Netgear Australia SPH200D
- Doesn't require a PC, telephone book for Skype and landline contacts, decent call quality
- Design, controls, slow user interface, no handset locator on charging cradle
The SPH200D is convenient if you are a regular Skype user, and is only hindered by a bland design and a slow user interface.
Price$ 329.00 (AUD)
The NETGEAR SPH200D is a cordless Skype phone that doubles as a regular landline telephone. The selling point of the SPH200D is the fact that it doesn't require a PC to operate. Instead it just uses a broadband Internet connection through a router or modem, and a regular telephone line. Despite the convenience, a few design and interface issues hinder what is otherwise a decent product.
The SPH200D consists of three main parts; a phone, a charging dock and a base station. The base station has two inputs on its rear; one connecting a standard RJ-45 Ethernet cable to your modem or router, and the other a standard RJ-11 telephone line jack. Both the base station and the charging dock require AC power. The design of the SPH200D is separated to allow users to put the base station near their PC and the charging dock where they would normally keep their standard cordless telephone.
Setup is as simple as connecting all the appropriate cords and plugging both the base station and the charging cradle into AC power. The SPH200D batteries come pre-charged, but NETGEAR recommends a charge before the first use. Users can configure the SPH200D with an existing Skype account, or can even create a new Skype account on the phone itself. This process is as easy as entering your country and area codes, typing in a username and password, accepting the Skype agreement and signing into your account. The SPH200D also allows users to save their Skype name and password for automatic sign in, so you don't have to enter your password each time.
In-call quality is decent, but not outstanding. Keep in mind that the quality of a Skype call depends on a number of factors which are out of your control, including the quality and reliability of your Internet connection. Our Skype test calls did experience some unwanted echo and background hissing noise. For most part however, the SPH200D worked well during a number of calls. For landline calls, the SPH200D doesn't stack up against a standard cordless phone, but the quality is good enough to hold a clear conversation.
The SPH200D supports SkypeOut, SkypeIn and Skype Voicemail. Dialling a Skype or landline call is the same process, as you simply dial the phone number, press the green call button and then use the navigational pad to select either "SkypeOut" or "Landline". Alternatively, there is a phonebook to store contacts, and conveniently, your Skype contact list is automatically downloaded to the handset the first time you sign in.
The SPH200D's user interface is easy to use, with clearly marked menus and coloured backgrounds; unfortunately, scrolling through long lists (the phonebook for example) can become tiresome, as you can't hold down the navigational pad to scroll quickly. The main screen of the phone provides various status indicators, including a reception indicator, battery life indicator, and a number of notifications including missed calls, voicemail, keypad lock and silent mode. The main display also shows your Skype online status and account name, the current time, and the amount of Skype credit your account has available. In the menu, you can change you Skype status, set the time, check you call history, search for other Skype users and access the phonebook.
The design of the SPH200D is the biggest let down, as it doesn't feel solid, nor is it comfortable in your hand. The controls consist of a five-way navigational pad, two selection buttons, answer/end call keys and keypad. Unfortunately, the controls feel awkward; they are small, and their rubber design means they require a firm press to activate, although the soft green backlit keys are ideal for night time use. An annoying exclusion is the fact that there is no "locate handset" button on the charging cradle.
Battery life is above average according to NETGEAR figures of up to 12 hours of talk time and up to 120 hours of standby time. The SPH200D runs off two AAA, rechargeable batteries and these are included in the sales package. The phone is charged simply by docking it in the included cradle.
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