Top critical review
83 people found this helpful
Nice, but not for me
on 1 January 2009
For most people, this will probably be a very handy addition to their desktop clutter. It worked reasonably well from the start, not even needing an initial charge, although I had to change back the Windows (XP) audio settings before it would stop playing other sounds - music, etc - through the phone. You only need to do that once, although read the final paragraphs for a caveat.
Once installed, you'll get the ugliest icon imaginable in your systray (the little icons next to the time on your Windows screen). It's hideous, bright green and with no attempt at a 3D effect, so it looks like an icon from a 1980s freebie kids' game. Small point, but a niggle nonetheless.
It's extremely simple to operate. Even the most trembling technophobe could use one - at the very simplest, a call to a contact set up with a fast-dial number can be made by pressing the number and then the green call button; an incoming call is answer simply by pressing the green button The display is clear, the build quality solid enough, and it fits well and feels good in the hand.
The base unit connects with a USB cable - I couldn't get it to work from a hub, so you'll probably need a spare port on your computer. This provides power as well as data, so it's a pretty neat setup. There is a hands-free mode on the base unit, but the sound I got from that was terrible; on an "echo" call to Skype Test Call I could barely make out what I was saying. Not a big problem to me - after all, if I'm next to the base unit I'm next to the desktop mic and speakers, and I'd prefer to use that anyway. It will mean that headset users won't have an alternative, though.
That knocks off one star from a five-star review. There's simply no excuse these days for a hands-free unit not to give perfectly adequate sound quality.
Why the other star knocked off? Well, this will only apply to people in the same situation as me, but it's enough for me to return the product for a refund:
You simply can't use it as a supplement to your existing setup, be it mic/speakers, headset or whatever. The software is very tightly integrated between the "SkypeMate" phone software and your regular Skype window (indeed you can switch tabs on the Skype window by pressing a key on the phone ... if you want to for some strange reason of your own), which works well on most ways, but means that you cannot receive a call on your normal setup. Incoming calls will always come to the phone, no matter how it's set up. Before making an outgoing call from your computer's hardware, you need to make two changes to the setup (change audio settings, setting your sound and mic back to your soundcard), and these are overridden as soon as you use the phone to make a call or even just receive one. It's unlikely that any of the competitors will be any different here, since it's the Skype software that's at fault.
Since I'd only purchased the phone as a secondary device, intending to use it for those times when I had to be away from the computer, this renders it useless to me.
But if you bear that in mind, and are looking for a simple but effective phone to use with Skype for all calls, look no further.