Though mobile contracts are generally far more agreeable here in Asia, than what I have seen in Canada or the US, I still used to get nailed by hidden roaming charges whenever I was traveling around the region. For some reason it didn’t occur to me that accepting a call or sms would cost me so much money. I learned my lesson the hard way and bought a cheap Panasonic mobile phone for use when I am traveling – pop in a cheap local sim card and I am good to go. Now with the proliferation of cheap or free wifi through-out Asia we now have even more economical options (I don’t mean to make this sound like this is something that just happened yesterday). If you find yourself in some strange Asian city on business, I often advocate getting out of your hotel room and doing some work in a local café (and not the familiar Starbucks). With Skype we can save the phone charges and still keep in touch with contacts all while enjoying the local version of a Latté. There are a number of products that make using Skype a more comfortable and enjoyable experience.
You can either jump to each products individual page or simply keep scrolling below.
- Plantronics Voyager 510 Bluetooth Headset
- VoSky Call Center Review
- NETGEAR Skype WiFi Phone
- Logitech Premium USB Headset 350
- Sony VN-CX1 Skype Mouse Phone
- IPEVO Free-1 USB Phone
- Motorola Talk & Tunes Wireless Internet Calling Kit
Motorola Talk & Tunes Wireless Internet Calling Kit
The recently announced (and widely reported) Motorola Talk & Tunes Wireless Internet Calling Kit with stereo, jointly developed by Motorola and Skype, might be a fun choice, especially if you like to listen to music while you work, without missing important calls. Because it uses Bluetooth the kit allows you to roam up to 30 feet away from your laptop, allowing you tether free use of Skype. A valuable feature of the device is that the headset is capable of automatically pausing the music when a call comes, and thus alerting you of an incoming call. I wouldn’t expect anything in the way of high fidelity from this headset as Bluetooth doesn’t seem capable of providing the through-put necessary to allow that to happen. It’s unfortunate that they went for the design they did with the headset – I always found this style to be the least comfortable. Link: Hello Motorola.
IPEVO Free-1 USB Phone
Admittedly the least mobile of the choices I am presenting but if you prefer the traditional feel of a phone the IPEVO Free-1 USB Phone is a better choice. It looks great too. If you use a Mac this is the Skype device for you as it is one of the few Skype certified devices to work on the platform. Manufacturer’s Description: Free-1 is an advanced USB phone specially made for active Skype users. With lightweight and stylish design, it is a lot more fun using Skype! Programmable buttons provides users with higher level of convenience. It allows users to have better control of Skype and make SkypeOut calls via the keypad. Ten different ring tones alert users of incoming calls. Other functions include volume control, mic mute, speed dial, and LED light indication.
Sony VN-CX1 Skype Mouse Phone
Combining the function of a usb mouse and a skype phone, the VN-CX1 by Sony is great piece of space saving design. The Sony VN-CX1 acts like a normal mouse (optical sensor system) when it’s closed and opened up, it can be used like a telephone with a loud speaker. It looks like a perfect device for traveling with a laptop. One caveat which may or may not apply, if you happen to use this with your desktop you won’t be able to use the phone and the mouse at the same time. No word on Mac compatibility. Costs $99.00US from Audio Cubes. (via Product Dose).
Logitech Premium USB Headset 350
This headset is what I use when I make calls via Skype – they are nothing fancy but I can confirm that they do work and sound great. The fact that they work seamlessly on my Powerbook was a primary consideration for me. One of the touted features of the Logitech headset is it’s microphones ability to filter out unwanted background noise which is supposed to provide the highest possible sound quality. I have used these in cafés with no problems – certainly recommended. They are listed for about $50.00US at Logitech.
NETGEAR Skype WiFi Phone
“A mobile phone that enables you to make free Internet calls to anyone else in the world who has Skype.” Their brief write-up succinctly sums up what this device does and if it actually becomes available, it’s planned for mid 2006, then this will be the most appealing approach to using Skype on the go. It’s features and design certainly look appealing – pre-loaded with Skype (including the Skype interface) and ready to use with a wireless network out of the box. I’ll be looking forward to this one if and when it is released. The phone faq and the general product page. The sign-up form to know when it will become available.
Plantronics Voyager 510 Bluetooth Headset
Bluetooth head sets are pretty common these days, with some differentiating themselves in terms of form factor, ergonomics, and features through software. I could never get used to using my Sony Ericsson headset simply because it never felt right and looked far too much like something that belonged on the set of Star Trek. Also, the process of pairing it to my phone was a pain – far too cumbersome. The Plantronics Voyager 510 may arguably not have made much improvement in terms of the way it looks but like the Motorola Talk & Tunes Wireless Internet Calling Kit it makes innovations in terms of usage.
The main improvement that the Plantronics introduces is it’s support for the new Bluetooth V1.2 protocol, which allows multipoint connectivity so users can switch easily between Bluetooth devices. For us this means that this headset can function simultaneously as both a headset for Skype (via your laptop) and your mobile phone – it will be ready to talk on whether your cell phone rings or if your skype phone rings. A solution to a problem we new existed but had begrudgingly adapted to. It’s quite interesting that so few companies have caught on to this seemingly simple feature. I think this will be replacing my Logitech USB Headset though I still won’t wear it out in public. About $42.00US at Amazon
Sponsor: Skype lets you make free calls over the Internet. It’s free to download and you can add on voicemail for a weenie fee.