The type of device you choose is dependant on your usage and your home network setup.
Soft phones are a better choice when you have infrequent use and need portability, hardware phones are better if you want a replacement for a standard phone (you can always use both).
Consider this when choosing a soft phone.
- Generaly speaking hardware phones will give better speech quality than software.
- Free soft phones do not have full codec support (see which codec).
- Soft phones will be powered off/stanby with your computer so will not always be available for incoming calls.
- Generally speaking soft phones will have more advanced user interface
When choosing a hardware phone more consideration needs to be given to how your broadband connection is setup.
- If your broadband is supplied as a single ethernet port connection and this is used for your computer you will need an additional ethernet port for your phone/adapter.
- If your computer is in use at the same time as your phone you will need support for QOS (quality of service) on your router. This can be built into a telephone adapter.
- If you have an existing phone line already you might like keep a single phone for your traditional calls and broadband calls, for this you need an adapter with PSTN passthrough.
- Consider how many phone lines you require, some hardware supports this feature.
To see some typical network configurations take a look at setting up your home network.