IT WOULD BE a major event if I wired my 80-year-old mom to the internet because she is proud to avoid computers. The computer technology in her car, oven, and television don't count because there is no keyboard for those things. She finally accepts the fact that she calls me over the internet when she dials my SkypeIn number on her cell phone. She has a mobile phone plan that makes it free to call nearby area codes so that means she reaches me in Cashel (Ireland) for free when dialing my Philadelphia number from her cell phone in the States. She credits the internet for the savings. So count mom as one of those non-geeks who use Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) without even turning on the computer.
We do much the same in Cashel. We walk around the house and around the outside border wall with a Simens DECT phone that uses BLueface to call the States for around two cents a minute. That's VoIP without any computer turned on in the house. With a broadband connection and a router, you don't need a computer to enjoy big savings and wonderful connectivity. It helps to have a computer to configure the router when it arrives from your VoIP provider but any friend with a browser can configure your router for you.
Siemens makes the Gigaset C450 IP which we saw on offer for USD 120 in New York. Its base station connects wirelessly to routers. The telephone's menu lets you pick a specific Internet provider. After that, the machine automatically makes any additional settings.
Berlin-based AVM has the Fritz! Mini which looks like an iPod, works as a portable MP3 player, but also lets you grab your e-mails and aggregated newsfeeds. All these things are wonderful ways to leverage broadband without having a computer in sight.
Images of Fritz Mini from AVM.