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Electronics

Best Skype Phone

Skype has become one of the fastest growing methods of online communication. This free internet calling service is well-known for its video conferencing capabilities, but it's also a popular way to place a regular phone call. Mainly, because it's basically free. Now telephone manufacturers have started to get in on the action, designing and building phones for use with Skype that are similar to that of a landline or smartphone handset. Until recently, Skype users were tethered to their PC's or laptops in order to use Skype but now; many of the VoIP ready versions you'll find on this list let you take Skype with you anywhere you can tap into an open Wi-Fi connection or broadband network. This list compiles the best Skype Phones available at the moment, each one chosen based upon the following criteria: ease of use, features, functionality, Skype compatibility, and price.

RTX DUALphone 4088 Skype Phone

The DUALphone from RTX gives you two phones in one device. Use it as a Skype phone, offering all of the advantages that come with it such as calling other Skype users free of charge, Skype Out support, Skype conference calls, manual and automatic Skype sign-in, Skype profile editing and you can even create a new Skype account on the 4088, among a whole range of other features. One of the best selling points of this or most any other Skype phone is the ability to use the Skype service without a PC, and the 4088 excels in that department. Boasting seven hours of talk time and 100 hours of standby time on a single charge, the device also has a range of 50 meters indoor and 300 meters outdoors of clear HD quality audio away from the base station. But Skype isn't the only way to use this phone, as RTX has built the 4088 to be used as a landline cordless phone as well, offering all of the standard features you'd expect from a high-quality cordless phone. Caller ID, Call Waiting, Speakerphone, and Message Waiting are all available here. There's also a 3.5mm headset jack on the device and the base station can handle up to four handsets at once, able to support two different Skype accounts and parallel Skype and landline phone calls by different users at the same time. The full color TFT display features the familiar Skype interface so making calls is just as easy on the 4088 as it is from your PC.

Philips VOIP 080 Skype Phone

Just plug the Philips 080 into the USB port on your computer, slip in the Installation CD-ROM and in minutes your software is fully installed and you're ready to start making calls via Skype. The device looks like a regular cordless phone, except for the circular button with the Skype logo. Simply push that button when the phone is connected to your PC and the Skype program boots up. You can then control all of the Skype functions from the handset device – scroll through your contact list, access voicemail, and make calls as you would from your computer. The device is USB powered, so there's no need to worry about battery life. You can choose from 10 different ringtone sounds for when calls come in and when you've finished using the device, the USB cable coils up neatly into the phone for easy storage.

Belkin 1PP010EN-SK Desktop Internet Phone for Skype

You don't need a PC with Belkin's desktop phone – just connect it to any router or modem and you're ready to enjoy everything Skype has to offer including Skype to Skype calling, Skype In and Skype Out calling to landline phone numbers, Skype Voicemail, Call Waiting, Contact List and Skype Directory Search, and so much more. The full color 1.8 inch LCD display will let you see all of the menus you'd find on the PC version of Skype and the keypad array is just as easy to use as a simple desktop office telephone. There are also a plethora of features here that you'd find on other phones, such as phone book dialing (able to store up to 500 numbers), speakerphone, last number redial, caller ID, mute, hold – everything you'd get in a normal desktop phone. But the price tag on the Belkin (around $100 from many retailers) might be a little high for those consumers who'd prefer their Skype phone to be wireless and portable.

Netgear SPH101 Skype Wi-Fi Phone

Netgear's Wi-Fi phone has full connectivity to access points that don't rely on typing in passwords or keycodes as the phone does not come with a web browser. So there's limited accessibility on the SPH101. But the phone has total Skype capability; pre-loaded with the Skype software, the device can make calls to other Skype users as well as any other wireless or landline phone with the SkypeOut option for just pennies a minute. Take the phone right out of the box, enter your Skype username and password and you're all set to go. The full color screen features easy to maneuver menus to see your contact list, call history, and access voicemails. The size and shape of the phone are identical to your standard cell phone, so don't worry about lugging around some huge piece of equipment either. No contracts and no subscription fees here – just find a Wi-Fi connection and start dialing.

Clear One 910-159-256 Chat60U Speakerphone

Somewhat slightly different than the other picks on our list, the Chat 60 is a speakerphone only device that lets you make and receive Skype calls through any desktop or laptop computer. Simply connect the device to a USB port and you're ready to access Skype, with HDConference audio technology which provides excellent call clarity making it sound like you're in the same room as the other party on the line. The unit has been equipped with a highly sensitive microphone that can pick up voices up to seven feet away and a loudspeaker that provides rich, crystal clear audio. There are no software requirements and no drivers to download, just take it out of the box, plug it in, and you're ready to go. It's even small enough to take with you on business trips so you're never hard to reach as long as you're near a computer.

Marc Gottlieb
I'm a rabid sports-aholic who's been to Super Bowl XXI, the Indy 500 and witnessed Doug Flutie's hail mary pass to Gerard Phelan live in Miami. Sundays are sacred in my household and I'm a two-time back to back champion of my fantasy football league. I played a lot of sports in high school; football, soccer, tennis, lacrosse and I was on the school ski team. I even tried my hand at racquetball in college. I've jumped out of two perfectly good airplanes and bungee jumped off a construction crane. Since then I've worked for one of the top product placement companies in Hollywood, coordinating with most of the major sports apparel labels to get their products featured in films and TV. But it's a life-long obsession with music and film that has given me years of experience with the latest technologies and innovations in electronics. If they've built it, I've tried it and likely bought it. Laserdisc, DVD, Bluray players; I own multiple units that cater to all of these formats and more. A misspent youth immersing myself in pop culture meant I craved the hottest devices through which to enjoy it all, and at the highest possible quality. What I learned over time though, is that the most expensive items aren't always the best.
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