VoIP is a technology that allows users to tap into the IP network to make voice calls, using devices that are based on this technology, typically called IP phones or VoIP phones.
VoIP phones tend to fall into one of two very broad types: hardphones or softphones. Hardphones are tangible devices that sit next to a desktop or laptop. They are similar to analog PSTN phones, but they connect to the IP network of the home or business instead of a telephone line. Softphones, on the other hand, are applications that can be installed on a PC or a laptop. A softphone comes with dialing pads similar to that of cell phones, and users have to key in the numbers on this dial pad to make calls.
The big question is: which of the two is better? The answer to this question depends on the needs and expectations of the users, because both come with their own sets of advantages and disadvantages. The hardphone, for example, is always connected to the IP network, even if the computer is shut down or in repair. Another advantage of hard phone is that it is easy to use, and does not require computer knowledge. Furthermore, voice calls tend to be clear with hardphones, because they have a dedicated voice processor, and do not have to share their resources with other applications.
Softphones, on the other hand, give great flexibility for users who travel because they can always access their IP phone through their laptop. Moreover, it is cheaper than hard phones and does not require extensive installation because it does not require a dedicated instrument.
In short, both types of IP phone have their pros and cons, so it ultimately depends on the personal preferences of the user.
Edited by Alisen Downey