|At a Glance|
|Product||IPEVO Skype Desktop Phone (SOLO)|
|Summary||Dedicated Skype corded desktop phone that doesn’t require a computer|
|Pros||• Simple setup
• No computer required
• Good sound quality (both handset and speaker phone)
• Skype Certified
|Cons||• No support for Skype Video, Text Chat or Conference calls
• Doesn't support alternative POTS line
• Relatively expensive
As an active Skype user, I’m constantly on the lookout for new Skype-related products that could change or enhance my online telephony experience. The SOLO Skype Desktop Phone from IPEVO (www.ipevo.com) is just such a product. While most Skype users still use Skype with a client installed on their computers, the SOLO is aimed at users who want the low cost of Skype with the convenience of a regular phone.
The SOLO is a desktop speakerphone that has a built-in Skype client. It looks much like a traditional desktop phone and features a 2.4" (dia.) color screen that you can adjust for the best viewing angle. Just below the screen, there are two "soft" buttons whose functions correspond to icons located just above them on the screen. There’s a circular key—for four-way navigation through the menu system—with an "OK" button in the center.
Skype users will immediately recognize the red and green handset buttons for hangup/calling—they look just like the icons on the computer-based Skype client. In addition to the traditional dial pad, there are also three speed dial keys that you can define, as well as dedicated keys for Redial, Mute, Speaker, and Volume.
Figure 1: IPEVO SOLO Rear View
On the rear of the SOLO (Figure 1), there are two RJ-45 10/100 Ethernet ports—one labeled WAN and one labeled LAN. Each port has separate LEDs for link and activity. Though the instructions said to connect the WAN port directly to a cable/DSL modem, for my network, I merely plugged the WAN port into my LAN switch, and the SOLO retrieved an IP address from my router.
I was curious what would happen if I connected a computer to the LAN port. I didn’t know whether the SOLO was going to act as a simple router or not —especially since the network configuration menu had a PPPoE configuration option. It appears that the two ports are probably part of a two-port switch (IPEVO confirmed this) as the computer attached to the LAN port retrieved an IP address in the same class C subnet as the SOLO itself. That could possibly create a problem if you connected the SOLO directly to your cable/DSL modem, as most ISPs won’t pass out two IP addresses to a modem.
The rear panel also has a USB port whose function remains a mystery. There’s no documentation on the port, so I’m assuming that it’s for future use. A call to IPEVO confirmed that in the future, there will be a Wi-Fi dongle to enable the SOLO to connect wirelessly.
Noticeably missing on the rear panel is a POTS port for connecting to a traditional phone line. It would have been great if the SOLO could do double duty as a traditional desktop phone as well as a Skype phone, like the NETGEAR SPH200D (reviewed here). As it is, I now have an additional piece of hardware taking up real estate on my desk.