Tired of waiting for Netgear and Belkin's PC-independent wireless phones, we took a look at this smart-looking alternative
Internet phone calls are generally as fun as watching the last season of Big Brother but can, occasionally, hit exciting heights and live up to their potential of killing landlines and mobiles.
We recently had one of those moments, as we played with the Edge Core phone - the first PC-free Wi-Fi Skype phone you can actually buy. Netgear, by comparison, unveiled its rival SP101 to much trumpetting and tickertape in January, but it's been hopelessly delayed and is still unavailable.
Get your free phone calls here
Like the better-known Netgear, the idea behind the Edge Core is that you can make wireless, cheap internet phone-calls - free, if you're calling another Skype user - without a computer.
It could replace your home phone: to take and receive calls you only need a router switched on, not your whole PC rig. Or you could theoretically jump on a hotspot in a Starbucks in Seattle and call Swindon for free.
In the hand, this is a good-looking bit of kit with a screen that is
perfectly legible and build quality that's surprisingly OK. What you will immediately notice, however, is the wobbly number keys that wiggle around when you apply any pressure to them. Although annoying, it's not a red card for the phone, as this is Skype we're talking about here, and you can simply pull up your online address book using the (non-wobbly) navigation keys.
Call quality's on a par with the Linksys CIT200 we trialled earlier in the year - just like a normal landline - and we didn't have any problems getting it talking to our WPA-encrypted wireless network. In fact, after one slightly tedious set-up involving pass keys and our Skype password, it simply signed up straight into Skype every time we powered it up afterwards. You could happily replace your home phone with this, especially as it comes with a smart-ish white charging station.
Making calls from hotspots while you're roaming in the urban jungle is trickier, as you need to know the key to whatever Wi-Fi network you're trying to jump on. Since the phone can't browse web pages, you won't be able to sign into paid-for services such as T-Mobile or BT Openzone - you'll need to find someone generous enough to leave their network open.
Edge-Core Wi-Fi Skype phone review
Judging by the Edge Core, it’s going to take a while for Skype phones to muscle into a market dominated by mobiles and landlines