with cordless signal, then it's for you.   But it make more sense to carry a cell phone when you go horse riding, and add a repeater for reaching the out house at the far end that you will likely ever take a call.

The salesman started the pitch on me when I walked near the cordless section of the store.  I resisted it and picked the Panasonic that I can spot on the shelf.  The saleman walked away disappointed and commented to other saleman that "they are difficult".  I came prepared and I knew the pitch well.

Today, 2012, it still sounded better than any other phone I have.  And I'll be still keeping it in 2013 in case that I have to revert to using ATA for VOIP.

For an uninterpreted service of 14 years, the 1st hurdle is the battery.  People are still buying custom battery packs from the manufacturer.  People are still replacing their phones because their battery ran flat, costing not much more to replace the phone than the battery pack.  But the batteries are standard NiCd batteries.  You just need to keep the connector and solder the new rechargeable battery together and to the connector.  NiMH batteries are better and compatible with the phone charger.  Well, at least you need a cheap continuity tester (like a light bulb) and a soldering iron.  But I got those already.

We are the 1st on the street to get cable telephone service, and cable TV and Internet.  We use their digital services like answering machine.  Not too long after the phone, we realized that we need call screening and an answering machine that we alert and operate locally, and we need caller ID.  Instead of replacing the phone, we added to it an answering machine.  We got it because it was cheap but it ended up as resilient as the phone.  It have no hi-tech screen but a talking caller ID.  People are amazed by the convenience of this feature on the latest version of digital cordless today.  Some smartphone apps have it too.  The UI is totally via voice prompt.  You can set everything by following the voice.

Many times we wanted to scrap the old phone and answering machine and replace them with a digital cordless with answering machine and a caller ID display.  Every time I was deterred by the silliness of the cordless sale pitch and the bank of 5.6 GHz spread spectrum on the shelves.  If I don't buy one of those silly things, I am cheap.  I am cheap anyway so it doesn't hurt if I keep my favorite phone.

Also, I hate to give up the talking caller ID.  Yes, we can still use it even if we replace the phone.  But the one time I actually ordered a replacement is when I found a tiny phone with answering machine that can save a lot of space on the kitchen counter.

Again the main reason to replace the phone is because the phone is directly programmed to use some cheap international call providers.

It must be a conspiracy.  The caller ID of the cheap phone does not work with my "digital" phone company.  The phone is very small, made of very cheap plastic and designed like a square bar with ugly buttons.  I only tolerate it because we wouldn't be using it much. 

Instead of upgrade to a 5.6GHz spread spectrum, I dug up the old phone and answering machine from the garage.  I could have sold them or donated to charity for the blind.  The buttons are big to huge and you can use voice to setup everything on the answering machine.  And remember that the caller ID is speaking. 

Many years have past when the Sunrocket came.  It's a no brainer as my phone bill can be cut in half or a third.  They came in a big way so there was less worry of it going bust in a short time.  But I was wrong.

I decided against a ATA (analog telephone adapter) as I will be still keeping my old favorite junks plus a new box.  A wife cordless phone will be most sensible.  I know  the ATA's can be unlocked to use for other service providers but it made no sense to me.  So I finally got a new digital cordless phone with a caller ID display.

I was so happy with it that with difficulty I found an extra handset for it.  Both the "base" and the extension handset are from target.  But by then it's not easy to find the extra handset, as Sunrocket isn't promoting itself and any shops that still promote that thing will run the risk of being called scam.  Soon after that Sunrocket folded.  Those new toys became useless junk and I have to dig up my old favorite junks out once again.

The Sunrocket junks aren't that useless.  They can still be used as intercomm.  They can be used as walkie talkie outdoors.  Though you  have to bring an inverter to charge the base in the car.  They are a bit bulky but being digital, better than analog walkie talkies.  They may be still around but I haven't saw them for years.

Again many years have passed when my old favorite junks are challenged again.  Although I have been using Google Voice on my cell phone for years, Obi ignited my desire to ditch my phone company.  You get free calls for $40 one off!  Why not?  On closer examination, free calls rely on the Obi server to bridge Google Talk XMPP protocol and the SIP protocol.  They are in a way promising you a forever free service after you pay them $40 for a device.  If Obi ran out of business, you are high and dry.  And then I will still be using my analog phone without a caller id display.

