When most people think about using Skype, they probably envision a nerd with a headset sitting in front of his computer. Â Skype isÂ primarily a computer-to-computer internet telephony product, but there are a few options for using your Skype service on more traditional handsets.
I have evaluated the VOIP841 from PhilipsÂ before and was overall happy with the device, minus the OK audio quality. Â However,Â recentlyÂ I heard about and received IPEVO’s new Wi-Fi Skype handset for review.
This little unit is as small as most candybar mobile phones and contains the Wi-Fi chip directly in the handset. Â Contrary to the Philips VOIP841, which requires a separate base station along with the handset,Â everythingÂ with the IPEVO phone is housed on the handset itself. Â
This means you can take the IPEVO phone and use it wherever you can get a Wi-Fi signal for free Skype calls and ridiculously cheap calls to traditional landlines and mobile phones.
Opening the Box
First impressions with the IPEVO Wi-Fi Skype phone are postive. Â The black handset has a bright and readable screen and well-sized buttons that are used to navigate the handsets traditional Skype menus. Â Anyone familiar with the Skype user interface on a PC or Mac will easily be able to adapt IPEVOs implementation of them on the Skype phone.
The Skype handset takes about 4-5 hours to charge and after doing so, you are ready to assign the device to your wireless network and start making and receiving Skype phone calls.
On my home wireless network, I employ WPA-PSK encryption. Â When I tried to utilize the phone’s wizard interface to join my Wi-Fi network, it had issues and would not properly connect. Â As a result, I had to manually select my home network and enter in the security setting and details by hand. Â After successfully joining the network, the phone prompts you to log in to your Skype account.
With the IPEVO device, you can either sign into your existing Skype account or create a new one directly on the handset without having to log into Skype on a computer. Â I thought this was a nice little feature.
One note about the IPEVO Skype phone: if you have special characters in your Skype or Wireless password, it is a little tricky to figure out how to input these into the phone. Â When you press the pound key, aka #, you are presented an on-screen menu with all the special characters you might have in your passcodes.
Usage and Performance
The IPEVO Skype phone is quite easy to use, especially after you are set up on your wireless network and signed into Skype on the phone. Â Upon signing in, your Skype contact list is available and shows your contacts’ presence information. Â Like the Philips VOIP841, from the IPEVOs home screen, you press the “Contacts” button to load your contacts for easy dialing. Â The homescreen also displays the current local time, the current user name that is logged in, and the current Skype balance.
The call quality with the Â IPEVO Skype WiFi phone was outstanding for a handset. Â My callers were very audible to me, in fact, they were clearer and louder than when I called them with the VOIP841, for comparison. Â Callers said I sounded great as well. Â This was true for both Skype-to-Skype calls and Skype to landline/mobile calls as well.
While call quality was good, battery life left a lot to be desired. Â I found that with moderate usage and keeping the phone powered on, the IPEVO device could only stay powered on for about 5 hours. Â
This is understandable, considering the IPEVO has the power-hungry Wi-Fi chipset on board the device, but this poor battery life is something to keep in mind if you are a heavy Skype user who needs a handset that will last a considerable amount of time.
Overall, the IPEVO Skype Wi-Fi phone is an attractive, feature rich handset that makes great sounding calls. Â Anyone who wants to be able to talk to their Skype contacts or make/receive very inexpensive Skype calls should consider this device for a purchase. Â Having Skype on a handset like this really makes Skype no different than a normal cordless phone for regular dialing.
One important note: if you have areas of your house that have weak Wi-Fi signal quality, this specific phone won’t work in those areas. Â The IPEVO handset does have a Wi-Fi signal indicator, but I noticed choppy calls in rooms that are far away from my wireless router.
The IPEVO Skype Wi-Fi handset is Skype Certified and is available for around $130 at various Intetnet-based retailers.