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There are a few thoughtful touches in the CIT. For example, the base station, which is slightly smaller than a deck of playing cards, plugs into the USB port of a Windows machine (XP and 2000 only) running Skype and is powered from its USB port. There is a separate charging stand and power wall-wart, which lets you place the handset away from the PC. This is more flexible than the DUALphone's base-and-handset-dock design, which keeps the handset's charging location tied to the PC running Skype. Another nice feature is that the phone can use a pair of regular AA batteries, although it comes with two rechargeable NiMH AA cells.

While I'm on the subject of charging, I was surprised to see that there is no charge indicator when the phone is in its cradle. Instead the phone plays a happy little tune to let you know that it has made connection to a live power source.

The menu system is generally logically laid out (Figure 4), with access to a wide range of functions for personalizing the phone. But because there is no indication of the other menus available when landing on the Skype menu after pressing the Menu soft key, I didn't realize they were there until I took a look at the PDF user manual on the installation CD!

Figure 4: The Main Menus

The small color display is bright and very readable - you can judge for yourself from Figures 5 - 8. The Skype Contacts list (Figure 5) can be brought up via a dedicated key and scrolled through - a bit too slowly for my taste - using the 4-way navigation pad. You can drill down into each contact's available profile details (Figure 6), except for their picture. Some of the icons in the Contacts details are a bit hard to decipher, but are decoded in the User Guide.

Contacts display Contacts details
Figure 5: Contacts display Figure 6: Contacts details

The handset has all the features you'd expect and navigation is easy and logical. When you're not on a call, a push up or down on the 4-way Navigation pad brings up the Phonebook, which has 100 private (stored only in the handset) and 20 shared (stored in the Base) entries. A push left or right brings up a list of recently dialed calls, which you can select and use to dial again, or enter into the Phonebooks. While a call is in progress, you can adjust volume by pushing up and down on the 4-way pad.

There's also a dedicated Calls key, that brings up a menu where you can browse through missed, dialed and received calls. The * and # keys do double duty to turn off the ringer and lock the keypad respectively, by holding them down for a few seconds.

Intercom display Handset ring tone selection
Figure 7: Intercom display Figure 8: Handset ring tone selection

Figure 7 shows the menu for the Intercom feature, which allows internal communication among up to four handsets. I didn't get to try this, since I had only one handset, but Figure 8 shows that you can select different ring tones for Skype and Intercom calls. There are 15 ring tones to choose from, most of which are annoying little tunes, rather than simple rings. And the default ring for Skype calls has a very urgent sort of eyewitness-news-breaking-story kind of tone that I don't think many will enjoy.

Unfortunately you can't load your own ringtones into the handset, so you'll just have to find a tone that's least annoying. You also can't add to the three screen "wallpapers" or choose just a blank background.

The one frequently-used function that is awkward to get to is the speakerphone. There's not a dedicated key, so you can't pick up a call via speakerphone. The only way to go to speaker is via an Options soft menu that appears when you're on a call or dialing one.

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