It just happened that the Gigaset SIP DECT cordless phone is on the market for a deep discount.  I got the last one on Amazon.  If you know the history of Siemen, you may also want to own a piece of history of good engineering.  The hardware has to be good.  And it was.  Not so sure about the user interface.  And it was bad.

I got the Gigaset because I was mislead by one reviewer that the Gigaset works too with Google Voice so you can make free calls.  It would be a much better choice than Obi.  Digital all the way.  If you use the Obi, the output will be the same old analog signal from the phone company, and then you may digitized it again via DECT or the silly 5.6 GHz spread spectrum.

It was not to be.  The geek way of landline replacement doesn't mean the same as my requirement, that 1st graders can make calls and especially emergency calls.  Free calls depends on Gizmo, which provide the same service as OBI does to Google Voice.  But GV brought Gizmo and that service stopped.  There's one guy who provided the same OBI bridging service to anyone.  But it didn't work and it won't be reliable anyway.

There are other SIP providers.  Some charge over a hundred to lock you for a year.  Some calls are very cheap but you have to pay $10 credit up front anyway.  Generally I have no confidence as nobody comes out as the clear winner.  I have a limited window to return the phone.  Most of the SIP providers programmed in the phone went out of business.  Does it say something to you?

The UI is pretty crap compared to a smartphone.  Because of the display size, it's crap compared to a $15 go phone !!

After communicating with the seller and Siemen's, they can't recommend any good SIP service so I returned it.  My analog 900 MHz survived another challenge!

I stumbled on two technologies that I liked.  HD voice or wideband voice that every VOIP phone is capable of, but not traditional landline nor Obi.  SIP and DECT - the all digital cordless.  I really wanted to keep it as a piece of good engineering history, as you see what the company is going through.  The division won't be there for long.  To their credit, support returned my emails promptly though they are repeating the instructions on the manual.  Their SIP server still working for free calls between their own products.  The seller told me that he knew nothing about the product, and gave me full refund after consulting his manager.

I gave up on wideband voice on SIP.   The Obi?  Maybe.  Then I stumble upon the latest Panasonic cordless.  It's DECT on the US frequency band.  The one feature that worth buying is that it can be used as a bluetooth headset for your cell phone at home.  It is pretty cool when you are at home you can take your calls off the cordless without doing anything.  Then I found out that the latest latest model is on sale on the Panasonic site for a huge bargain.  It even have talking caller ID.  It's a no brainer.

I was so sure that my 900 MHz will finally be RIP.  All the functions are replaced, direct replacement at less than $70 for two handsets.

But before it arrived, I changed my mind and cannot get over wideband voice.  And I thought of getting an unlocked Android for making SIP/VOIP calls via Google Voice.  There are multiple apps for that so it won't go down as easily as Sunrocket.  I have nothing to lose if it doesn't work out.  I can upgrade my cell phone as this phone has more pixels than the iPhone 5.

As of today, I'm still using my 900 MHz cordless.  Indeed I just called Apple to return an iPad 2.  I can't believe that iPad 2 is older than the "New" iPad.  What are you thinking?! You think everyone on earth is following your limited product line?  I never lay eyes on an Apple product since the Apple IIe.  And I don't listen to any talks about them.  It's a gift for 2nd grade kids.  They deserve all the candies this year.  I have my iPhone killer for adults.

Google Voice cannot charge you in 5 days time

I have no bias whether GV remains free or not.  If it's free, I can have a free landline.  If it charges, it will be a reliable VOIP provider that I can rely on for cheap calls.  Remember Sunrocket?  If it charges more than the business SIP/VOIP rate, they won't have corporate customers.  Same for high volume residential rates.  For low volume users, I really don't care whether it's 1c or 2c per minute.  I just want to drop my landline for $30 a month for nothing much.

GV still haven't announced anything yet.  It's not obviously purely base on business decisions of the unit alone.  If it is, they have to and can make a decision long ago.  GV have to sync with the internet strategies of the other main units.  Perhaps they deliberately make announcement randomly at the end of the year to discourage independent developers or users to rely on their current from of service.  You are grateful that they are still here and still free.  You won't complain and ask for more.

