A Cordless Skype Phone

There’s been quite a bit of hype surrounding the launch last week in the UK of the BT ‘Bluephone’ dualphone, which uses Bluetooth in the home to connect to a VOIP connection, but which switches to a mobile phone elsewhere. (Actually the launch consists of 400 early adopters until September.)

There are lots of questions about this. Why Bluetooth? Why not Wi-Fi? But there’s also a question that hasn’t been asked: Why not DECT — a standard for cordless phones in Europe and pretty much everywhere except the U.S.?

One company is now offering a phone which does mix it up with DECT, and, while its other life is as a fixed line telephone rather than a mobile one, it might make more sense, not least because it works with Skype. The Inquirer, one of the first to get hold of a unit, today reports that the Dual DECT and cordless Skype phone works:

IN TERMS OF dual purpose handsets for the home, the most cost-saving approach must surely be a combined cordless and VoIP handset. Given the popularity of Skype and the use of the DECT standard for digital cordless in Europe, then the Du@lphone is the obvious solution.

Most Skype users have joined up so that they can make free voice calls to friends and family abroad who possess a broadband connexion. Normally you’re tied to your desktop PC or laptop, waiting for a call to come in.

With the Du@lphone you can easily wander around the house and take the call wherever is convenient. Even in the bath if you want to. Plus the quality of the voice calls is very high. Indeed, it’s difficult to tell the difference between a Skype call and a regular telephone connexion with this handset.

Dualphone

This has a lot of appeal. The cordless phone is a great invention, and most folk seem to have them now. And while there are obvious drawbacks — you have to have your computer on and connected, you have to switch the cable to a PSTN line to make an ordinary call, the version of Skype that runs on the phone is a version created by the company, and so needs to be updated by them – rather than Skype  – should the need arise — the advantages are legion. First off, being able to use Skype on a cordless telephone suddenly liberates you from your computer (OK, Pocket PC users may already be at this spot); second, having an ordinary phone that you can plug into the wall if necessary and use a landline with saves you a lot of money and hassle:

The Cordless DUALphone is a cordless telephone that can be connected to a normal telephone socket and a USB port on a PC. The display shows whether your friends who also use Skype™, are online. If they are, you simply have to press the appropriate green button and talk to them for free – no matter where they are in the world.

Of course, it would be great to have one of these devices that did mobile/fixed/Skype/SkypeOut & In seamlessly. It will happen. In the meantime it’s pretty exciting to see all these early efforts at cracking open new markets. Good luck to them.

China’s Static Mobile Phone, And Its Mobile Static Phone

One of the things I noticed at last week’s CommunicAsia expo in Singapore was the range of phones. And not just fancy handhelds touted by dancing, skintight woven women, although that did claim some of my attention. But China, for example, is pumping out machines that run the gamut of needs, including desktop GSM phones.

Guanri, for example, of Shenzhen, sells several phones that use either CDMA or GSM wireless technology for phones that either sit in your office, or work as payphones, both for public places and ‘supervised locations’, which I take to mean shops or kiosks where someone can make sure you don’t run off with the phone and where they rather than the phone takes the money you owe for using it.

I realise this isn’t anything new: Africa and poorer regions do a lot of this kind of thing. But I guess this idea of a GSM phone masquerading as a desktop phone is kind of new, and represents a challenge to China’s quasi mobile market, where a technology originally devised for Japan called  Personal Handyphone System (PHS) uses a Wireless Local Loop (WLL) to offer a sort of mobile access, at least when you’re in range of an antenna.

The idea, I guess is one of applying the principle in reverse — where you can only use the cellphone when you’re near a loop — so that your use of the phone is limited by the fact that it’s physically stuck to your desk. Either way you’re making the most of what is available — a network that is not particularly farflung, but more accessible than a landline for which you’ll have to wait several blue moons.