|Belkin Wi-Fi Phone for Skype with Boingo Hot Spot Manager ( F1PP000GN-SK )
|List Price: $179.99
Our Price: Too low to display
Got Skype? Skype is a wonder tool for telecommunication around the world for far less than a regular phone call. This Belkin phone can be used with or without a computer. It does need, however, wireless access to a broadband WiFi network connection. It comes pre-loaded with Skype software and featuring the same Skype interface, the Belkin Wi-Fi Phone is ready to use with any wireless network. It is easy to use. To make a call, simply use the intuitive on-screen color menu to locate your contact and view their online availability-exactly like you use Skype today.
If you're a Skype subscriber, you're probably very happy with the cheap calls you can make to overseas land lines and mobile phones, and you're probably ecstatic over the free calls you can make 24/7 to your fellow Skype subscribers around the world. But you're probably not overjoyed having to be tethered to your computer in order to make those calls.
Thankfully, Belkin has come to your rescue. With the Belkin Wi-Fi Phone for Skype, not only are you free to roam away from your computer as you talk turkey with Istanbul, you don't even need a computer to make calls. As long as you have access to a Wi-Fi network -- any hot spot will do -- you can use your Belkin Wi-Fi phone to connect to your Skype account and talk to your heart's content.
We recently put a beta model of the Belkin Wi-Fi phone to the test, and we walked away impressed with its potential. While there are a few wrinkles still to iron out, the Belkin Wi-Fi has a promising future with Skype subscribers.
How Skype Works
For the uninitiated, Skype is a free service that allows you to use your computer's broadband connection to make phone calls to anywhere in the world. You simply create a free account on the Skype web site, download software to your computer, and once you have a microphone and headset, you can call land lines, mobile numbers or other Skype users through your computer. The Belkin Wi-Fi for Skype takes the computer, headphones and headset out the equation, but this is generally how the service works.
With Skype, your calls to overseas non-Skype users are substantially cheaper than most cell phone or land-line services, and your calls to your fellow Skype users, regardless of where they are in the world, are absolutely free. So if you're in a business that requires extensive overseas communication, or you're trekking the globe, Skype is a service you'll want to consider.
The Belkin Wi-Fi Phone Design
At about the same dimensions and weight of an average open-faced cell phone, such as the Sony Ericsson T637, the Belkin easily passes the transportability test. The phone features a durable black shell and a bright screen that offers a soft blue and white background with crisp black text. While adequate in low-light or office conditions, the screen doesn't fare well in bright sunshine, but it's still readable. Because the phone is only intended to be used for calls, it does not include any advanced media options. This interface is designed simply to get you connected to your Skype account. An easy-to-use center control toggle makes it a snap to navigate through the phone menu, and the number pad is similar in size to cell phone. The charging port and headphone connection are provided on the bottom of the phone, while the volume control is set to the side. Overall, it's a straightforward design, without any bells or whistles, that gets the job done.
How the Belkin Wi-Fi Phone Works
Although you initially need a computer to sign up for a Skype account, the Belkin only needs an open 802.11 b/g-compatible wireless access point to get you connected.
Once you power up, you can easily configure your Belkin Wi-Fi phone to auto-connect so that within seconds you'll be ready to talk. But if you're on the road, you'll want the option of connecting manually to the strongest available network. Using the center toggle, it's easy enough to navigate to the network settings where you'll see the full list of available networks and their relative signal strengths. You simply choose the one you want to connect to. If the Wi-Fi network offers open access, the Belkin will connect to it automatically; if it requires a password, you'll be prompted to submit it via the phone's keypad.
Without exception, the quality of our overseas Skype-to-Skype calls was as clear as any land line we'd ever used. There were no lags in the conversation, and nothing resembling static.
Once you're connected, the phone will sign you into your Skype account, and you'll be ready to talk. Your "contacts" folder will give you direct access to all of your Skype contacts. Simply navigate to the person you want to call, and if they're signed in, you can be talking to them within seconds. If you want to call a land line, you use the key pad to dial the number the old fashioned way. And while you lose some of the Skype features with the Belkin that you otherwise have with your computer, such as the ability to initiate conference calls, you gain the freedom of being able to roam within the range of any accessible wireless network as you talk.
