• Editors' rating
    6.0 Good


  • No software to download and install.


  • Web-based software requires insecure browser setup
  • doesn't work with BT's NAT-based ADSL service.

All VoIP software has its quirks. MediaRing's is that you have to have Netscape SmartUpdate enabled in order to use its new Web-based service. Why, the company is unable to say. There's also a downloadable software product, but MediaRing is concentrating its development on its Web-based services.

You log in using your email address and a password to gain access to the free trial service, which gives you calls to the US. To make calls beyond the free trial, you must apply for a PIN, charge up your account with at least $10 (£6.86) and use the VoizFone service.

Running the Web-based service requires you to violate most of the principles of good security: in Netscape you have to turn on SmartUpdate, while in Internet Explorer you have to enable all forms of ActiveX.

Even then, we couldn't get the service to work with any reliability. For a start, you can't use VoizFone over BT's NAT-based ADSL service. We also failed over dial-up, using a top-speed 56Kbit/s modem connection. We could hear the phone ring and the person answer, but after that neither side could hear anything. The help files identify this sort of problem as due to packet loss.

We were also unimpressed with the absence of little niceties common to the other services. MediaRing provides no way to check volume levels, for example, simply telling you to make sure they're high enough for the sound to be clear.

There are some extras, though, including integration with ICQ for its talk software, calling cards, and emailed voicemail. MediaRing also offers business services, including voice enabling Web sites, instant voice messaging, voice greeting cards, and a variety of permutations of its consumer services.

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