It’s not new, it’s not a phone that you can check email on, indeed you can’t even receive or send skype IM messages, so in a world surrounded by ever increasing mobile complexity, you have to ask….. why buy this phone?
Valid question, skype has just been released for the Apple iphone, the iphone demonstration I heard was impressive. Obviously you can also use skype on your computer, plug in a headset and off you go. So again why buy this feature poor device?
Being an early adopter of skype I’ve used it on various versions of windows and also linux (by the way can someone from skype please update the linux port, many thanks). I’ve grown tired of being ‘tethered’ to my desktop tower or the laptop to use skype. With a cable trailing over the desk getting in the way when on a call, threatening to relocate my mug of tea……
Not wanting to invest in the cheap usb skype devices with their limitations. Avoiding an issue of the skype connection ringing just when I need to reboot or happen to have various windows open across my desktop for graphics, documents and my email using up precious resources.
The iphone is tempting, but doesn’t fit my requirements. Justification of a phone contract or one off iphone charge for a pay as you go package, forking out the amount for a device I just won’t use to it’s full potential. So when researching and reading reviews I realised the old Belkin Skype Phone might be just the answer, but was it?
A few auctions later and I purchased my new phone. Only to discover it turned up not booting up properly. A great start! Two firmware upgrades later and a heart bypass, it was working. I installed the firmware via usb using a Windows XP laptop.
Straight away seeing wifi networks, but what about my network that doesn’t broadcast it’s SSID? No problem I was able to manually type in the details on the keypad, whilst silently cursing myself for having a very long SSID and password. WPA-PSK no problem (other options ‘open’ or WEP, which should probably be classified as ‘open’ also) and smoothly connected to my mixed 802.11b/g network. The ability to assign a static IP and port is available, though I have not tried yet.
I used it at two different WPA-PSK private wifi locations that so far and it happily choose the correct pre-configured access point without any issues. Dare I say… I even left my desk and took the phone with me across to the other side of the building, thus providing more flexibility as the wifi signal works there also.
Although I wouldn’t say the call quality is brilliant, I am aware there are many factors that can contribute to that. However I’ve experience ‘mobile call’ level quality, which has been fine. It’s working with my skypeIn account also and the accompanying answer service.
So will this connect with public free wifi? The phone does not offer browser based authentication. So I couldn’t take advantage of free wifi. However before I purchased I realised I wasn’t too bothered by this. Although it would have been a very nice feature, it is not critical to my work.
I believe the device can work with Boingo and the Cloud, however I don’t have an account with either, so can’t tell you that for certain. Would be interested to receive comments from those who have used it with either or others services, if any are available.
So what else can it do? Well not much more… I can change my status. However you can’t use it for skype IM text chat, which is a shame. What about skypeOut? Well I don’t use it, so never bothered to see if the device can. Sorry. Also I’m not sure if you can use this device in a skype conference call, I don’t believe I can initiate these and perhaps even participate using this device. If you have please leave a comment.
So where does this review leave you? Well it’s a basic device, it won’t fit everybody’s requirements. However for the price (I paid around £50) and my requirements, it suits my needs ‘almost’ exactly. Only wishing it could cope with Skype’s IM text service.
No more headphone cables, no more worrying about firewall settings on my computer or whether I’ve got too many programs running already. It sits there on my desk and I can charge it via a usb cable to a computer or a power supply adapter.
Want to find out more? Try: http://www.belkin.com/uk/skype/howitworks/ to begin with. There are other skype devices not made by belkin that can do wifi or suit other requirements such as sharing pstn and wifi into one device. However I highly recommend you do your homework and read other reviews before you purchase, otherwise could be a costly mistake if not for you.
Happy to answer any questions via comments.