BuzMe, a division of RingCentral, Inc., offers a variety of
services aimed at optimizing communication for home, home office, and small
business users. BuzMe services integrate the Internet and conventional
telephony functions resulting in a variety of intriguing communication
solutions. With both Microsoft Windows and Apple MacOS support, BuzMe
provides a means of identifying and accepting incoming PSTN calls while
online, facilitates call forwarding or call pick-up, and provides a voice
mail function that can be checked via the Web, e-mail, or from any
The BuzMe client runs on various Windows versions (95, 98, NT 4.0, 2000, ME,
XP) and MacOS 7.6 and above. A sound card (for voice mail via e-mail or the
Web), 3MB disk space, and Internet access are also required. BuzMe works
with dial-up modems, cable modems, ISDN, and DSL connections. BuzMe requires
Netscape 4.0 and above, Internet Explorer 4.01 and above, America Online 4.0
and above, or a CompuServe 2000 browser.
BuzMe also requires several services of the local Telco to operate: Call
Forwarding on Busy (CFB), Call Forwarding No Answer (CFNA), and CallerID.
Depending upon the Telco, a small monthly charge may apply for these
features. According to BuzMe it can take the phone company from three to
seven business days to get these features installed on your line.
Installing the BuzMe software is accomplished through a simple Internet
download. Potential customers can fill out the short online application from
the Web site (www.buzme.com) to expedite
use of the service. This grants access to the downloadable version of the
desktop application. This one-megabyte self-executable file provides call
control and the user interface. After exiting all programs, accepting the
service agreement, and choosing the installation path, the installation is
nearly complete. Once the files are in the newly created RingCentral
directory, the BuzMe pager appears in both the lower corner of the userï¿½s
PC screen and as an icon in the System Tray.
BuzMe Online: Allows users to check voice mail by phone, takes
messages while online, provides incoming call notification (while online),
and access to voice mail via the Web. Users can choose whether they want to
accept a call, reply to a call by typing a response to the caller transposed
by a TTS engine, or send the call to voice mail. BuzMe Online can store up
to ten, 45-second messages for up to seven days.
BuzMe Plus: Provides voice mail services while online or offline;
notifies user of new messages via e-mail, pager, or cell phone (via SMS
service); keeps a detailed log of incoming calls in addition to features
listed above. BuzMe Plus can store up to 15 one-minute messages for up to 14
BuzMe Voice Mail: Takes messages while on or offline; check
messages by phone and Web; notifies user of new messages via e-mail, pager,
or cell phone (via SMS service); keeps a detailed log of incoming calls
At the time this article was written, TMC Labs learned of two forthcoming
additions to the BuzMe lineup: BuzMe Basic and BuzMe Pro. BuzMe Basic is
planned as a free service with a scaled down feature set including
incoming-call notification, in addition to the Ignore and Reply features,
which we will discuss shortly. Call log and pre-recorded message options
will also be included. BuzMe Pro targets business users with find me/follow
me capability as well as call screening and fax functionality. BuzMe Pro is
scheduled for release sometime in May, according to a RingCentral
RingCentral provided TMC Labs with a BuzMe Plus account in addition to a
phone number already equipped with the necessary call-forwarding features to
expedite our tests. If using dial-up, before logging onto the Internet you
must disable Call Waiting.
Once logged on to the Internet with the BuzMe pager enabled, the user is
notified of any new messages via the GUI. Additionally, the pager primarily
serves to notify a user of incoming calls as they arrive, while providing
the means to identify and then accept or reject the caller. Accessing the
call log required nothing more than clicking on the pagerï¿½s button by the
Through the GUI it is also possible to accept calls at phone numbers
other than your home phone. The Accept Call tab allows users to input up to
five phone numbers theyï¿½d like the call routed to if they decide to accept
it via the user interface. This is not a find-me, or follow-me type feature,
quite the contrary, this is where BuzMe comes into its own. With a username
and password already established, a subscriber need only input them on BuzMeï¿½s
Download page to receive a second client. Logging onto the client from work
for example, allows subscribers to screen calls, check voice mail and answer
their home phoneï¿½s incoming calls with call control features such as
Accept, Reply, Ignore, and Send To Voice Mail, if desired.
Reply and Ignore were especially interesting features in that Reply
allows you to select from a small list of pre-emptive responses: ï¿½Will
Call You Back In,ï¿½ ï¿½Call Me Back inï¿½ï¿½ (for which you can enter a
time in minutes or hours), ï¿½Iï¿½m On My Way,ï¿½ or Other, which allows you
to type any response about 18 words in length or less. All of these
responses are played in real time via a Text-To-Speech (TTS) engine to the
caller. Once the response is conveyed, the caller has the option of
responding via an audio menu and a phoneï¿½s DTMF digits. The Ignore feature
dismisses the caller without granting access to leave a voice message.
If the caller is sent to voice mail, clicking the button appropriately
titled ï¿½Messages,ï¿½ on the GUI links users to their password-protected
voice mail page. Here, subscribers can view call statistics and listen to
messages. The page can also be reached directly from the BuzMe Web site.
BuzMe subscribers are entitled to the additional functionality of forwarding
and replying by voice among themselves (without the use of the phone). A
subscriber must have a microphone attached to their sound card for
utilization of this feature.
ROOM FOR IMPROVEMENT
For the most part BuzMeï¿½s GUI and service exuded quality of design and
function in our opinion. Still, we found a few things weï¿½d have done
differently. For example, when using the local Call Log it wasnï¿½t possible
to sort the columns for the purpose of expediting a search. While this may
seem almost inconsequential for voice, our messages and calls stacked up
fast; we would welcome this addition to the GUI.
Though the Reply feature is generally welcome, we found it somewhat
limiting when trying to ascertain who was calling, should the ANI
information not be available or be recognized. An audible announce caller
feature is really what we were looking for: A prompt that asks the caller to
state their name, or state their name and company for business purposes.
Forwarding the callerï¿½s voice via VoIP to the desktop thereby giving users
the information to make a more definitive choice to accept or reject the
call would have further enhanced this service. That would really be the most
powerful tool we could think of in terms of providing users with all of the
information to make call-control decisions.
Many rural communities today still do not have the option of end-user,
broadband Internet access. Further, many users today donï¿½t require this
pricey service to perform fundamental Internet tasks relevant to their jobs
when working from home, or spending hours online researching for school
projects. In our opinion, BuzMe provides relief to dial-up modem users
allowing PSTN communication to persist while online, and unlike newer modems
with built-in voice mailboxes, BuzMe offers the option of call control.
Supplying a GUI that allows users to observe ANI information, and a Reply
feature to aid in gathering additional information about the caller, or
communicate a short message without disturbing the Internet connection
provide subscribers with additional flexibility. Though we mentioned a few
areas for possible improvement, our examination of the service proved it a
worthy and economical alternative to a second phone line.
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