Video Phone Pros & Cons

Written by noel shankel
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Video Phone Pros & Cons
Video phones allow you to physically see the person with whom you're speaking. (Dynamic Graphics Group/Dynamic Graphics Group/Getty Images)

Science-fiction movies often introduce technology that seems amazing but soon becomes a reality. The video phone, which you can use on a smartphone or at home on a computer screen, continues to alter the way in which we communicate. Although there are numerous advantages, video phone disadvantages do exist.

Visual Contact

One video phone advantage is the ability to chat face-to-face with loved ones, family members and friends. Although traditional phones allow you to speak to a loved one, this is sometimes not enough. Those with family members situated overseas or a long distance away can actually see their faces while talking, easing the burden of the long distance relationship. Businesses can use video phones for conference calls, ensuring that everyone is on the same page and paying attention during important meetings. Of course, not everyone wants to be seen during a phone call, especially those who have just woken up or are not fully dressed. If video calling is your only form of communication, this could be a problem.

Communication Breakdown

Video phones require a broadband Internet connection or Wi-Fi connection to operate properly. Any video phone user can connect with another video phone user anywhere in the world, free of charge. Long distance rates don't apply. Just like e-mailing, you can contact friends from across the globe or across the room for the same price. However, the Internet isn't free. If your Internet connection is slow, this will lead to jerky video calls with a poor frame rate. If your Internet connection fails, or if you're in an area with no Wi-Fi connection, you can't use the video phone. A poor Internet connection can also lead to voice distortion, making callers sound muffled or hard to hear. In short, the reliability of the video phone is based on the reliability of your Internet service.

Numbers and Features

Those who use traditional phones -- especially landlines -- are often charged extra for added features such as call waiting, caller ID and voicemail. These features and more come standard with video phones, saving you money. Of course, if the only reason you have a phone is to place calls, these features become meaningless. The phone number you receive with your video phone, known as a virtual number, is portable, much like a cellphone's number. This means that if you move across the street, or across the country, people can still contact you at the same number.

Complicated Emergency

Traditional phones, such as landlines, and cellphones both use equipment that can trace your call in the event of an emergency after calling 911. This feature allows help to be contacted without the need of speaking, which in an emergency could be hard to do. Video phones, however, lack this feature, forcing you to verbally state your address in the event of an emergency. Video phones transfer data between IP addresses, preventing the 911 operator from locating your position. Companies are currently working to fix this problem, but as of 2011, 911 calls made on video phones can't be traced.

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