philips-skype-phone-

Until recently I had one phone line, my cell phone. A few months ago I discovered the downside of my ‘plan to simplify’ in the form of a $130 phone bill. You see, since I started focusing full time on Gadgetreview I’ve been gabbing away and burning through my roll over minutes. Me, the talker that I am, didn’t even bother to look at how much time I was consuming on my iPhone until I got the bill. In a panic I scrambled and blissfully discovered (through an email so I don’t know how blissful) that Skype offers unlimited calls to the US and Canada for one monthly flat fee of $2.95. The only problem? Talking over my computer is was totally impractical and annoying audio-wise to callers on the other end. Enter the Philips Skype phone.

What is the Philips Skype Phone?
It’s a phone that is embedded with Skype software, similar to the one found on your computer. Once the phone is charged up, you login using your username and password. If you don’t have one, you’ll create it online at Skype’s website. It’s a little cumbersome to enter your login and password via the standard telephone keypad (you’ll have to hit the #2 three time to get ‘c’ and so forth) but once you’ve entered it you’re set for life. In other words, the Philips Skype Phone enables true ‘voice over IP’, much like Vonage, Lingo, and a few other services out there.

How do you plug in or use the Philips Skype Phone?
Setup is super easy. I’ve you’ve ever setup a network (i.e. plugged in a router) then it’s a no brainer. If not, it’s still a pretty painless process. First and foremost, you have to have an Internet connection and a router. I guess you could plug this thing directly into your cable company’s modem, but who pays for high speed Internet just to have phone service. Once you’ve ran an Ethernet cord from the router to the included Skype box, and plugged in the power packet you’re just about good to go. The Philips Skype phone will display a ‘gray x’ and the time on the screen. Just hit the ‘sign in’ button (left soft key), follow the on screen instruction, and ‘bam’, you’re making calls over the US and Canada (or whatever plan you opted for). If the screen continues to display an ‘x’, then there’s something wrong with your setup.

Is the Skype Phone easy to use?
For 9 out of 10 operations I found the Philips Skype Phone intuitive and easy to use. There are a few advanced features that a small percent of users might take advantage of, but not utilizing these won’t hinder an average, or under average user’s experience.

How’s the design and UI of the phone?
Ergonomically the phone fits nicely in the hand. It’s light weight and includes a belt clips for the true power broker. It also features a speaker phone, but when I tested this callers remarked that they could hear themselves or that there was an ‘echo effect’. I think this was a result of the speaker phone being too loud, but turning down its volume still resulted in the “Am I on speaker phone?” nagging question. Don’t expect cell phone like speedy navigation from the Philips Skype Phone. It’s not molasses slow, but if you’ve acclimated to a top of line handset you ain’t gonna get the same response time. For instance, there are a few short cut moves you can make, such as accessing recent calls. Just hit down on the navigation pad and you can see outgoing and incoming (if you have a Skype number – more money) calls. Accessing this info can take anywhere from 1 to 2 seconds. The Philips Skype Phone will display a little status bar when performing this action. Course the slowness might be more a result of the Philips Skype Phone accessing the network and less of a hardware issue. Otherwise, navigating the phone’s menu and changing the options are no less complicated than a standard cell phone. Just like your Skype account, you can also change your status, since those online will see you as if you’re logged in at your computer. This is handy, especially if you’re in bed on a Saturday morning hungover. You just gotta remember to change your status back and forth.

How’s the sound quality?
Sound quality seems to vary from call to call, but the most part is pretty stellar. Again, I think this is more a result of the Skype software and less of the hardware. Furthermore, with any VoIP, call quality tends to vary in sound quality. I didn’t test this phone over the landline option, but I am confident it would provide a a positive experience.

Wait, do I need a computer to use the Philips Skype phone?
Initially yes, to sign up for the Skype account, but after that you’re golden.

Will the Philips Skype Phone work with a landline?
YES! Philips, the smart cookies that they are, included both an Ethernet input and a landline input. When you go to make an outgoing call, regardless of what is plugged in at the back of the box, the phone will prompt you on what method to use: Landline or SkypeOut.

How’s battery life?
Battery life is of course variable, but in my experience with moderate use, you can go 5 – 7 days without charging the phone. In short, this thing beats any other wireless handset I’ve ever used and it’s got a small LCD screen.

All I care about are Ringtones?!
Yes, the Philips Skype phone has ringtones, the Polyphonic type. There’s 5 standard ring tones (normal ones) and 10 polyphonic. There doesn’t appear to be a way to add more ringtones.

Can you purchase other handsets?
Yes, you can purchase more handsets to work with the receiver box. There’s also an “INT” button located on the bottom of the handset that enables you to intercom the other handsets, making it (I am guessing) a virtual walkie talkie in your own home, but I don’t know how’d you specify which handset you’d like to speak with.

What are some other specs?
The phone can hold up to 500 Skype entries. It can dial pulse or tone, it is ‘Skype certified’, and the spec’d talk time is 12 hours and 120 hours standby.

What else is included in the box?
In addition to the phone and the call box, you also get a base charger, two AAA rechargeable NiMH batteries, an Ethernet and telephone cord.

Anything else?
My only gripe is that the phone doesn’t include Bluetooth for a headset, but I guess this is a little impractical since it’s a cordless phone for the home. It does include a 2.5mm jack for a headset, though.

Would you buy the phone?
YES YES YES. I never understood the attraction to Skype until I got my hands on the Philips Skype Phone. It’s ‘easiestly’ the cheapest and most practical phone setup for small businesses and homes. Who can beat $2.95/month for unlimited call (it’s actually 10,000 minutes per month due to ‘fair practice use’). Also, when you purchase a monthly SkypeOut plan, you get a discount on a Skype number. The only downside is that you can’t dial emergency phone numbers, which may prove to much a risk for those located in remote locations with out cell phone reception.

Available here for $140 and free shipping!

Additional Specs:

  • Display w/ 65k colors and 128×128 resolution
  • Ring profiles for internet and landline call distinction
  • Pulse and tone dialing
  • Up to 120 hours standby and 12 hour talk time

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Christen Costa

 
Grew up back East, got sick of the cold and headed West. Since I was small I have been pushing buttons - both electronic and human. With an insatiable need for tech I thought "why not start a blog focusing on technology, and use my dislikes and likes to post on gadgets."