Do I really need another telephone? As David Pogue writes in yesterday's Times, "Every time an important piece of our lives goes electronic, much is gained, but something is lost, too." In this case, a cheaper and more flexible way of making phone calls is gained, breaking free of local telephone company taxes and surcharges. What is lost comes from the reliance on a new piece of technology which takes some setting up and (undoubtedly) will have problems more similar to your computer than your existing telephone. Nevertheless, the future is coming, and for a FIXED fee of $20-$40 a month you get tons of features and the ability to access your phone messages from anywhere via the computer (just like email). Early adopters, like my officemates at Kinja have already made the switch, so we can't all be far behind. MGR
Optimum Voice (Cablevision)
The gold rush began last year when a startup called Vonage offered a $35-a-month calling plan. Soon it was joined by a crowd of similarly little-known services with names like VoicePulse, Packet 8, Broadvox and VoiceGlo.
Recently, though, some much bigger names began taking the technology seriously: AT&T arrived on the scene last week with an Internet-based service, CallVantage, and last fall Cablevision, the cable TV company, began offering its own phone service, Optimum Voice. (Technically, Optimum Voice isn't an Internet service; it connects to the re