To start charging, they just can't tell current customers you have to pay in 5 days time.  If they start charging, they have to provide a whole department of customer services.  They cannot discriminate landline users who want to port.  They have to provide XMPP to SIP gateway like Obi, which is trivial.

I just realized a few things in the Google internet strategy.  DLNA and Google@home.

Every Android is connected to the internet, via wifi or wireless data.  Everyone of them are selling ads unless you only use smartphones for dumb phone calls.

More Androids means more revenue.

Every Android since xx.x supports DLNA, enabling your smart TV to play a slide show of photos on your hardware connected to your PC or file server.  You can listen to music on your phone, streaming from your PC or file server or media center.  All the smart TV supports that.  Being Apple, they have their own incompatible standard.  So if you want to streaming your music to where you work, Android is for you.  I don't know if it works that way now, but it should.  Windows supports DLNA since 7, and pretty good at it.  Being Microsoft, it must be lagging behind to use an establish standard.  I'm sure Windows Mobile OS will support it.  Anyway, I think you should be able to control DLNA devices with your phone, whatever it is.  I think Apple will lose out in the long run, needing a box to connect to your TV, while DNLA TV's don't need a box.

Google@home go after home automatic via wifi, using Android as the controller of course.  $50 a light bulb is laughable, but people have been paying that for a switch.  Home automation using power line like X10 are unreliable, or expensive like Instanton.  There are newer wireless standards but not doing well.  All of these lack a controller with decent UI.  Android is the answer.  Home automatic may not be the killer app, but home security system apps sure will have much more users.

Apple got there first with the iPhone, but they have nothing other than devices.  And so they try to lock in customers by their own standards.  Grocery are great apps with a large user bases.  Imagine you can use your Android to monitor everybody's alarm system!

Microsoft have the power to play catchup like the xbox with kinect.  With Windows phone sure there are some advantages when you are using Windows on your desktop, provided if you don't hate it.  But at the end, what do you want from Windows on your phone?  Using Microsoft Office?  Google office on the cloud is a much better and reliable choice for people on the go.  Gone are the days when secretaries are proud that they can do different headers on even and odd pages.

I was surprised that Microsoft want to be more like Apple, device oriented.  Yeah, perhaps they know they lost the internet war to Google.  Google may not be more profitable, but they just need to dug the trenches and hold up.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Google making big waves in 2013

A few days after my prediction that Google Voice will be free for 2013, another person at CNBC put it all together.  Google will lead a phone price war in 2013. This fits well with my prediction.  That Google is after something big and Google Voice is part of its overall strategy.  Charging for Google Voice isn't worth it's time and effort.

I just find out that Republic Wireless offer $19 per month for unlimited everything!  The phone is Moto Android at $250.  It will automatically use wi-fi if available.  It is of course a Sprint reseller.

Firstly, the unlimited data is a bit suspicious.  I don't think it's 4G, but 3G.  Sprint is struggling, rolling out services like this and the landline replacement immobile cell phone at Walmart.  You can see how Google works.  It owns Moto.  Moto may not be that profitable, but with the "custom" hardware, the Republic Wireless plan cannot work, and Google cannot increase it's presence.  A guy in the same newspaper said Google have no mobile strategy.  What?  Android is staring in his face.  Window mobile OS has a long way to catch up even if it works.  And Apple have nothing.  Unless it has some secret innovations, it is just a phone maker and now the phones from China are below $199 with better specs than the iPhone 5.  (though no 4G)

Once the monthly charge drops significantly below the $30 mark and for reasonable usage like unlimited, more people will drop their landline.  Your are better off buying an extra cell phone.  The Walmart plans will only work if they give you better voice quality than cell calls, perhaps via data network.  They didn't say so.  For $99 you get an adapter.  For $250, you get an Android.

The same article said VOIP won the landline war, and VOIP via mobile data will do the same.  I sort of agree but there is no profit in it for big guys to provide VOIP for low volume residential lines.  There is no obvious winners in this market.  There is just confusion and doubt.  I totally agree that you only need data, and the mobile bill can be slashed by 2/3!

That supports my Android for landline plan.  It's mobile VOIP but I don't intend to take out, so I'm not paying a dime for service, other than my ISP.  If they have a data plan only for a few dollars a month, I'll try it.  All carriers and resellers force you to buy something you don't need.  Even Republic Wireless force you to buy their Moto sprint phone.

