Networking equipment manufacturer Linksys
, a division of the mighty Cisco, has announced a cordless phone that is compatible with Skype, the popular VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) network.
For the uninitiated, Skype
(and VoIP in general) converts your phone conversation into a datastream, chops it up into tiny packets, and sends it over the fibre optic data backbone of the internet. It leverages the power of the Peer-to-Peer (P2P) technology behind the popular KaZaA filesharing program to spread the load across thousands of computers worldwide.
Skype allows you to have voice chats to any other Skype users in the world for free, and the quality is often as clear as a normal phonecall. You can even use SkypeOut to make calls from your PC to any regular phone too. Because it bypasses the traditional monopolies of British Telecom, AT&T and others for most of the journey, SkypeOut allows you to call your Aunty Flo in Australia for just £0.012 per minute. BT is about £0.25 per minute.
Most Skype users use a normal microphone headset, which tethers them to their PC. With the CIT200
, Linksys has made it possible to make cheap / free calls from every room in your house.
The device has a small base station that connects to a host PC via USB, and communicates with the wireless handset on the same digital DECT spectrum used by standard cordless phones. The upshot of this is that pesky interference with your WiFi network shouldn't be a problem.
The handset itself is fairly easy on the eye, and sports a colour screen which is able to display caller ID info and, handily, list contacts from your Skype address book. The phone can also interface with SkypeIn (to receive calls from the telephone network) and SkypeOut (to call your non-VoIP stone age friends). Skype's voicemail service is also to be supported.
The handset ships with a charging cradle which is usefully separate to the base station. This means you can squirrel the base station away behind your desk and have the handset based on its charger in a different room altogether.
Linksys is touting a 120 hour standby time and up to 10 hours of talk time for the device, which is available now for US$129.99 (UK pricing TBC).
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