Along with Broadvox, Lingo was one of only two VoIP services that couldn't match the baseline audio quality of the other VoIP services we've tested. (We define baseline audio quality as when the VoIP service's telephone adapter (TA) is the only device sending and receiving substantial amounts of data over the local network on our tests. During these tests, the only other devices permitted to transmit and receive network traffic are the broadband modem and router.) The other VoIP services were able to maintain nearly the same audio quality you would expect from a regular analog (landline) telephone connection. With Lingo, however, on both ends of our calls, the audio sounded slightly "muddied," and we noticed minor clipping at the ends of words. (To its credit, Verizon VoiceWing's low performance score was due in part to our trouble dialing in to voicemail and the latency in connecting to a call; its baseline audio quality was comparable to that of a landline phone.)
Additionally, we heard an ever-present background noise noticeable on both ends of our calls during our tests with Lingo. The noise resembled a faint rustling. The background noise issue is one that plagued every VoIP service we've tested; however, it seemed a bit more pronounced with Lingo than with the others. For most of our calls, the noise did not adversely affect our ability to make or receive calls; but we did encounter several occasions when the background noise was so excessive that we had to hang up and try the call again.
The bundled Lingo iAN-02EX TA we tested connects to an available port on your Ethernet router, which is the most common connection scenario we saw with the TAs that came with the VoIP service subscriptions. (Some services instruct you to place the TA before your router on your home network, that is, between the modem and router.) Unfortunately, most home and small-business broadband connections don't have enough upstream throughput to support both voice and data packets. The result is that under those circumstances when you are sending large amounts of data from your PC (such as uploading photos to an online photo-finishing service), the voice quality of your call will be adversely affected. Since most broadband connections have a high enough upstream throughput, you'll likely hear the person on the other end just fine, but they will have great difficulty hearing you. We found Lingo to be more egregious than others, as sometimes entire sentences spoken by the VoIP user were broken up beyond recognition to the caller on the other end of the line. Depending on how frequently you upload files from your computer, this might not be a significant issue for you.
Lingo was the only VoIP service that didn't cause a decrease in upstream or downstream Internet data throughput speeds from our test computer while VoIP calls were taking place. On first glance, this might seem like a good thing; but it isn't--at least from a VoIP perspective. This indicates that the iAN-02EX TA is not even trying to give priority to the voice-data packets, in an attempt to minimize the loss of audio quality (commonly known as Quality of Service or QoS). This goes a long way toward explaining all of the audio quality problems we experienced. If Lingo can provide a better quality TA--one that integrates effective QoS functionality--we'd anticipate you would experience better overall audio quality.
Of the VoIP services we've tested, Lingo was one of the slowest to connect a call from the moment the last digit was pressed to the moment we heard ringing. It took Lingo between 3 and 7 seconds to make such a connectionÂ—compared to approximately 2 seconds for a traditional analog connection.
Performance analysis written by CNET Labs manager, Daniel A. Begun and lab technician Matthew Wood.
Find out more about how we test VoIP.You won't complain about Lingo's tech-support service. Subscribing gets you access to a 24/7 toll-free line for both customer service and technical support, and while the Support page offers an e-mail form, the phone numbers are featured prominently. Our calls took the form of technical difficulties in setting up the phone adapter (two calls), along with four calls related to questions about features. All were handled quickly and capably.
The 30-day money-back warranty protects you against signing up for the service only to find that it doesn't work all that well in your area code.
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