3. IP Phones

A Dedicated Handset for a Dedicated Crime FighterIf you wish to use a single dedicated telephone handset, or would like to use your Batphone without the aid of a PC, you may be interested in a VOIP phone. Like ATAs, IP phones can vary in price, quality, and capability. Budget vendors like Grandstream offer entry-level models for low prices, while larger vendors like Cisco offer more sophisticated phones and management systems.

A basic VOIP phone will have a single line, and plug into a network via an Ethernet port. More advanced phones will support several lines, have programmable buttons, large backlit or even color displays, and are powered over Ethernet. Most VOIP phones also have switches built into them so you only need one network drop for both the IP phone and a computer. Most IP phones can be configured using a webpage, much like a

home router. There are lots of options to choose from, so it's best to consult the documents on your VOIP service provider's website for configuration options.If you are shopping for a VOIP phone, think about how you would like to use the phone. Keep in mind that most VOIP handsets are built for office use and are desktop style designs with lots of buttons. If your plans do not include long conversations, using the speaker phone for long periods of time, or using several different phone lines at once, you may not need an IP phone at all. On the other hand, if you will be spending lots of time on the phone doing businessy stuff like conference calling, maybe an IP phone is the right tool for you.