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In Use

I had quite a time getting the DUALphone application that runs the interface between it and Skype to install, but I had no such problem with the CIT. I just ran the CD Install Wizard, which walks you through plugging in the base and handset and then installing the required application. Once the app loads, it displays a little window with a scrolling display (Figure 9) that keeps you abreast of what it is doing and minimizes to the System Notification area once it does its thing.

I found that if you bring it up manually, you need to remember to minimize it and not close it. Because unlike Skype itself, closing the app window quits it, disabling the CIT until you re-launch the app. Unfortunately, minimizing it leaves it in the Windows Task Bar and there's no way to just get it back to running in the System Notification area.

The CIT application window

Figure 9: The CIT application window

I should note that I normally use an Actiontec Internet Phone Wizard [reviewed here] to use a cordless phone for both Skype and VoIP service. So I made sure to uninstall the Actiontec application before installing the CIT's. Also worthy of note is that both the Actiontec and DUALphone have the very annoying habit of grabbing hold of my PC's sound resources after the first Skype call of the day and not letting go until the PC is rebooted. I've futzed with various Skype and Windows sound properties to fix this, but to no avail. I'm happy to say that the CIT doesn't share this annoying habit and plays cooperatively with my sound card.

I made and received normal Skype calls, and also made a few SkypeOut calls. Dialing a SkypeOut calls is done the same way that you do with Skype itself, by holding down the "0" key until the required "+" appears. Callers reported that I sounded just fine, but with typical telephone, not Skype, fidelity. This is in contrast with the DUALphone's ability to deliver full Skype fidelity on Skype calls.

Range was very good - better than the Uniden 5.8GHz phone system I recently purchased. With the base connected to my PC in lower-level office, I was able to wander all over the inside of my two-level 3200 sq. ft home. I had only a few brief cut-outs when in the room on the upper level and farthest away from the base. I didn't officially test battery life, which Linksys doesn't spec, but left the phone out of its charging stand overnight and the battery indicator still read full.

The phone uses a U.S. version of DECT, which shouldn't interfere with 802.11b/g WLAN operation. I didn't bother verifying this, since I had checked that on the DUALphone.

One thing that Skype addicts may not like is that the Contacts list updates quietly so you get nary a beep, display light-up or any other indication of your Contacts' comings and goings. This could be a disadvantage versus the DUALphone, where the backlight comes on and the display shows a Contact's name when they come online and you have the option of sounding a beep, too.

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