Connection Quality and Convenience
We tested the Belkin Wi-Fi for Skype by calling land lines and cell phones in the continental United States, and by calling overseas to other Skype subscribers. While the quality of the connections within the U.S. to non-Skype users varied, the voice clarity was generally adequate on our end, though in each case the recipient of our calls did not immediately recognize our voice. Also, in each case there was a perceivable lag in the conversation that was intrusive at times.
However, we would normally not use Skype to make non-Skype calls within the U.S. With more than 80 percent of its subscribers outside of the U.S., Skype is ideal for international calls, and it's truly optimized for Skype-to-Skype calling. In our third set of tests, we called fellow Skype subscribers in Europe. Without exception, the quality of our overseas Skype-to-Skype calls was as clear as any land line we'd ever used. There were no lags in the conversation, and nothing resembling static.
None of this is to say that the beta phone we tested was without flaws. In our first round of testing, the phone powered up and connected to our office network seamlessly. However, in subsequent calls using the same network, we had some connection difficulties. Although the Belkin phone could "see" the network, and the password was configured correctly, it simply wouldn't connect. But once we took the phone to a public hot spot, it once again performed flawlessly.
One design problem we encountered involved the phone's power-saving mode. After 30 seconds of inactivity, the screen goes completely dark and the phone appears to be shut down. Changing the screen's "time out" settings had no effect on this. This would not be an issue if the phone had a feature such as a continuous time display or screen saver that indicated that the phone was still powered up. As it stands, however, it's too easy to assume the phone is shut down when the screen is black, and it's therefore easy to inadvertently drain the battery.
But that's a glitch that should easily be rectified, and it did little to take away from our overall conclusion that the Belkin Wi-Fi for Skype is a phone that has the potential of turning your free Skype subscription into an invaluable asset.
- Durable, compact design
- Exceptional clarity with Skype-to-Skype calls
- Eliminates the need for a computer while making Skype calls
- Inconsistent quality of non-Skype calls
- Regulating the power-down mode is problematic
- Phone offers no other multi-media features
- Enjoy free unlimited phone calls over Wi-Fi networks without your PC
- Skype Certified to work just like your existing Skype account
- Connect to any secured or open access WiFi network that does not require browser-based authentication
- Exceptional Voice Quality
- WEP, WPA and WPA2 Supported
- Expected much more
I bought the phone because skype.com recommended it and I wanted to get a reliable phone. Sadly, I did not get a reliable one. First, the design of the phone is not that good. It look much better on the picture. Personally to me, it feels cheap. The worst thing is that it tends to disconnect once in 1-2 hours from my wi-fi network, which is almost in front of the phone and router has an antenna booster. I cannot disable the sound that is associated with the disconnect, so it becomes pretty annoying, especially during the night. Battery life is rather short -- 2 days without using, so I pretty much keep it plugged to the power all the time. The sound quality is not that good but I do not get any echoes. It has a plug for headphone/mic but I did not find any references on where to get a compatible set.
It is an OK phone but for $100+ I would not recommend it and would recommend to wait for the next generations of the phones....more info
- Works Great!
Does Exactly what it suppose to do, i have the Unlimited Country USA Plan, and i currently live overseas, so its perfect when i go to WiFi spots, so that i can call back to the USA and receive calls as if i was back home....more info
- I'm sorry
I'm sorry for what I said in my previous review. I couldn't believe that the phone was a hoax. Then I decided to contact Belkin' Technical support and explained the problem I was facing with the phone. It's very hard to get through over the phone (1-800-223-5546 xt. 2263) to get assistance, so I decided to try in spanish. Finally a technitian explained to me what was wrong. I had to download and update the software in the phone. Once that was done, the telephone (in the meantime) is working wonderfully. The Technitian name is Fernando, although he is not very patient, but very knowlageable. Sincerely I would like to thank him for bringing the telephone to life. Be aware that the instruction in Belkin's website to update are not very accurate. By one hand it says to connect the USB cable, and later on says you didn't have to, and to connect it in a later stage. In any case, as I said earlier, the telephone is working fine.
