Skype and USB phones….



I’ve seen skype I just haven’t used it personally until very recently. In fact there was a place (dialpad?) that I had used once upon a time for a few free long distance calls online. It was neat, but had some limitations (delay). It quickly became non-free and frankly the microphone I have hooked up to the PC fell back in the corner beside the desk and I haven’t dug it out in quite a while. A few weeks ago though my Dad discovered Skype and ordered a cheap ($17) “phone” that plugs into the usb port of the pc and can be used with skype and a variety of other services. (in fact, it works as a generic usb sound card so… there might be other possibilities for using it to record wav files directly, etc.)


He wanted to get me one and so he did. I must say I wasn’t terribly excited about it for a number of reasons I suppose. (1, we don’t do MUCH long distance calling and 2, our cellphone plan has enough minutes and “free times” that we use those for whatever long distance we DO make and never run over our quota of minutes.) But anyway, it arrived and I was curious to see how well it would do under linux. I haven’t found anything yet that accepts input from the keypad dialer, but the phone works just fine when used with a software dialer such as skype. The biggest limitation I see is the tether to the USB port.

I did a brief look to see what bluetooth options there were for such devices. I REALLY think that would be a useful possibility. Of course, though in the process I ran across the Netgear SPH101 Skype Wi-Fi Phone and a number of other wireless skype phones (need NO pc, just a wireless b/g signal). I see those as being marginally better in that you can actually walk around the house with them at least (or at a public hotspot.) They do seem a bit expensive though $200+ There is a sub-$200 choice from Belkin (Belkin Wi-Fi Phone for Skype ( F1PP000GN-SK ))

I did find this trendnet bluetooth handset TRENDNET TVP-SP1BK ClearSky Bluetooth VoIP Phone Kit (for Skype) for around $80 which is not as bad.

I also found an interesting “dual phone” entry Philips Skype Dual Phone Single VOIP3211G/37 that will use your landline or skype account and is a portable. (I’m assuming it actually plugs into your lan for access to the internet and skype since it doesn’t specifically cite 802.11b/g) Or, it comes in a pair Philips Skype Dual Phone Double VOIP3212G/37.

Now, most of these are much more expensive than a $20 or cheaper usb handset, but they do open up interesting possibilities. For myself….. my first reaction to the handset was…. “great, one MORE thing to plug into the pc.” I’ve got a pocketpc dock, usb readers, tv capture card, etc.etc.etc.etc. and I really could see advantages to a standalone product. It’s nice to know that there are some good options out there. I especially like the idea of the “dual phone” where you can use either landline or VOIP from the same handset.

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