I purchased a Belkin Wifi phone about a month ago. I’ve been on Skype for the past year and have been utilizing more of their features in order to determine if it will be a lasting service or a passing fad. I’ve been really happy so far with the service and keep looking into more products and ways to digitize my communications. After purchasing the Belkin Wifi phone I’ve learned a few things about the pros and cons of operating and using this new technology, and I’m happy to share them with you.
- It’s great to be able to pick up the phone and dial a number direct and not have to pay for it. Other products for Skype either require the user to connect to a computer, or put the caller into a contact list to be able to use the Skype service. I’ve found that it’s just as useful as a normal cordless phone would be.
- It does search wireless signals the same way a laptop does and can pick up a good range of signals. Plus, it does enable the user to put in save parameters for networks and store them for automatic connections, as well as connects to open network automatically. I keep it as my home phone and have my home network stored in the device as the primary connection. It stays on 24 hours a day and I’m almost at the point where that would be my full time home phone.
- It does have the ability to do caller id, call forwarding, and other Skype features. I like being able to dial into my voice mail and also see caller history, length of calls, etc.
- It has a cool color screen which makes it easy to read and navigate through colorful icons. It almost looks and feels like the IPhone, but without the touch screen, which would be a nice feature later on.
- It doesn’t require any additional set up or hardware to connect to most networks. Right out of the box you can begin to connect to networks and start using the Skype service, without any other fees, connection charges, or software setups in computer systems. I tried the Phillips cordless unit, which does both landline and Wifi signal, but that needed the computer to work and I wasn’t prepare to leave my computer on 24 / 7.
- It has add-on services like Boingo to provide more access points in public areas. Although it does sound good, I checked my area and the only additional places I got was McDonald’s and a couple of coffee houses. However, it does work in most airports through their Wayport partnership.
- The quality of talking is pretty good and most say they don’t even realize that I’m on a Wifi phone. There is maybe a second delay on their receiving end, but Wifi user gets the audio back almost real time. I’ve tested it with various sources.
- Ability to store contacts and numbers for fast dialing.
- Simple and easy to use and has limited functions to worry about.
- All phone calls have to be originated with a 1+area code, similar to long distance calling. Although it’s not extremely inconvenient, it does make for an extra step in dialing.
- Although it can find most network connections, if the access requires a browser based login, similar to the ones that are found in hotels, the phone cannot connect because it doesn’t have a browser built into it to enable the password to be entered through it. I’ve taken it with me to hotels only to find out that I cannot get on to their network with the phone and had to use my computer to connect.
- The signal strength is pretty good, but I’ve noticed as well as one friend who also has the same unit, that it occasionally will drop the signal in the middle of a call. This is because of the wireless network losing it’s packets and I’ve tried to strengthen my main signal by putting as the top source, but it’s frustrating when in the middle of a call and the signal goes dead, but not unlike cell phone where bars get dropped also.
- It’s not able to run some of the Skype extras like games, media player, etc., which should be in the next generation phones.
- Because it’s simple and easy to use, it doesn’t have a lot of features that other phones have but hopefully that will work out with the next generation, as well as adding a browser to be able to sign in on secured networks.
I hope this helps anyone who is thinking about buying one of the new Wifi phones and some of the things to consider when making the purchase. I personally think the Belkin Wifi phone is a great buy and I love having mine around to be able to make free calls anytime I want. There are also a few other products on the market that do a similar function but I’ve not tested them yet. NetGear, Linksys, and Panasonic have phones on the market that are also Wifi and Skype certified.