- Very pleased with this phone
I read all the reviews of this and other wi-fi phones posted on Amazon, and settled for this model. I'm happy with my purchase. I'm deployed to Iraq, and even with the less than desireable internet availability here, the phone works just fine 95% of the time. When it doesn't work, it's because of the slow connection available here (a group of us have satellite internet, but it's still not the most reliable connection). When the connection is good, the phone works perfectly, clear voice with very minimal delay, if any. I can imagine how well this phone must work elsewhere where the internet infrastructure is more reliable than in Iraq. ...more info
- Fine but Very Few Connections
Mine had worked OK. Sounds fine. However, there are very few places it connects. It won't connect if a username and password are required, no way to enter those. At many open wifi spots it gives a cannot connect to the Internet message. It will only connect in very few places. Beware....more info
- Just plain awful
This phone is a neat idea executed horribly. Generally a poor user interface. Very poor call quality - echo and static (even standing right next to the wireless router). Sound quality is abysmal, everything sounds tinny and flat. The worst part is the charge lasts for almost no time, I just used it with 80% charge showing and it died 12min into the call! No warning that the battery is low.
Save your money. I hope the next generation of wifi VoIP phones get a whole bunch better....more info
- Not in China
Product works great but my primary reason was to use when traveling international. I even bought a travel wireless hub but can Skype from computer but China telecom's won't let you connect the phone! Check out limited countries where you can connect....more info
- does drop calls
I generally like this product however; it does drop calls and I can't seem to update the software...from 2007 which may fix the dropping thing.......more info
- Nice product, but needs work
Nice idea, but no speaker phone, and the earpiece volume and ringer was too low to keep it....more info
- Funciona sin problemas.
Buen telefono Wi-Fi.... funciona bien, facil configuracion y rapida conexion a la red.
El aparato es levemente mas grande, mas liviano (demasiado para mi gusto) y de una construccion menos solida comparado con un telefono celular actual, los botones y el stick de navegacion funcionan OK.
La calidad del sonido es buena y las llamadas en general se logran sin problemas, manteniendo las limitaciones propias que se encuentran tambien al usar Skype conectado a traves de un computador.
La unica deficiencia es la duracion de la bateria.... en general no mas de 48 horas con un uso moderado.
Por ultimo destacar su utilidad para estar conectado telefonicamente las 24 horas del dia a todo el mundo, a un bajo costo, sin la necesidad de tener el computador encedido....more info
I recieved my Belkin Wi-Fi phone about a week ago and will be dropping my home phone service at the end of the month. However, I will be keeping my cell phone pay as you go plan. This is because I can not get a Canadian number from skype. So I have a Michigan number which is local to my sister. When I make calls from Skype it looks like I am calling from my cell phone. There is a slight delay in using the phone but it is easy to anticipate and conversations go smoothly. On rare occasions I have gotten a bad connection, solved by hanging up and calling back. The phone has no bells and whisltes. No camera, surfing the net etc. It is a basic phone, which is fine by me. It is easy and straight forward to use. Set up is easy. The screen attracts dust, dirt and greese like mad but not a problem once I put a LCD screen protector on. 3 for 10 loonies at best buy. I have had no problem using it around town. It connects at McDonalds, Starbucks, all the hotels I have stopped at and when driving around town I can usually find an unsecured network. Setting it up at home was as easy as typing in my WEP passkey. It must be recharged everyday. Enough said. I am thinking about getting a usb charger for the car. I have seen them at Best Buy. This phone is going to save me $720/year. How can anyone agrue with that. I love this phone and when Skype starts providing Canadian local numbers I will drop the cell phone as well. ...more info
- Good Skype phone, but I want some additions
I bought the Belkin to help me with Skype access in three different office locations. The phone automatically works in all three locations, and each location has a different security key (WEP). The only drawback is that we use Skype chat a lot, and the phone doesn't support that. The other Skype users get a message that I am using a version of Skype that doesn't support chat, so its not a big problem, but I would like to at least receive my chats.
