I have wanted the Belkin Wi-Fi Phone for Skype ($179.99) from the moment they were first announced. Prudence (& cash flow) dictated that I wait until they had ironed out any teething issues, so it is only now that I have got one.
I have written about my use of Skype before but I want to explain it again to put this phone into context.
We use Skype very much as a day to day communication option. By that I mean that we have a UK SkypeIn number and a US SkypeIn number and keep Skype running all the time so that we can receive calls to these numbers. To date this has involved keeping a computer running all the time with a cordless Skype phone connected.
In addition I have the MyAppleStuff Skype account which I use for specific, scheduled activities. I don’t keep it open all the time.
We also have an account that we use just for friends and family who have Skype AND want to video call. This account is open on the Desktop PC whenever the Desktop is powered up, and more often than not on the iMac when that is in use. Both of these computers have ‘proper’ skype phones attached as neither of us like making phone calls with a headset. I can live with it when I am recording interviews, but I much prefer a normal phone experience. Can’t be doing with the internal microphone and speakers option either!
The concept of the Belkin phone is ideal. We have the account that is associated with the two SKypeIn numbers logged in all the time. I had wanted to use just the one account so that we could be logged in on the Belkin and the Desktop/iMac but that isn’t an option. While you can actually still log into your Skype account on a computer while connected to Skype through the Belkin, only the Belkin rings so in reality (and as the instructions say) you can only really be logged into your account on the Belkin and not a computer at the same time. This is fine, but a little disappointing for us as it means we need the second ‘friends and family’ account which can get a little confusing.
Anyway, how good is the phone? I really like it. The battery life is more than adequate, it is light and well designed. The screen is a little small compared to mobile/cell phones in this day and age, but it is clear and good enough. The buttons aren’t as responsive as they could be, especially when switching between letters and numbers when entering data.
Connection to the Wi-Fi network is very easy, and once you have a number of preferred networks set up it will automatically connect to the one that it detects. There is a tendency for occasional echo during the call, but that is more a ‘function’ of a skype call using any phone rather than a headset than it is this phone. I know as we now have three skype phones in use!
The ringtones are terrible. The volume is fine but they sound really bad!! If the phone actually rang much I would have to buy a new one. In fact ringjacker looks pretty interesting, although I am not sure I would want people setting the ringtone that I got when they rang me?
We use the Belkin primarily in the Apartment, but it works fine on friends home Wi-Fi networks, and our regular restaurant and bar here happens to be the only one in the area with free Wi-Fi which is handy. It has ‘frozen’ a couple of times but overall I am really pleased with the phone, particularly the flexibility that it gives us. It is a little basic e.g. no speed dialing, and it isn’t possible to IM with it, but as our prime need is for a phone that isn’t too much of a problem.
Thanks Mum – it was a gift from her!!