A pent house suite in Mayfair and an establishment in the heart of Soho were the locations for a couple of press briefings that dealt with initiatives designed to entice users to expand their mobile experience. Dragging my weary bones through the thoroughfares of London, as it basked in an unseasonably warm spell, I attended both events.
It should come as no surprise, with the wide spread influence of mobile communications, that two separate companies made announcements regarding their services within a twenty-four hour period. What is slightly more surprising is that both these announcements relate to partnership deals with established hardware or software service providers.
The first is described as an easy mobile phone with SMS ideal for those with poor sight. The second is a Wi-Fi phone giving low cost calls via Wireless Lan or Wi-Fi. These two show that Doro are not just a home/office phone company.
This phone has a rubberised finish and gives the immediate impression that it would withstand the odd knock or three. It is black and 10.5x5.5x1.5cm it weights 92grams. The screen is 3.6x2.7cm. There are 15 keys below the screen with the numeric keys being 1.5x.8cm and the top row (answer, return and hang up) being even larger at 1.5x1.2cm. The screen can display up to eight lines of text that is very clear and easy to read.
Neither of which is via a PC however both require an Ethernet connection, the first the Belkin Ethernet Skype Phone is wired and the second the Philips VOIP 841 has a wireless link to its base station that connects to the router.
This looks exactly like a standard office phone. Looks are deceiving as it is a Skype phone and unlike most other Skype phones needs just one thing an Ethernet port. It is not wireless but wired and probably because of that sound to the caller and receiver is excellent. It is 15cm tall, 18cm wide and 3cm thick. However the phone sits at 45degrees making its display very clear on your desk. The handset is 17x4.5x3cm max and this sits on the left side of the unit.
While 3G handsets, such as the iPhone and Blackberry, tend to have high price tags, there is a company that believes it is possible to offer a range of internet-based features via 3G on a more economic basis.
As part of the Hutchison Whampoa Limited family, 3 (the company responsible for launching the UK’s first 3G network offering national coverage for calls and text) has a habit of selecting slightly unusual locations when launching its various products.
Nomophobia, the fear of having no mobile connectivity, is not a complaint that should affect those with the WP-SI device (hereafter referred to as the Skype phone) from 3.
This product brings together Skype capabilities with those of a 3G mobile phone in a single unit. While the white and blue colour scheme adopted by this device might not be to everybody's taste, other aspects of this mobile phone are more appealing. Measuring 100 x 44 x 13.6mm and weighing 86g, this Skype phone is of the candy bar style.
There are lots of VOIP and Skype phones out there and without the supplied software this is just another (albeit stylish) phone. However add the software and the phone is no longer a dummy.
This Lindy USB Skype handset is a two piece offering black predominately with a red stripe down each side of the top part and a red underneath for the base part. It can be wall mounted or sit on your desk. The base is a maximum of 18x5.5x3.5cm (there is a 1cm difference between the front and the back. The top part is 18x4x1cm and slightly curved so it feels good when up to the ear.
While the camera itself is tiny the headset that comes with it is of a conventional size. If you want to see the other party while talking on Skype video conferencing this could be for you.
To use the USR Mini Cam for Skype your PC will need to be running SP2 of XP or later. You will need a spare USB port for the camera and two audio sockets for the headset one for the microphone and the other for the speaker. The headset comes with 2.1metres of lead so providing you are near to a PC it should be okay. The mini cam has 1.7metres of lead certainly enough to fix on or near the monitor/panel.
This is a two in one phone meaning that you can make and receive calls like any landline offering but it can also make and receive Skype calls, it even includes three months of free Skype in calls.
This cordless phone from US Robotics (USR) is stated to have ten hours of talktime and one hundred hours in standby. Do not be put off by the array of cables when you open the box. The five pages in English at the start of the Quick Installation Guide make most things clear and the only problem I had was physically switching the phone off - I do not mean ending a call - as this was not described correctly.
Adding a face-to-face capability to Skype calls requires a web cam such as the one from US Robotics.
Following the release of its USB telephone adapter that allows Skype calls to be made from a normal telephone, US Robotics has now ventured into the field of Internet video with its Mini Cam for Skype product. Now, not only can you make free or reduced rate calls using the popular Skype service, you can also view the person at the other end of the connection in all their glory or otherwise as the case may be.