Voice quality is as good as a cell phone, except for a few network thruput problems (happens with Skype on a PC too).
The battery last 1-2 days usually, mostly two days. Since the battery recharges thru a standard USB port (and has a plug-in recharger), I can recharge it in the car lighter socket, wall socket, and off my laptop computer. I have the car lighter socket recharger from a different product....more info
- Good, but with exceptions ...
Handy phone, however very sensitive to wireless reception. The phone disconnects easy when the wireless strength is less than a quarter, which does not happen with other phones i.e. the Iphone from Linksys. Otherwise the phone is equal to and not really better. A good product with limits....more info
- It works but is unstable
This phone did not live up to my expectations. The wifi connection is not stable enough for long conversations. Otherwise, it presents a good package and software. I suggest going for a wired solution with standard DECT communication from base to phone if you plan to replace your landline, and not carry the phone around....more info
- Excellent Product
I have had this product for a month now and have used it to call people all over the USA and have not had any problems. My secure wireless connection at home is on 24/7 and I can pick up my Belkin Wi-Fi phone at any time and it never once did not make a connect. Set up was way too easy. I got into the Skype plan when they offered $14.95 unlimited calls to USA and Canada for a year. Great plan and great phone. Two of my friends that have used it are going to get one....more info
- HORRIBLE... get the NetGear one instead
This product is the worst. I should've read the reviews before getting it. Plug-n-play... not even close. Would not connect to my LinkSys router even with my settings as wide open as Lindsay Lohan. The user interface is clumsy and the tech support was a joke. When I started asking some tough questions about the device, the poor guy on the other line I think started to cry. Anyway, I bought the NetGear SPH200w and it worked right out of the box. Excellent job, nicely done. User interface was intuitive and setup was a piece of cake. I am an IT guy and I probably could've forced the Belkin device to work but that was not the point... the point was that Belkin represents this product as something my technophobiac parents could use and that is simply just not true. Again, get the NetGear....more info
- Sound quality is terrible I ended up returning this phone twice!
This is a terrible phone I wasted my time twice, thinking the first one I got was just a lemon and returned it. The second one arrived and the sound quality was the same as the first phone. Each conversation I had on the phones was basically one-sided, I could hear the other person but they could not hear me. The phone was extremely easy to connect to my att installed wireless router and took less than 2 minutes to get it working and downloading my Skype address book. So after getting the second one that was doing the same thing I thought that it might be my internet connection speed. I so I ran a speed test with my notebook in the same location as the phone and the speed far exceeded what Skype requires, in fact when I use Skype on my notebook it works anywhere in my house perfectly. The phone is a great concept, and I would like to find one that works just as good as using Skype on the computer. It seems that several companies are selling the same phone with just a few minor changes to the case, so I am not sure if it is worth wasting my time and buying a the same thing, but by a different company. As far as I am concerned, unless lightening strikes twice, this phone is not worthless. ...more info
- Not really...
I bought this phone from Amazon in January. I had high hopes to use this product even the reviews were mixed. I tried this phone all over the world on different network configurations and different types of calls. The biggest problem with this device is the inconsistency with the call quality. Sometimes the phone will be perfect on a call and other times it will have echos, feedback, cuts, etc. I would claim to be a techie and solve most of the problems, and for whatever reason, its not the network (since my computer on Skype can have better call quality than the phone), but its the phone.
