This Youtube PhoneGnome installation video shows the process of connecting and setting up the PhoneGnome box.
- Taking it out of the box and physically connecting the PhoneGnome device
- Letting the PhoneGnome unit perform its one-time self-configuration
- Creating a "My PhoneGnome" account (a web-based control panel to manage PhoneGnome features and settings)
- Activating Voicemail-to-email
- Activating an Internet calling plan for non-free calls (PhoneGnome version of SkypeOut)
All this takes a little under 30 minutes according to the video (the video is edited down to about 4 minutes).
The PhoneGnome box connects differently than a typical VoIP service. It connects to an existing phone service to add VoIP calling and features to an existing home phone service (sort of turning an existing phone into a dual-mode phone).
The company refers to it as "augmenting" an existing line with VoIP functions. The most notable of these are:
- Free calling to PhoneGnome members (with or without the box) - this also includes SIP calls and interop with some IM systems including Gtalk, MSN, and Yahoo!
- Voicemail with Voicemail to email
- Cheap calls to non-members, domestic and international
The important difference here between PhoneGnome and other free VoIP is that calls, whether free, local, or cheap VoIP, are made dialing regular phone numbers. It's an experience with the convenience and simplicity of one phone for everything, without learning new behaviors.
In future posts, I'll go into mroe detail on the available options for "cheap calling" and introduce more of the "coolness" features PhoneGnome adds that are not talked about much around the blogs.