I have been playing with the CIT-200 Cisco/Linksys Skype Phone for a few months. Its an interesting device and hopefully an example of things to come in extending Skype functionality beyond the PC/Mac or Pocket PC World. So what is the Skype Phone?
The Cisco/Linksys Skype Phone is:
- Compatible with the Skype P2P Telephony Service
- Compatible with Skype IN – phone calls to your Skype number (available in lots of cities/countries around the world) ring on the phone
- Compatible with Skype OUT – most direct dial phone numbers can be called from the phone at rates as low as ~$.02/Min
- A combination of hardware (a USB connected Base Unit and a Wireless Handset) and software (a “shim” application that allows the USB Base Unit to interact with the Skype Software on a PC) that extends the use of Skype voice functionality beyond the PC wirelessly
- Sounds Great
The Skype phone is not:
- A standalone wireless handset that can utilize a home/office Wifi network to access Skype
- Macintosh Compatible (Windows on PC Only)
- Able to function without the PC turned on and the Skype software running
- Able to send/recieve Skype text messages
With that said – it is still a great implementation of what it promises to be. The phone extends Skype voice functionality beyond the PC allowing you to use it more like a telephone. It is compatible with Skype voice chatting (including presence – you can see which of your skype contacts is online, available, etc) and works well with Skype IN and OUT provided you pay for the Skype IN/OUT services. The phone uses the DECT protocol for its radio communications and in my testing I have had nothing but extremely clear calls that work anywhere throughout the 3 levels of my house.
While its a great device and works well it’s still not the nirvana of Skype phones. I am still waiting for a Wifi (802.11b/g) compatible Skype phone that will allow me to use my skype account and features without the need for a PC to be running with the Skype client software. There are several in the works and even some plans to include Skype functionality in upcoming mobile phones from company’s like Motorola. I know that some folks are using the Pocket PC version of Skype on Smart phones with Wifi but I still consider that to be an interim solution to a real “Skype Phone”. I will be sure to let you know when I find one!