Philips’ sleek new home phone promises to combine landline and Skype calls in one handset. But how easy is it to use?
Cordless home phones have come a long way since the big aerial days when they buzzed if you weren’t facing the base station or cut out when you walked into the next room. Not only do they now make clear, reliable calls, a select few include support for Skype’s VoIP calls – like Philips’ VOIP841.
This sleek, attractive DECT model isn’t the first phone to let you do this – Netgear’s SPH101 will let you make internet calls in any Wi-Fi hotspot – but no other home phone so effortlessly combines home and VoIP calls.
The VOIP841 has a strong battery life, excellent range and works with more than one handset. Thanks to DECT you can easily add extra handsets, which only need to connect to a mains supply rather than the phone socket. So if you want to put the phone on a different floor to the phone line, go right ahead.
Setup a cinch
Setting up the phone for Skype calls is gloriously simple – the phone links not to the PC but direct to your broadband router by Ethernet cable. The base station has to be next to the router but the phone handset and its charging cradle can go anywhere within your router’s wireless range.
Once you’ve signed into your Skype account – if you don’t have one, you can do it for free from Skype’s site – the handset displays your Skype contact directory.
Making calls is simple too – you just dial the number and choose whether to use the landline or to dial using SkypeOut. These cheap calls are routed through the internet until they terminate in a landline or mobile and work out pretty cheap if you’re calling abroad, but are less useful for local calls.
Free phone calls
But the killer app is calling other Skype users – arm your network of family and friends with one of these handsets and all your calls will be free. The list of your contacts also tells you their status, making this easier to use than most home phones.
Other design touches raise its stock further. A speaker round the back lets you use it in speakerphone mode, it’s comfortable in the hand, the keys are easy to dial, and, most importantly, the Skype and DECT capabilities are integrated perfectly.
If you’re looking for a decent DECT phone, the VOIP841 is a great choice – but its ability to effortlessly mix landline and Skype calls takes it to another level in the home phone market.
Philips VOIP841 review
A brilliant mix of landline and Skype phones that’s easy to use and, in the long run, a real pound-saver