Cordless [email protected] review
Using your PC and broadband Internet connection for free Skype phone calls can save you loads. But it’s hardly convenient being tied to a computer. Fortunately, devices are starting to appear that combine conventional cordless phone technology with Skype compatibility. Linksys’ CIT200 was our first taster, but the Cordless [email protected] goes one better, combining Skype support with the ability to connect to a conventional telephone line.
Like the Linksys, the [email protected] is visually indistinguishable from a regular cordless phone. It uses the same DECT wireless standard, which isn’t as smart as Wi-Fi, but has a dependable heritage. Installation is a somewhat involved process. Once you’ve run the setup routine from the supplied CD and plugged in the USB basestation, an unfeasibly large number of USB and Human Interface Devices are detected, and a software update uploaded to the phone itself. Skype then asks whether you want the [email protected] to be associated with it, after which you’re ready to go. Connection to a regular phone line just means plugging in the wires.
With everything installed and hooked up, the [email protected] operates like a regular phone, except that it has two buttons for picking up the receiver. One has ‘PC’ written on it and will access the Skype account on your PC, while the other will operate your landline. Either can be used to answer an incoming call.
Unlike Linksys’ CIT200, the screen isn’t colour. Instead, it’s a fairly plain monochrome affair with three lines of text. Although you can access your Skype contacts list, the [email protected] isn’t as friendly as the Linksys in this respect.
Still, audio quality was fine, and since there aren’t many features on the phone itself the menu didn’t take that much getting used to. Placing a call to the Netherlands via Skype, we hardly noticed we weren’t using a landline, and true landline usage was entirely seamless. We also tried the [email protected] with Skype 2, and it worked well. You can use four handsets with the same basestation too.
Although the monochrome text-based screen is rather basic, the [email protected] is otherwise a nicely integrated device. It’s also cheaper than the Linksys and scarcely more than a regular DECT device. If you want to make your Skype usage more like normal telephony, the [email protected] could be just the ticket.