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In Use

The phone's user interface is very similar to that on the SMC, Netgear and Belkin Wi-Fi Skype phones that I've tested. Figure 6 shows a summary chart of the handset menus.

SPH200D handset menu summary

Figure 6: SPH200D handset menu summary (click image to enlarge)

You can access everything you need to set up the phone via the handset menus. There's also a web interface for the base station (Figure 7), but you it doesn't let you do much. The Network menu lets you select DHCP, PPPoE (with just login info) or Static IP for network connection. The Skype menu lets you create an account, sign in and out and shows your online status. The System menu is where you can upload a firmware upgrade file. And the Administration menu lets you change the admin interface password and restore the factory defaults.

SPH200D web admin interface

Figure 7: SPH200D web admin interface (click image to enlarge)

Using the phone was almost anticlimactic and very intuitive for both PSTN and Skype calling. When placing an outbound call, if you haven't set a preference, you'll be prompted to select either SkypeOut (if you've signed up for it) or landline. Receiving calls is easy, too. The phone will ring for either a Skype of PSTN / landline call and all you need to do is just answer the call.

Each base station can handle up to four handsets, but with only one active call (Skype or landline) at a time. Intercom connections are also supported, but between only two handsets at a time. You can, however, put an outside call on hold and make an Intercom call and then transfer the caller to the other handset. You can also make a 3-way "conference" call between an outside party and two handsets registered to the same base station.

But although Netgear's documentation says that the phone supports PSTN caller ID (as well as call-waiting and voicemail), it didn't appear to work for calls coming in to my landline number. It did work, however, for calls coming into my SkypeIn number and, of course, for incoming Skype calls. Note that the phone didn't enter landline calls into its call history log either.

Al my calls were clear and called parties didn't have any complaints about the phone's sound. Speakerphone quality was also good, with no echo or feedback reported by the called party. But they did say that my voice level was rather low, indicating a lack of microphone sensitivity.

The phone's design doesn't really lend itself to being used as a speakerphone anyway. The speaker is on the back and the phone's flat design effectively blocks it when the phone is laid down. I tried balancing the phone on its end, but that's a little tricky given that its center of gravity tends to want to make the phone fall over backwards.

Netgear specs "typical" battery life of 12 hours talk and 120 hours standby. I didn't formally test those numbers, but found battery lilfe comparable to the other standard cordless phones I use. After a full night's charge, I used the phone like any other cordless during the day and didn't return it to its charger at night. It went 2+ days and still had plenty of charge left.

One oddity is that the phone insists on being powered on during charging, even if you insert it into the charger powered off. There is no charge indicator on the charging stand either, but the phone plays a little tune when inserted and removed from the stand to indicate it is getting some juice.

Range was also comparable to other cordless phones I use and I didn't have any problems with it anywhere in my 3200+ sq. ft home. I didn't test interference with my 2.4 GHz WLAN, since the phone uses the 1.9 GHz band.

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