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Bugs and Missing Features

The WSKP100 is relatively bug-free for a first-generation product. I experienced only one lock-up of the phone during repeated test calls and can't quite say what caused it. The only way I was able to get the phone to power down was to press and hold the Send key - not the End / Power Down key as you might expect.

The main bug I found was with the clock. Try as I might, I was not able to get the WSKP100 to keep proper time. For some reason, upon each power up, the phone insisted on displaying the correct time minus two hours. The date and minutes were always correct, but the hours were not. And even though I selected the 12 hour time format, at 1:XX PM, the phone showed 0:XX PM.

I also found that getting the phone to link up to encrypted networks took a bit of patience. The good news is that I was able to get the phone to successfully associate and work with a Belkin Pre-N access point using WEP 64 and 128 modes as well as WPA-PSK with both TKIP and AES encryption. The difficult part was that it seemed like I had to repeat the key-setting exercise twice in order to successfully connect in each mode.

This process was complicated by the fact that the phone doesn't do a good job of keeping all of its network status indicators properly updated and doesn't provide a positive "Connected" indication after security settings are successfully accepted. Sometimes the little Wireless Signal Status bars on the Main screen (Figure 4) would display a red "X'd" circle indicating a network disconnect. But more often I'd see four bars of signal and a nice green Skype icon on the main screen when there was nary an AP in range. It wasn't until I'd try to view the contacts list that I'd get a "Networks were not found!" screen and then the Main screen Skype icon would become greyed out. Note that the phone also doesn't automatically start scanning for another network when it loses connection.

While the bug list is small, the list of "annoyances" is longer. I found the narrow keys a tad on the small side and difficult to use for one-handed dialing. And although the backlit keyboard is a good idea, the combination of white keys and blue backlight actually made the keys harder to read under lighted room conditions.

The WSKP100's GUI is also a bit sluggish, sometimes taking seconds to respond to a key press, especially in the Settings menus. And I was surprised to find that scrolling through lists required a separate press of the Navigation key / joystick for each item (no hold-to-repeat).

Also on my list of complaints is that the phone is just plain uncomfortable to use. The slot over which you're supposed to park your ear is too close the the raised border that runs around the edge of the phone. That ridge cut right across my ear, making the phone uncomfortable to use for long periods. And with no indentation to guide your ear into place, I found myself having to slide the phone around to find the right location.

But the bigger potential for buyer dissatisfaction are the features that you might think would be in a "Skype phone" but are not. So before you plunk down your money, here is what you won't get with the WSPK100:

  • No Text Chat - You won't find it in the menus and any Skyper attempting to initiate a text chat with your phone will get a message that the version of Skype that you are using doesn't support it. This is probably for the best, since, without an alphanumeric keyboard, you'd have to be pretty nimble with old-style SMS texting to keep up with full keyboard-enabled Skypers.
  • No Web Browser authentication - The WSPK100 doesn't have a web browser or any other way to get you authenticated to a network that requires you to launch a web browser to check in. This could really put a crimp in the phone's appeal to road-warriors looking to leave their notebook back in the office yet stay connected with Skype.
  • No Conference Calling - Once you start a call, the only options you have are to mute the microphone and put the call on hold.
  • No Speakerphone - This one is a bit curious, since the speaker can be driven loudly enough to serve double-duty for ringer and call-progress tones. But there is no option to keep the speaker pumped up once the call starts. This is a big negative for the way I like to use a phone, especially one that is virtually impossible to cradle between your shoulder and ear.
  • No separate ringer - Having the earpiece speaker serve double duty as a ringer buzzer resulted in my ear being blasted a few times when the phone didn't switch the volume back down right away once the call started. That's why manufacturers separate these two functions and SMC (Accton) should have, too.
  • No keyboard conveniences - You can't press any key to pick up a call, lock the keyboard, mute or hold a call or disable the ringer.
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