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Skype PhonesMove away from crummy headsets
Skype users rejoice. No longer are you confined to using those cheap headsets you buy at the local Wal-Tar-Co. What you need is something that looks like a real phone. CES 2006 had companies unveiling Skype phones left and right. Here is a sampling of some we saw.
If you havent tried Skype, then you belong with the Lost Boys in Never Never Land. Skype is one of the most popular free voice over IP (VoIP) applications out there. With the ability to place phone calls to anyone else in the world without paying long distance fees, users are scrambling to download and install this application. But wearing a headset connected to your computer makes you look rather goofy sometimes, and the short cable lengths keep you tethered to your desk.
IPEVO has released two new pseudo-phones to work with Skype. The first is the Fly-1 a cordless handset that looks like your everyday phone. This phone is very light and allows you to access all of your contacts with the handy scroll wheel.
If you are more of a hands free conference call kind of guy, then you need to check out IPEVOs other offering Xing. Designed for business users who are looking to save a few dollars in their telecom bill, Xing is another light and portable USB device to work exclusively with Skype. It can sit on your desk and take up valuable real estate or hang on the wall not quite the fly that most would hope.
Finally, IPEVO has updated their Free-1 Skype phone to be compatible with the Mac. Now Apple lovers can be just like their PC cousins and pick up the phone whenever they want to place free internet calls. The Free-1 is available now for $29.99, the other two models will be available Q1 06.
If IPEVO doesnt do it for you, then you might want to consider the Linksys CIT200, which made its debut in October of last year. Even though this is a wireless handset, it will not interfere with your 2.4GHz phone or other wireless devices.
The small LCD screen gives you access to your contact list, and with Skypes premium service, which is quite affordable, you can access your voice mail, receive calls via traditional land line and more. The CIT200 is currently PC and Mac compatible and sells for $130.
Netgear WiFi Skype Phone
Unlike most of the phones on this list, the Netgear WiFi Skype phone doesnt require you to connect to a PC to use. Instead, anywhere there is a wireless access connection, you can use the WiFi phone. This not only includes your home or office wireless network. It also will work in a hotspot at your local café, airport, or any other wireless access point world wide.
The phone is preloaded with Skype, so all you need to do is enter your login and password to get started. As with any Skype call, calls placed to other users are free, but with the SkypOut feature you can place phone calls to any number in the world. The Netgear phone is expected to drop in the first quarter of this year. No word on price.
US Robotics USB Skype Speakerphone
Another speakerphone comes to market this month (January) from US Robotics. This speakerphone works like other desktop hands free devices, but US Robotics has included echo cancellation technology to prevent any feedback from happening.
?Compared to other devices on the market today, the USRobotics speakerphone maintains exceptional voice quality in a small, easy to carry unit, says Rizwan Akbar, USRobotics product manager. ?You normally wouldnt expect a speakerphone with this sound quality to be this portable.
US Robotics is targeting the business traveler and families separated around the world and is making free long distance phone calls affordable for only $49.99.
The Japanese company Elecom showed off their ?Skype to Go USB phone at the 2006 Consumer Electronics Show. The BT-MG2 has 64MB of built in flash memory, 40MB User storage, and comes with the Skype software preloaded. The BT-MG2 even supports Bluetooth. Even though it is connected to your computer, there is nothing to install on the PC. This phone is targeted for an April 2006 US, but no price has been announced.
Speaking of Bluetooth, the Motorola Wireless Internet Calling Kit makes you look futuristic and price conscious at the same time. Harnessing the power of Bluetooth, this phone fits neatly around the ear using the H500 Bluetooth headset, then connects to your computer via the PC850 PC adapter. In your office or in the home, you are free to move around and make those free phone calls whenever you want. This kit is shipping now for $99.99.
Many more phones are now available for Skype users. For a complete list of currently available Skype certified devices, check out the Skype website at www.skype.com.
Stephen Schleicher is a well known writer, visual effects artist and media guru! You can see more of Stephen at
www.majorspoilers.com and www.stephenschleicher.com
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