Royal Philips Electronics has entered the Australian market with a couple of cordless handsets that bring PSTN and VoIP together for the masses.
The phones bring together functionality for either Skype or Microsoft Live broadband calling with regular PSTN network calls. Unfortunately, customers need to decide whether to go with Microsoft Live or Skype as each phone only supports the one service.
The cordless phones are not PC-less and rely on the respective softphone running on the PC.
Similar to other setups, like the Linksys CIT-200 on my desk, the phones talk via DECT, but instead of using a dongle between a base station and PC, the base station plugs directly into the PC.
There are some interesting differences between the Skype and Microsoft versions of the phones. For starters, the Microsoft Live phones are considerably more expensive – partly because they have a colour screen rather than the monochrome only Skype handset.
The Skype devices (VoIP321) will retail for $129.95 in a single handset version and $199.95 for a two handset version. Buyers will get 60 minutes of call credits for SkypeOut calls.
It has an inbuilt speakerphone and remembers the last 20 missed calls and 10 received calls. The device syncs with the Skype contact list and also has storage for up to 50 phone numbers.
Meanwhile, the Microsoft Live Messenger version (VOIP433) is rather more expensive at $159.95 for the single handset and $249.95 for the dual.
One advantage of this device is the support for Microsoft Live’s multiple account feature which allows each user to select their own account and view their own contact lists.
Both of the phones are speakerphones, but will also allow teleconferencing of both handsets into a phone call.
Alternatively the system will allow one PSTN call and a Skype/Live call simultaneously.
The devices will go on sale early next month and should be available from major retailers such as Kmart, Office Works, Harris Technology and Harvey Norman.
The company has said that a version to work with other services, such as Yahoo!, may be made available in the future. Neither of the current versions will work with a Mac, Windows XP or 2000 is required. A Mac version may also become available in the future.