Philips VOIP433 (Windows Live Messenger)
- Dual VoIP and PSTN functionality, Can take two calls at the same time, Ease of use, Cordless
- Can’t message MSN contacts, Screen too small, Can only view contacts by username, No Mac support
The VOIP433 is a welcome addition to the VoIP market and the fact that it doubles as a standard cordless telephone is a real bonus.
Price$ 159.95 (AUD)
The Philips VOIP433 is an interesting new VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) phone that allows users to make and receive internet calls using a Windows Live Messenger account. The VOIP433 also acts as a regular cordless telephone and includes a colour display as well as an easy to use interface.
The best feature of the VOIP433 is that users aren't required to sit at their PC to make VOIP calls, thanks to its cordless design. The fact that this unit doubles as an ordinary cordless landline (PSTN) telephone also means it is essentially two products combined into one.
Calling using Windows Live Messenger is a simple process thanks to the messenger key on the bottom of the handset. You simply sign into messenger on your PC, and then press this button to bring up your full contact list on the VOIP433's colour display. The interface is very similar to the PC version of messenger but our main complaint is with the screen. Its small size means it can only show three lines of text at once, so if you have a long contact list scrolling to the bottom is a lengthy process. The small screen also means long nicknames do not fit on the display. However, the VOIP433 does allow you to quickly scroll to the first letter of any username using the keypad and you can even change your online status through the phone.
The VOIP433 only allows you to view contacts by their username, even if you choose to view your contacts via their email address on Windows Live Messenger itself. Perhaps the most disappointing omission from the handset is the ability to send text messages over MSN using the VOIP433. Although voice calling is handy, we aren't aware of too many people who use this as their primary form of Windows Messenger communication.
The quality of calls using Windows Live Messenger is about average. We experienced a slight echo of our own voice in the first few calls, but this can be combated by adjusting the microphone volume. Call clarity is not outstanding, but there are no major problems and we could clearly make out our caller's voice. Generally, the call quality of VoIP phones is network dependant so a better internet connection usually results in clearer calls.
The VOIP433 can also be used as a regular landline phone and users are able to switch between VoIP and PSTN modes without any fuss. When a call from both Windows Live Messenger and your regular landline are received at the same time, you can choose which one to answer by pressing either the 'phone' or 'PC' tabs that are seated above the selection buttons. Furthermore, if you are on a VoIP call and a landline call comes in, you can receive the second incoming call from the other line. A call waiting tone is played and the caller ID shown on the display and you can then choose to accept or reject the call. Philips also includes a 100-name address book, 10 polyphonic ring tones and a hands-free speakerphone.
The VOIP433 is a two piece unit - the handset and cradle, as well as a separate box that connects to your PC (via USB) and landline telephone. The box interacts wirelessly with the handset, so your Windows Live Messenger contacts and their online status are streamed to the phone. Unfortunately, the VOIP433 only works with the latest version of Windows Live Messenger: there is no support for Mac.
The phone design is fairly standard and besides the Windows Live Messenger branding, you'd be hard pressed to tell it was a VoIP phone. The buttons are large and easy to press, although the four-way navigational pad isn't as intuitive as it could have been, since it moves too much to ensure steady operation. The keypad has a soft orange backlight, so it's easy to make out in the dark.
The VOIP433 is available in two packages: $159.95 for a single handset or $249.95 for two handsets. The two handset package allows a single home to have a regular landline call and a VoIP Windows Live Messenger call at the same time.
Overall, the VOIP433 is a solid offering from Philips and has a number of excellent features, headed by the ability to make a landline and VoIP call simultaneously. Further developments, such as the ability to text message Windows Live Messenger contacts and a larger, clearer screen would make it even more appealing.
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