The hype over internet telephony software such as Skype is doing little to benefit sales of equipment designed to work with such programs, hardware manufacturers in Taiwan say. Though Skype has achieved more than 100 million downloads, sales of gear created to work with the program have done poorly - primarily because the equipment is annoying to configure. True, sales are growing, but this is off a low base as the sector is just getting started. 'I don't think [VoIP] is a really big trend,' said Murray Huang, a spokesman at C-Media, which makes audio controller chips for VoIP phones. One problem is that in order for one IP device to talk to another, it needs to know where and how to find it. It is very easy to make a VoIP call if you know the IP address of the recipient's phone - it is a static address that never changes. But this is assuming the recipient has a VoIP phone in the first place, and that it is plugged in, turned on and not behind a firewall or router. Skype solves a lot of these problems by acting as the middle man, helping users register to the network, and helping your friends find you even if your IP address changes or you are behind a firewall. Skype also offers a 'SkypeOut' service which allows users to dial to traditional phones, for a fee. But so far, Skype requires users to have their PC turned on and the Skype messenger running. Many products on offer from Taiwanese manufacturers allow users to bypass a PC and act like an ordinary phone, but they still require some kind of middle-man registration server to be at all convenient. The message vendors are hearing from inquiring customers is that saving a few dollars on phone calls is not worth the trouble of buying equipment and working out how to use it. 'Easy installation is most important. If it's too complicated then the customer will not accept it,' said Jim Yeh, spokesman for ArtDio, which makes VoIP phones and servers. Some hardware makers such as ArtDio are providing servers free of charge or at low cost in order to drive sales. One of the packages ArtDio offers includes a VoIP connection and server that allows businesses to make use of a normal PABX phone. This provides a simple interface that every office worker is familiar with. 'The end user doesn't need knowledge - they just need a phone,' Mr Yeh said. But while VoIP has yet to really take off, IP-based surveillance systems which combine the features of both closed-circuit TV and webcams are gaining traction. These systems are not necessarily any easier to use than VoIP but they are passive, meaning users simply log on to watch. 'The reason it's taking off is because it's very simple now,' said J.P. Yang, deputy sales manager at Vivotek, which makes IP-based cameras. 'Previously, if you wanted remote surveillance, it was very expensive and very complicated. Now you just need the internet.' With an IP-cam, a simple CCTV camera converts images for sending over the IP protocol. From any web browser, you can log in and see what the camera is seeing. All that is required is that the camera is connected to the internet. Connection to virtual private networks provides convenience and security. Like VoIP, what is needed is some kind of middle man, a dynamic domain name server, for example, that allows users to find a surveillance camera on the web. Taiwanese company Sercom said it was shipping 10,000 units monthly of its IP-based video cameras. Latest models from companies such as Vivotek and Sercom feature pan, tilt, zoom and even microphone functions. Taking the whole product line a step further is 3J Tech, which has developed sensing equipment that detects sound, motion and even smoke.