This has one clever plus on the large range of Skype phones, to use this the PC does not need to be turned on. So provided you have a wireless router thats it.
The is 11.5x5x2cm and looks exactly like a chunky mobile phone. The weight is close to 100grams and the rubberised exterior says it could survive the odd drop onto the carpet. Belkin WiFi phone for Skype It has 16 buttons plus the ubiquitous joystick. Above these is a 3.6x3cm clear a bright display.
The advantage of Skype communication can be enhanced with the use of an appropriate product such as a cordless handset.
VoIP (Voice over IP) technology has been around for a good few years now but it has taken initiatives such as Skype to really kick-start its popular acceptance. Skype was founded by Niklas Zennstrm and Janus Friis in 2003. Distributed as free software, this product provided users with the ability to make superior-quality calls using a computer connected to the Internet.
I use Skype for talking to both friends and increasingly to business people who add their Skype details to business cards. Here I can roam while talking.
Even if you only use Skype on an occasional basis then this 'phone' is excellent. Unlike other units - both corded and cordless - the allows you to answer and make calls when not near your PC. Yes the PC needs to be on and Skype needs to be loaded but that's all.
Continuing to push the boundaries of keyboard/mouse functionality, Logitech has come up with a VoIP enhancement.
It was an easy call to select the next item for review. Actually it was a that was to become the centre of attention. The desktop element of this particular product's title refers to the keyboard and optical mouse while the EasyCall appendage relates to a module which combines a wireless receiver unit and speakerphone. A headset and sixty minutes of free international calls via Skype are included in this package.
Available desk space is at a premium in my working environment yet recently I have made room for a devil of a creature.
Currently sitting on my workspace is a Verball. Initially this was a little red devil with bulging eyes; a pair of yellow horns positioned either side of a Mohican hair cut; outstretched arms with four fingered hands; and a pair of bother-boots encasing its feet. This is not a distant relative, or even a close one, that I have been keeping quiet about instead it is Striker, a member of the Verball tribe.
If you use Skype or some other VOIP communication then you have probably tried a microphone/speakers setup and other combinations however only a phone gives that real phone experience.
I can only talk about the experience from a Skype users point of view as I do not use any of the other VOIP products but reading the instructions I am lead to believe it will be much the same. This solution needs either a Windows 2000 or Windows XP system. If you already have Skype installed just plug the phone into a USB port - either USB 1.1 or USB 2 - and after a few seconds it will probably say installed but you need a reboot.
Is it worth getting a handset to use with Skype? What are the advantages? Would I buy one again? Heres my experience with the Cyberphone K from VoIP Voice.
My on using for my office phone service covered my experience actually getting a phone equivalent without forking out for a new BT line! The result of that investigation lead me to become a happy Skype customer, despite initially trying to go with a standards based solution! previous article Skype Having got my combined SkypeIn/Out service I needed to decide how to use it.
Skype while being very popular attacts some poor press from those that suggest people should us 'standards based' VoIP products. One real users perspective!
I've recently vacated the 'third bedroom' office to take up the kind offer of a desk with a local company I know on very reasonable terms and to the delight of my 8 year old daughter who *finally* gets her own room! The only snag was they had no spare phone lines, but were more than happy to share their broadband access.
Want an extra phone line? There are many ways of getting one apart from the more obvious BT or cable phone services. Broadband is one such candidate.
The promotion of VOIP has in no small part been promoted by Skype and others who allow Free calls computer to computer, but the quality is not always as good as that from a phone and there are problems, you both need to be at a computer and you could not call anyone on a normal phone line. This last problem was solved in the case of Skype by 'Skype Out' where for only a small charge you could ring a normal phone.
Last November I discovered Skype at version 0.97, it worked well but as with the 'Chicken and the Egg' problem not all that many users. This week Skype for the first time notched one million concurrent users.
Version 1 launched in the early summer and I now spend more time on Skype for no cost than I do using the phone. All you need is the free Skype software, download time from around one minute. Probably another minute to complete the installation and maybe as long to create a basic profile. www.skype.com To run Skype on a PC you need a microphone and some speakers.