The ATA186 is an IP phone, it’s simply lacking the handset. The analog phone is used as a sound device and a dtms (frequency) sound generator for dialling the number. This handset can be anything and especially it can be cordless. The 7940 is an office phone that only shows its muscles when used with the cisco call manager server which costs the mere sum of 5000$+. One plus of the 7940/60 is the possibility to configure TWO indipendent SIP accounts. I wanted to buy this to use one line with a commercial IP telephony provider (my mantra like loved http://www.iconnecthere.com) and the other one with Freeworlddialup. But as you mention, for the streetprice of it I can get 3 ATA’s, not to mention the list price. If you want something cheap and only to be used for outbound calling when the PC is anyway turned on, you can go with a 30$ IP phone for USB. The voice encoding is then handled by the computer CPU and software. I have a pair of e-genius phones with the tigerjet chipset. They are fine for this and also perfect on the road with a portable computer. However it’s a different thing. The ATA is STANDALONE, it’s basically a small computer for VoIP only.