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ZyXEL was also displaying its next-generation V650 VoIP Wi-Fi phone (on the right in the photo below). It's made for SIP V2, has a nice, big, bright color LCD screen and supports WEP and WPA, but not WPA2. It's due out in December for around $250 list.

ZyXEL P-2000W v2 and V650 VoIP Wi-Fi phones (click to enlarge)

I dropped in on Polycom to check out its new SoundPoint IP 650 desktop phone with "HD Voice". The side-by-side demo of the phone with its previous-generation version (sans HD Voice) was impressive, with the difference between HD Voice's 20+ kHz audio bandwidth vs. the usual ~4 kHz immediately obvious. But since most home and SOHO users don't need a six-line, $450 SIP phone, I didn't get too excited.

But on my way of of the booth, I happened to see Polycom's Communicator, a $129 Skype speakerphone that has been out for a few months and also uses the HD Voice technology. Although you can buy many Skype speakerphones for less money, I don't think you can find one with the sound quality to equal what I heard from this device.

Polycom Communicator Skype Speakerphone

Polycom Communicator Skype Speakerphone in two stylish colors

For a chip's-eye view of things, I stopped at CSR to check out its low-cost UniVox chipset for VoWiFi phones. You may know CSR as the dominant supplier of Bluetooth devices, but it also has a growing business supplying its UniFi 802.11b/g single-chip radio to dual-mode Cell/WiFi phone makers.

CSR UniVox VoWiFi Reference Design Phone

CSR UniVox VoWiFi Reference Design Phone

UniVox combines the UniFi chip with a MAP (Media Applications Processor) chip and throws in a royalty-free reference design that CSR says will yield a full-featured VoIP Wi-Fi phone for a total bill of material cost of around $20. Sorry, but no color screen at this price point and no built-in Bluetooth either. This means that a manufacturer using UniVox could produce a VoWLAN phone retailing for around $60, instead of the $200+ you now see.

UniVox' real claim to fame, however, is extremely low power consumption, using tricks and technology developed over five generations of Bluetooth chipsets. CSR says that phones using UniVox will have 20 hours of talk time and 400 hours of standby using a 1500 mAh battery. Unfortunately, I won't be able to verify these claims until the first end-products using UniVox appear sometime toward the end of Q1 2007.

I got a different take on the VoIP Wi-Fi handset chip market during a visit with Marvell. They were featuring the 88W8616 WiFi VoIP chipset, which is due to start showing up in phones soon. Curiously, Marvell had two Accton Skype Wi-Fi handsets on display, one with the SMC logo and the other without. I couldn't get a clear answer as to why this was, since the SMC version I recently reviewed was based on TI silicon. But if I correctly read between the lines, there could soon be two vendors powering Accton's line of Skype Wi-Fi phones.

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