|At a Glance|
|Product||NETGEAR Cordless Phone with Skype (SPH200D)|
|Summary||1.9 GHz DECT cordless phone with built-in Skype client|
|Pros|| - Doesn't need a computer running Skype
- Speakerphone in handset
- Doesn't interfere w/ 11b/g WLAN
- Intuitive, attractive interface
- Good range
|Cons||- No landline caller ID or call record
- Low mic volume with speakerphone
Netgear introduced its latest Skype-enabled phone, the SPH200D, just over a week ago at the Consumer Electronics Show. I was able to get a pre-announcement copy and put it right to use both before and after the show.
There have been many Skype / PSTN (Public Switched Telephone Network, i.e. your local phone company) phones to hit the market since the original RTX / Olympia DualPhone. But the weakness of them all (with the exception of the Linksys CIT400 "iPhone" announced in December) is that they all had to be connected to a Windows PC running the Skype client in order to make and receive phone calls.
The latest crop of dual-mode Skype phones represented by the 200D, CIT400 and the Philips VoIP841 finally don't require a PC of any sort and instead have the Skype client running in their own processor.
The base station shown in the product shot above and in Figure 1 below is about the size of a dual CD box, using Netgear's white and silver plastic enclosure common to its consumer product line. Figure 1 needs little explanation and neither does installing the base station. You essentially insert power, network and phone line plugs into the appropriate sockets and you're done.
Note that there is no indicator light to let you know that the base is powered and ready. But either the Skype or landline indicators will illuminate when in use and the handset shows a little antenna icon when it's in touch with the base station.
Figure 1: SPH200D base station features (click image to enlarge)
As for the handset, you insert the two standard AAA-sized 1.2V 750 mAH NiMH rechargeable batteries, plug the charging base and power wall-wart together and place the handset into the base to charge. Figure 2 shows the handset controls, which are familiar enough, but it doesn't show the 2.5mm jack on the left side, which the user guide says handles a headset. Note that there is no dedicated volume control on the side of the handset; you adjust volume during a call with the 4-way navigation pad.
The handset won't win any design awards for either ergonomics or looks. There is no indentation to help guide your ear into place and, while free of sharp edges, the phone is blocky and isn't that comfortable to hold for long conversations.