Thinking about ditching that landline? Are those VoIP options -- especially the free ones -- looking more and more attractive? Keynote Systems, a globally respected internet and communication testing company, has completed a ridiculously thorough investigation on the true audio quality that can be had using VoIP (within American borders), and the results are quite intriguing. To test call quality and remove human error / bias, they had automated machines in apartments nearly 3,000 miles apart call one another 125,000 times throughout the month of August, play a 30 second clip, and let an audio analyzer handle the rest. VoIP hard / soft phones, digital cable VoIP phones, and traditional landline phones were all tested and compared, only to discover that cable company-provided VoIP phones that utilized PacketCable -- an IP multimedia transmission system optimized for coax -- scored a whopping 4.24 MOS (mean opinion score), trouncing the 4.0 found in traditional phone networks. Granted, when viewing all VoIP venues, outliers were found around 2.6, which is fairly unacceptable when a 3.2 MOS is considered the "minimum" for a frustration-free conversation. All in all, landlines ranked second only to the mighty cable offerings, while hard VoIP phones (like the ATS E6501) slid in third, and "soft" services (Skype, for instance) were declared last. While we've personally had great success with the likes of Gizmo and other free internet calling alternatives, our ears certainly aren't sine wave decoders, so if you're thinking of tossing that ole rotary dialer for something with a touch more clarity, you might as well give that cable company a ring.

[Via Ars Technica]

Boy Genius drops shots of the BlackBerry 8800!