The Internet-based text and voice chatting system, Skype, is popular enough that some people have started using it instead of regular phone lines, so itis no surprise that companies are releasing products that untether you from your computer desk while you talk. Keyspanis VP-24A Cordless VoIP Phone is one option, and it works well enough for regular use.
The Keyspan Cordless VoIP Phone includes a cell phone-style wireless hand set, a USB receiver/transmitter, and software to make it work as seamlessly as possible with Skype. The phone unit comes with rechargeable batteries and a USB charger cable, so you donit have to carry an extra power adapter when you travel.
Keyspanis Cordless VoIP Phone.
Once you install the WirelessUSBPhone software, the phone links with Skype and even lets you view your Skype contacts, connect to other users, and accept incoming calls. If you use the SkypeIn or SkypeOut services, the phone keypad works for dialing, too.
Unfortunately, the WirelessUSBPhone software (version 1.1.3) isnit Universal Binary yet, so it doesnit run natively on Intel-based Macs. Keyspan is working on Intel-native drivers for its products, and has a list of updated products on its Web site.
Skype automatically selects the phone for you.
The audio quality is acceptable for a cordless phone, but not good enough for quality recording. I wonit be retiring the mics I use for podcasting in favor of Keyspanis phone, but I am totally comfortable using it for daily conversations. Thatis actually saying a lot, considering I was expecting tin-can-and-string audio quality.
The wireless range is surprisingly good, too. I found that I could walk away from my PowerBook - on my desk on the third floor at the TMO central tower - and still use the phone on the first floor. The greater the distance from your Mac, the weaker the signal, but I found the audio quality to be acceptable even when I was two floors away from my PowerBook.
Since the phone works as another audio interface for your Mac, you canit take the it out of range of your computer and still expect it to work, so donit think you can use it as a replacement for your cell phone. Think of it more as a cordless office or home phone.
But since it is ultimately just another audio interface, you can also use it with other applications that take advantage of microphone input - like iChat. Instead of just working, like it does with Skype, you have to select the phone as your audio input and output in iChatis preferences.
You have to manually select the phone in iChatis preferences.
Once set up, it works perfectly well, but you canit use the phone to accept incoming audio chats, or disconnect when finished. You still need your Mac for that. Hopefully Keyspan will find a way to make the dial, answer and disconnect buttons work with iChat.
The Bottom Line
The Keyspan Cordless VoIP Phone is a useful tool for Skyping when you are in range of your Mac. Its ability to access your Skype contact list, answer and disconnect from calls, and dial phone numbers make it a versatile tool for Skype users. Itis limited support for other systems, like iChat, make it easy to wander around while chatting, but still keeps you tied to your Mac to answer and disconnect. The audio quality is good enough for phone conversations, and the range means you can wander out of site from your computer.
But if you are holding out for an Intel-native version of the phoneis software, youill have to wait a little longer.