TALK TO ME

Toktumi (pronounced “talk to me”) is a combination land-line and Internet phone system for small businesses. You can make and receive either kind of call from the same standard handset you have on your desk or table.

For $19 you get software and a lightweight dongle about half the size of a packToktumi of cigarettes. The dongle weighs less than an ounce and plugs into any USB port on a PC.

The dongle has two sockets on the back for plugging in standard phone cords. One socket takes the phone line coming from your wall jack, the other handles a cord that goes directly to your phone. This gives you the option of making and receiving regular or Internet phone calls.

To make Internet calls, most of which are free or very low cost, you simply click on an icon to turn on the Toktumi software. As long as you have this software running, all your calls will be Internet calls. If you get a call on your land-line phone while you are using Toktumi, it works like call-waiting.

We found that the device and software worked as claimed, and the sound quality on Internet calls was about as good as land-line calls. Some calls we tried broke up during the conversation, but we think that has little or nothing to do with Toktumi since our experience has been that Internet calls sometimes break up no matter what you’re using. The quality of such calls seems to vary with weather conditions and the amount of Internet traffic at the time.

The Toktumi service charge is $13 a month. For this, you get a separate phone number and 10 extensions for other people in your company. Because of these extensions, those people can be called directly. You also get a voice mail selection service that can provide routing messages, such as “Press one for sales.”

A conference call feature allows up to 20 people to participate in calls from anywhere in the world. If you want to order some food or make an appointment for a haircut, a clickable feature brings up “Google Local” on your screen, which shows a list of appropriate businesses nearby.

Toktumi requires that incoming Internet phone calls be made to the special number provided with the service. We were advised that later this year you will be able to use your regular phone number as a Toktumi number as well. More information on this interesting approach to business phone systems can be found at Toktumi.com .

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