TELECOM Digest OnLine - Sorted: Philips Bundles Skype & Windows Live VoIP With Cordless Phones

Philips Bundles Skype & Windows Live VoIP With Cordless Phones

Knowing About (
15 Aug 2006 11:28:53 -0700

Philips has launched in Australia two cordless phones selling for less
that $160 that operate both as PSTN phones with one model supporting
Skype and the other Windows Live Messenger. Both are designed to work
with a Windows PC running the respective standard softphone client and
Philips claims that, if the PC is set up and working with the
softphone, the cordless phones are totally plug and play with no set
up required. Full Skype or Windows Live functionality, including
conference calling and instant messaging is supported.

Both products will be widely available through retail outlets under a
distribution deal with Ingram Micro. Mark Franklin, director of Ingram
Micro Australia's communications division, said that cordless phone
sales in Australia were running at around two million units per year
and growing. With the Philips units being within the price range for
standard cordless phones, Franklin said they would be an attractive
alternative, but acknowledged that there was a challenge in education
the retailers to promote the products effectively.

He said the products were targeted at mainstream consumers, not the
technically savvy section of the market. As such they represent an
interesting new option: there are already WiFi cordless phones
available that incorporate the Skype softphone and work with Skype
without the need for PC.

For the potential buyer contemplating the two units they will also
have to choose between Skype and Windows Live versions: a choice
likely to be determined by whether their contacts are predominantly on
Skype or Windows Live. (The phones are visually quite different: The
Windows Live version is black, and the Skype version white).

The phones' base stations connect to the PC via the USB port and use
the international standard DECT technology for the wireless link, not
WiFi. Philips claims that because the DECT frequencies are reserved
for cordless phone application, the phones are less prone to
interference than WiFi and also have better indoor coverage.

The Skype model, the Philips VoIP321 sells for $129.95 in a single
handset version and $199.95 in a two handset version, both are
packaged with 60 minutes of call credits for SkypeOut calls. The DECT
standard supports up to five handsets per base station, but Philips
says there are no plans for other combinations or for single handset
sales -- it cites market research as indicating consumers rarely
upgrade after the initial purchase. However as the phones are DECT
standard, any DECT handset will be supported for PSTN calling.

The unit has a monochrome backlit screen that shows the user's contact
list and which contacts are online. It automatically synchronises with
the PC contact list. It has an inbuilt speakerphone and remembers the
last 20 missed calls and 10 received calls. Up to 50 phone numbers can
be stored. You can get more information about this phones on

Windows XP or 2000 is required. There are no confirmed plans to offer
a version that will work with Skype on the Mac. Kelly Poon, market
development manager for Skype Asia said the Skype softphone for
Windows, Linux and Mac OS X were quite different and any decision to
have the phone work with these would be up to Philips. Matt Moran,
general manager, Consumer Electronics Philips Australia, said he
expected a Mac version would be available, but could give no concrete

Also, although it was claimed that the product's functioning would not
be affected by upgrades to the Skype softphone, the phone comes with a
version of the Softphone on CD with instructions that this version
should be used for the phone to work correctly

The Microsoft Live Messenger version is rather more expensive and
$159.95 and $249.95 for the dual version, largely because it has a
full colour screen, which maintains the look and feel of Microsoft
Live on the PC. It is also able to emulate the multiple account
feature of Windows Live, enabling each user to select their own
account and view their own contact lists. It is also a speakerphone.

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