But Sprint (Virgin) prepaid Anodrid phones are well below the $100 mark.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

The road to an Android landline

There is the prequel of got burned by Sunrocket, got a very cheap all in one cordless that doesn't work with caller ID from my "digital" phone company.  I tried and returned a very good SIP DECT phone.  And returning the latest Panasonic cordless for a restocking fee.  (Can't sell it on eBay or Amazon)  I'm still using my 900MHz cordless and talking CID answering machine.  That's a long story.  But the talk of getting crowded in the 900MHz spectrum and interference is bull shit.  It never happened and now may be I'm the only one in that band.  Well, that depends on where you live as well.

I had done some research.  It's doable but not straightforward.  You may not get high quality voice all the time.  But I have no doubt that my wife and kids can use it like the good old phone.  Indeed I think that will be easier as tablets are so popular.

The latest cordless are cool.  They can be used as a bluetooth headset for cell phones.  Basically you can take mobile phone calls using the phone at home.  But why?  The cell phone is capable of better voice, infinitely better user interface.  If you want comfort, you can always use a bluetooth headset.  And then the adapter.  ATA means analogue telephone adapter.  Not cool.  The DECT cordless specifications includes SIP VOIP and codecs.  But you need to get a SIP DECT phone.  DECT phones alone will be designed for your "analog" landline.

Google is confusing.  It has to be.  If it wants to be a carrier, it could get anti-trust treatment.  Of course other carriers are dealing with it carefully, like blocking Google Wallets.  The project with Dish to provide wireless data says it all.  Interestingly, the Google apps don't work very well on iPhones.  Now they have the hardware (Moto), the software powering more than half of the smartphones, whose owners are paying for the 4G network.  And they are carriers too!

All Androids are capable of wideband voices for over a year now, somebody said.  Android 4 and above is safe.  But I would think earlier models are OK if you need to hack it a bit.

Somebody said Google Voice only supports G.711, the narrowband codec fit for POTS.  That's surprising as I checked that Google Talk supports many wideband codecs.  Somebody else said that GV shouldn't matter if you do not use it "directly".  I sort of know that GV isn't an application, but some redirecting service that shouldn't negotiate the codec directly.

The bottom line is that I hear rather good quality.  The sipdroid reports that it is using G.722, the grandfather of wideband codecs.  It doesn't make a lot of sense as I was talking to my old phone on the old line.  That's the problem of echo, background noises, input and output levels.  Some apps just don't work.  But they can be overcame.  Somebody says G.722 isn't suitable for mobile data or Wifi because of packet loss.  Other codecs will be better.  But my Wifi is at home totally under my control.

Also, the Wifi range is roughly 100ft indoors while DECT is at least double or more.  I don't think that matters too much for my house.  Extenders can't cost much more than routers.  And you can always bring out the darn cell phone or the sim card when you are going to the extremes of your estate someday.  Also, the router should support the newer n standard and with more than 1 antenna.

First, the phone.  I decided against a tablet because that would not be suitable for kids' hands.  Games will always be played.  On the other hand a big phone will be good, with length and weight more similar to the old phone.  The longer distance between earpiece and mic might just be improving the echo problems.

A resolution of 720 HD will be preferred.  That's the highest resolution you can get now.  So my younger kids with nobody to call will not bother me to get a cell phone because they want to play games.  A decent front and back camera wouldn't hurt as they will be used for video phones.

Android 4.0 and above will be easier to maintain/update and likely wideband voice capable.  I would think dual core will be safe to run all the apps, codecs and play games at the same time.  Also I think Skype needed the power for peer to peer.

A Chinese made phone fit the bill.  It's 3G only without 4G.  But I don't need any G.  It cost about $200 if you are brave enough.  I was willing to risk it on DHgate but my bank didn't seem too eager.  I know paypal dropped them in August and never accepted the others.  Any my bank sort of intercepted the online transaction in the form of a security check.  I confirmed but they seemed to decline the payment anyway.  I ended up with several orders of the same thing.

