|USB Cordless DUALPhone|
Product description: Advanced IP telephone with built-in POTS and Skype VoIP service access capabilities; one base station supports up to four handsets.
Class: Small office/home office communications, suitable for home, home office or small remote office situations.
Cost: Retail pricing is $139.99 at the dualphone-us.com online shopping page (not yet available through third-party retailers).
You'll love this product if: you need a compact, do-it-all cordless Skype/POTS handset.
You won't if: more than four handsets or support for multiple POTS lines is needed (each base station supports a maximum of four handsets and only one POTS line).
Home or small office/branch office users might find the cordless DUALPhone for Skype of great interest. This cordless handset works with a conventional POTS line, but also works with a USB 2.0 link to place and receive calls using the Skype VoIP service through an Internet-connected Windows PC running Windows 2000, XP or 2003.
While its list price of about $140 may seem a bit steep, you get a lot of functionality for the money, for about $70-100 more than what you'd pay for a similar POTS-only cordless phone with a full-featured set of VoIP capabilities. And of course, because you can also use the SkypeIn and SkypeOut services to receive and place calls from phones outside the Skype service, this provides a pretty complete phone solution for SOHO users.
This phone has a wealth of features and functions that include the following, among many others. See the DUALPhone features page for complete details.
- Support for up to four handsets for each base station (but so far, you can't buy handsets sans base station -- at least not as far as I can tell) with call transfer and intercom calling between handsets
- Simultaneous handling of POTS and VoIP calls on the same handset (or on two handsets, through the same base station)
- Caller ID (CLIP) and call waiting, 9 selectable ring tones, 30-entry redial and incoming call lists, 160 entry phone book, handset and base station updatable through USB interface (phone updated its firmware as soon as we plugged it in)
- Uses Digital Enhanced Cordless Telecommunications standard (DECT), 1.9 GHz: does not interfere with Wi-Fi, operates up to 150 feet from base station indoors, 1000 feet outdoors
- Talk time up to 6.5 hours, standby time up to 100 hours (Ni-MH battery pack should support 250-300 recharges, and should thus last at least one year, if not longer)
- Handset special features include wideband audio (16 kHz audio sampling), removable color faceplate, backlit two-line 16-character character display, belt clip, standard headset jack (worked fine with my cellphone headset), pager button to find misplaced handsets (very handy)
The Skype service provides its own internal directory and access services, in addition to conventional VoIP message-handling and call-forwarding services, so together the phone and the service make a nice combination.
The DUALPhone is absurdly easy to configure, install and deploy, provided you've already got a Skype account, or are willing to take up to five minutes to sign up and handle the confirmation e-mail you'll receive to finish that process. Because it aims at a specific service (Skype), the phone essentially bypasses provisioning issues altogether, making it suitable for use in small office/home situations. In essence, the phone creates a total "plug-and-call" solution right out of the box.
Ed Tittel is a regular contributor to numerous TechTarget Web sites, and the author of over 100 books on a wide range of computing subjects from markup languages to information security. He's also a contributing editor for Certification Magazine , and edits Que Publishing's Exam Cram 2 and Training Guide series of cert prep books. E-mail Ed at firstname.lastname@example.org.