Posted on 16-Feb-2007 17:02 by M Freitas.
Filed under: Reviews
At home I already have the original Dualphone Skype phone. In my previous review I have already commented on what a great idea it is - bringing together DECT cordless phones with Skype functionality, when plugged to the landline and to a USB port on a Windows-based PC running the Skype VoIP software.
But the people behind Dualphone didn't stop there. The company has recently released the Dualphone 3088 for Skype, a second cordless phone in their series (there's a third one, but it's not for consumer market at this stage), that free the user from the need of a PC.
What's in the box and how to connect
The Dualphone 3088 for Skype comes with a base station, a charger stand and a handset. The base station is the key to everything: the small box connects at once with a landline through a standard phone cord, and to a router or switch through a standard Ethernet cable.
Once connected to your network, the base station automatically acquires an IP address from your DHCP server (if there's one in the network), or you can manually set the network configuration, including IP address, gateway and DNS.
After connecting you can use the keypad to enter your Skype account information (including name and password) and configure the phone to automatically login when on, or always ask for your password.
If you internet connection dies (it happens, right?) the phone will work on the landline, like any other cordless phone.
Here's the the beauty of this setup: the only cord attached to the charger stand is the one for power, meaning you can have the charger and handset in your lounge or hall, while the base station is in the home office or in the corner with your router. With the old model your base station (and charger) had to be next to your PC, and if you needed the handset somewhere else there was no way to keep it recharging.
Handset, voice calls
The handset itself has a bright colour screen and buttons that provide a better feedback than the old version. The LCD shows current Skype status, which account is logged in as well as SkypeOut credit and time.
You can configure the phone to ask if you want to use the landline or SkypeOut when placing a phone call, or change the configuration so that it assumes it's always one or another. Once established, calls are clear and have good volume. Of course the quality of your call over the Internet depends on the speed and latency of your connection rather than the phone itself.
A dedicated button provides quick access to the contact list, showing who's online, away, and so forth. You can simply click the big round button in the middle of the phone to initiate a free call over Skype or a SkypeOut call.
Also new in this version is a on/off button on the handset itself, the speakerphone option, a much easier to use configuration menu and history. A blue LED flashes under the left arrow button if you miss a call or have a new request from a contact wanting to add your account to their list to add a contact. As soon as you act on pending announcements or requests the LED stops flashing.
The documentation claims up to 50 meters range indoors and up to 300 meters outdoors. I didn't go that far, but had good coverage around the house and section, which is probably about 200 square meters in size. The rechargeable battery provides about ten hours talk time and up to 100 hours standby.
You don't need a PC for most common tasks you perform on a Skype client, except for the chat. You are able to place Skype and SkypeOut calls, receive Skype and SkypeIn calls, accept, search and add new contacts, create a Skype conference call, configure Skype Call Forwarding, and change your status. You won't be able to chat with this phone though, but I don't think this is a problem. My previous Dualphone setup was connected to a PC with no monitor or keyboard so I ever only used it for voice calls anyway.
A very interesting feature is the automatic update. If a new update is available an announcement shows up on the LCD and you have the option to download and install or dismiss it. Or, you can click through to the advanced options menus to initiate the download. In any case, everything is done behind the scenes and the update is quick.
During my tests (about a month) I saw two updates, which actually fixed a couple of problems I found. The first one was related to using New Zealand as the home country, and the second was related to incorrect time zone settings.
The Dualphone 3088 for Skype is the device to consider if you are serious about saving some money by utilising the Skype service. Easy to use, reliable and functional.
No need for a PC when placing and receiving Skype calls;
Separate base station and charger;
Colour screen with status.
Found a couple of bugs during tests, but those were fixed with subsequent automatic updates.