Those guys have a different mentality and I don't blame everything on them.  It's like you made a honorable decision, and you cannot cancel in a few days' time.  What?  I didn't even paid!  Some companies over here asked for 50% restocking fee.  You are lucky if they accept returns.  Android Nazi's.

It's interesting what they are selling on their own sites inside China.  Of course the biggest promotions are on the famous Brands like Moto and Samsung and of course iWhatever.  Of course they cost more than from here.  They also classify phones into political incorrect catagories - Men's phone, Women's phone and Student's phone.  You will be humbled when you check your own model.  What do you think their idea on the under $100 Virgin's prepaid Android?  For Virgins?

The score for now.  1 returned SIP/DECT.  1 pair of link to cell Cordless on sale.  4 orders of the same 1280x720 4.5" Android.  One unconfirmed payment possibly declined.  I was willing to pay $50 extra for the same thing but now probably will not make it for Christmas.

Let you know how it goes.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

The compelling reason to replace your POTS landline

HD Voice.

For low volume users, cost isn't the compelling reason.  Look what happened to Sunrocket, when I was a user too.  If you charge lower than the minimum Vonage charges per month, obviously it's hard to survive.  If you don't talk much, there's no reason to move over to Vonage paying about the same.

There's a lot of SIP VOIP providers, but the market is a mess.  I'm not doing it again after Sunrocket.

Wireless carriers are now offering you cheap landline replacement by giving you a huge cell phone that you cannot take outside.  It's cheaper but the quality is not as good as POTS.  You have to buy the adapter that's a sort of "contract" or activation charge.

I recently got and returned a SIP phone.  I love my voice for the first time with the echo test.  I don't trust any providers and can't work with Google Voice like my POTS landland.  So I returned it.

Many users have experienced HD voice via SIP or other forms of VOIP such as Google Talk, Skype and other chat clients.  Now wireless carriers are starting to provide it.

It's the cool factor.  You may have a silly 5.8 GHz cordless in every room.  But it's not cool.  You can't get HD out of the phone line.  But you can from the Internet (also wireless data, same thing.)

It's compelling when someone call you, and your gadget don't have any wideband codec to respond.

And you can get it all free.  Two compelling reasons.  No configuration.  Three ...

Landline replacement means many things to many people.   Replace it with wireless means you are getting rid of the landline altogether.  There's a lot of reason to keep a landline.  If you have a family and small kids who have no cell phones yet.  Even for a couple it's worthwhile to have a landline.  Basically the call is for whoever is in the house, as oppose to an individual.  It's free, so why not.

My landline replacement and enhancement means moving over to VOIP.  By replacement I mean small kids can pick up the "phone" and dial anyone (including 911) with a phone number.  The outgoing caller ID will be what you expect as a landline.  Of course anyone can call you with your phone number anytime.  Even if you ditch the landline altogether, it's good if you can automatically have HD voice at home using the same cell phone.

Never buy any VOIP adapters, even if they work with Google Voice.  You don't get wideband voice by using the same old analog phone. 

I don't know why SIP phones are so expensive.  Cordless SIP phones are more expensive.  It doesn't make much sense with a SIP adapter, and then plug in your super DECT phones or spread spectrum cordless phones.  The adapter output is analog, and behavior exactly like the good old landline.  I got a cordless gigaset which integrates SIP with DECT.  That make more sense and I got it at a huge discount.  I got HD voice on it.  But the UI is too poor compared with, say, an android.

What make more sense is Wifi SIP phone.  But why are they so expensive?  Business people still in business can pay more?

It dawned on me that every Android phone is a Wifi SIP phone.  I checked and there is native support on it.  But like a SIP phone, you must pay a SIP provider.  When you receive a call to your GV number, Google don't convert the protocol to SIP and redirect to your phone.  It's trivial.  You can't even dial out without paying the wireless carrier, but you can use Google talk on any computer connected to the internet.  It doesn't make sense and may be I'm wrong on the last bit.

So Google is doing most of the work, the most being giving you a number that people can reach you.  But Google don't provide the last mile.  The work that Obi did is trivial.  It's like login for you in a computer, receive the GV call, and convert the protocol to SIP to send to your IP.