I have to give this product a 1 star because I cannot rely on it at all. I end up having to use my computer which works much better for Skype than this phone. I might as well thrown away my money. Still waiting for a self contained wifi skype phone that is reliable and has the call quality as my computer....more info
- Do not recommend
I have been very disappointed with this phone. The screen is too small, it is impossible to tell if it is on (the screen goes off and there is not indicator anywhere. The battery life is short. It does not connect to my home wifi network (I have tried everything I can think of) but the biggest problem is the inability to click through the acceptance screen that more and more wifi spots seem to use. I would say I can only use it successfully about 20% of the time max. I would wait for the next generation, or two......more info
- Excellent product
This wi-fi phone works wonderfully well, it connects anywhere where there is a free connection, and it is easy to insert a password if necessary. The only thing I would like future versions to have is several users to be on the memory of the phone. Now a new user and password has to be entered upon changing users. But if it is used by only one person, it is an excellent phone to have. I can recommend it....more info
- Belkin Skype phone
Good product. It does however drop the signal and lose the network constantly. Its very poor voice quality on international skype out calls, and I have to revert back to my computer and headset to make important calls - that kind of defeats the object of having the phone....more info
- Belkin Wi-Fi Phone
I wanted to get this phone because I spend a lot of time at a vacation home in San Felipe, Mexico. I have a Tel Cell phone that cost me $2 a minute to call the states. With the Wi-Fi phone it cost .021 cents per minute. We have a great wireless router and we talk all the time with no problems. This works great for our family. I think it will pay for itself within just a few vacationing weekends....more info
- Good, not great
Pros: I got rid of my home phone and a years worth of unlimited Skype calling only cost $14.99. Overall the phone works good most of the time. Just don't use it during a job interview or for proposing to your girlfriend because it may cut out, drop the call, add an echo, or die from low battery.
Cons: The person you call sees 'restricted' as the caller ID number so many won't answer. The battery life is pretty bad ~1hour. Sometimes it cuts out or you hear an echo but that doesn't happen too often. It really needs a docking/charging cradle, they built charging contacts onto the bottom of the phone but the cradle must not have been ready by release time so it isn't included. ...more info
- Dissapointing Performance
I ordered this and then returned it about a month later.
Set up was easy enough and everything seemed fine. The phone appeared to have connected to Skype just fine.
However, about half the time, if someone would call my Skype-In number, the phone just wouldn't ring and their call would go straight to voice mail. It could have been a defective unit, but for some reason the product just didn't work for me....more info
- The Phone Is OK - But has problems
I agree with some of the posters on here. The phone feels real cheap and the buttons are hard to push. The battery life is bad. I leave the phone hooked up to the charger and if I make a call- you have about 30 mins of battery before it dies.
Phone call quality is good and it does interfase with Skype well. If the phone was 49.95- it say it was good deal. It is no way a 150.00 phone....more info
- It's good enough and it works
One thing everyone who is buying this kind of product should be aware of is that the quality is entirely dependent on two things:
(1) WiFi strength and reliability
(2) ISP Service - Bandwidth / Reliability
If both the WiFi and Internet service are reliable and provide sufficient bandwidth the voice quality within this product will be good. If either of the two items mentioned above are questionabile so will this product. With that being said, both my WiFi and Internet services that I've used for this review both home and at parents' and in each scenario the Belkin Skype phone worked well. I received calls / made calls and the clarity was good. Although nowhere near as good as a POTS line. The voice quality is comparable to an analog cellular service. Battery life on this phone is mediocre.
If you are involved in over 5 calls in a given day you will be recharging this phone at the end of the night. The phone uses a traditional USB connection so its a breeze charging and is fairly quick (1.5 hrs to recharge on 1 bar) whether from a computer or a traditional electrical socket. The pricing model for Skype makes this very attractive. I bought this as a second home phone line for one of my teenagers. Granted it has some portability if you aware heading a location that has free WiFi. Over all its good phone, service is good and cost effective. It's not a replacement for cellular and nor does it support 911 emergency calls its so be aware of its limitations and its dependencies up front and you will be most likely satisfied with both the product and service....more info
- Low ring
I bought this product but returned it. Technically, phone works fine; however, its ring tone is too low and I felt that was going to be an inconvenience. So I sent it back. But like I said the phone works fine + it was easy to make it connect to the router. ...more info