There are actually a lot of apps on the Android that do the same thing.  Either free hoping you pay for the premium SIP services, ad supported, or one off like the Obi.  So if one server is down and out of business, you have some backup.  And you can always fall back to Skype.  Now Skype added outgoing caller ID, but to get a number you need to subscribe, and I don't know if they can port your number now.  I have a single core Android that don't work well for Skype.  But SIP is simpler and works well without peer to peer.  Though why people don't make a standalone Google talk phone without the video?

An OBi cost $40.  A new Android is as low as around $80 for prepaid Sprint (Virgin).  Paying $40 extra for a Wifi phone is a no brainer.  I don't know how the basic Android performs with HD codec.  But for sure I will buy a dual-core expecting some kids will be playing on it or watching youtube, making sure calls will not be dropped.  The Walmart landline replacement cost $99 and you HAVE to pay $15 each month.  Verizon has the same thing which is basically the same hardware I think.

I have mentioned that connected to the internet GPS are quite accurate for E911 if you are in a single family house.  I will further say that to nominate a household on the street to keep the landline.  My phone line is basically the same internet fibres as the cable company provides everything.  And after the Sunrocket incident, I'm fairly sure they punished me by giving me an internet adapter at the box, rather than giving me back the old line, which has more degree of separation with the internet fibers.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Google Voice will be free for 2013

That's my educated prediction.

If GV charges, it will be competing with SIP companies, who are dropping like flies with new small flies to replace them constantly.  Google won't do that unless they are short of cash to keep the service.   They aren't short of that type of cash.  And they could find some way to find cash for that, like advertising in GV in some form like gmail.

GV will be used for something big, much bigger than competing with half dead small fishes for 1cent a minute.  Not, unless they have to care for the small changes.

To understand the Google conspiracy, you have to take off the sim card of your Android Phone and look at the screen.  What do you see?

Emergency service

Got it?  Google is not interested in landlines because they are NOT connected to the INTERNET.  And Google will be very careful not to upset wired and wireless carriers and ISP's.  Google will break out in a big way when they have to power to call the shots.

What landline replacement?  That's a silly thing to do.  Think about landline enhance.  Got it now?

Only the poor will replace their $30 landline with $15 wireless landline from Walmart.  Or buy Obi to use with GV.  May be add a state of the art cordless phone system in all rooms.

Your Android phone is the best landline replacement & enhancement.  You can immediately download sipdroid or talkatone apps and try it with GV.  No configuration needed other than giving out your password to GV.  (You can always create a new gmail/gv account for that.)  Sipdroid will give you HD Voice for free.  Every Android phone have decent mic and earpiece and power for codec/equalizer if needed.  Landline carriers cannot compete because they cannot give you wideband signal without changing all their system.  Phone companies are usually also ISP's.  They are not providing you very cheap phone calls on their internet unless they are forced to.  Others have to do it.  And that's the reason they drop like flies.  Remember sunrocket?   No business uses landline anymore because they heavy use justify moving over to sip internet.  You can't squeeze money out of cheap home users who are not willing to pay $30 a month.  Sunrocket found out the hard way.

A spare cheap Android is on the way to my home. That will be the landline enhancement, ditching narrow band voice to wideband voice.  And that's not the type of replacement people have been talking about for years.  It's the kind of replacement that little kids can use and can call 911, just like old POTS.  The caller ID of both incoming and outgoing will be exactly as Grandma expected.  No fiddling.  Just pick up the phone and press the virtual number pad.

As for E911, I don't even want to spare $1 a month for SIP providers.  Check the google map on the Android.  The GPS with aid from internet is right at my house most of the time.  At most it goes to the yard of my neighbor.  Power backup and phone backup are all figured out.  I have to admit traditional landline are more reliable but ... old phone companies dont maintain rural areas that much, and new phone companies are also ISP's.  Go figure.

I shouldn't give out too much.  But Sprint is rolling silently rolling HD voice on mobile.  Iphone is capable but carriers are not interested.  I will tell you more when I dumped all my cordless / answering machines on ebay.

You can't use Google Voice on mobile phones without going through the carriers and pay for it.  You know what Google is dealing with.

A spare Android connects to the internet via wifi.  Once on the interent you can use GV at will without paying anybody a cent.  Carriers rule the air, ISPs rule the cables.  FB may rule the internet someday.  But Google rules the internet AND mobile now.

Update: Google lead phone price war in 2003