Phillips VOIP841 Takes Skype Beyond Your Computer

13 Comments

As a voice service, Skype is different from other VoIP (voice over IP) services such as Vonage because it usually requires you to be attached to your computer either on a headset or using your onboard microphone and speakers.  This “tied down” factor is what motivated Skype to partner with hardware manufacturers to take Skype beyond the computer.

VOIP841There are handsets that plug in to your USB port that look like a traditional wireline phone along with units that use your wireless network and look like a cell phone.  However Philips took a different approach with their VOIP841 product.  It looks like a very stylish traditional cordless phone but features a color LCD screen that features the normal Skype look and feel.

The VOIP841 can make calls over traditional landline and via Skype by connecting directly to your broadband access point, not the computer.

One major advantage for web workers the VOIP841 presents is the ability to make global calls at Skype’s ridiculously cheap prices.  Currently to call most places in Europe, their rate is around 2 cents a minute.


Opening the box

When you open the box, you see the base for the VOIP841 which is shiny piano black and about the size of a small wireless router.  Additionally you get the cordless handset itself, a charging base, and all the necessary cabling.  Simply plug the base into the wall and into one of the Ethernet ports on your router or cable modem, and theVOIP841 automatically attaches to your network and connects with Skype.  Optionally, you can connect a normal phone wire into the base station as well if you’d like to use the VOIP841 on your normal landline.

Setup

Setup and configuration was remarkably easy with the VOIP841.  The package includes documentation, but I was easily able to connect the device to the Skype network successfully by just following the on-screen menus.  After charging the handset and connecting all the cables to the base station, you’re ready to go.  As the base powers up, the LEDs light up on the base and you’ll hear a pleasant tone as the base connects to the handset. 

The on-screen menu will prompt you to enter in your Skype user name and password.  If you don’t already have one, you can sign up for a Skype account right from the handset.  The menus, icons, and user experience is much like using Skype on a normal computer.

Usage and Performance

The VoIP841 is incredibly easy to use.  From the home menu of the handset you can click “Contacts” and see which of your Skype contacts are available and what their status is.  When you enter in a normal landline phone number, the handset asks you if you’d like to make the call via your landline or SkypeOut.  You can set this preference permanently by setting a preference in the Settings menu.  Call quality, depending on the quality of your broadband connection, was stellar with the VOIP841.  My Skype callers reported that I sounded like I was on a headset.  To me, the callers, both Skype calls and SkypeOut calls, was on-par with any traditional landline call.

Because the phone uses DECT technology, there will be no interference with your microwave or Wi-Fi network.  Philips has done a fantastic job incorporating most of the added Skype features.  Voicemail is supported as the phone features an LED  indicating when you have a voicemail.  Also you can get calls via SkypeIn, and of course through SkypeOut (as noted above).  Ringtones can be purchased, however I found the melodic ringtones that the handset has out of the box were fantastic.  The handset’ speakerphone sounded great to both me and my callers.

Conclusion

The VOIP841 is an incredibly useful tool for web workers.  It takes Skype away from the computer and will allow you to access your Skype contacts in a new way.  If you have a business call to make and you just can’t be in front of your computer, the VOIP841 will make Skype just accessible as your regular cordless phone.  Skype has very affordable international calling rates, and for those who have contacts around the globe, the VOIP841 makes calling them incredibly cheap.

I have found my usage model for Skype has changed by using this Philips Skype phone.  Skype is no longer just an IM/VoIP application that runs on my computer.  Rather, its one of my phone services I have available to me because I can carry the handset it any room with me.  In fact, I’m considering dropping my other phone services altogether.

The VOIP841 is a stylish and attractive phone that combines a great user experience with fantastic Skype and landline call quality.

The VOIP841 has a list price of $149 but hovers around $110 on Amazon.com.

13 Comments

dev

thanks for information In general, people seem to think portable phones are safer than cell phones, but maybe not totally safe.

TelephoneManOfAmerica

The Phillips VOIP841 and other like models like the Netgear SPH 200D have all been discontinued. The main one that is still in production is the GE RCA Thomson 28310EE1 phone. It’s price recently dropped also. You can get if for $69.95 at http://www.shop.telephonemanofamerica.com (http://shop.telephonemanofamerica.com/product.sc?categoryId=24&productId=169).

It is like the Phillips VoIP841 in that it connects to a router and hence is on 24/7 and your computer can be off or you don’t need a computer like MagicJack. If you want to buy a computer for thousands of dollars and let it run 24/7 so you can make cheap calls that’s fine but I wouldn’t do it.

The Ge RCA Thomson 28310EE1 can also conference in landline and Skype lines! With Skype you can also get a Skype IN or VOIP number so normal phones can you call also. (The most cost effective way to use Skype is to get a subscription and to pay for it in 12 month periods – by doing this you also get a discount on a Skype In number – last time I checked it was only $30/yr this way) It can pretty much replace your land line phone if you wanted to. It also is a dual phone so it rings when your land line number is called or your Skype IN number or Skype name. You can also choose how you want to call out – Skype line or land line. For the data sheets and the manual on this phone go to http://www.SkypeMyPbx.com and look in the brochures section. You can also make Skype calls on PBX/Phone system phones by bringing Skype lines via the Actiontec VoSKY Exchange Skype Gateways.

By doing this you get the best of both worlds. Skype’s low rates and the many features of a PBX/Phone system like basic things like transferring a call to another in office phone, Automated Attendant, PBX Voice Mail, Call Que Ability, Music on Hold, Multi Line Hunt Group, etc. A great small business Phone system is the Avaya Partner ACS phone system (see http://www.AvayaPartnerACS.com for more information). Regardless of the PBX/Phone system you have the Skype lines can be added to your PBX by connecting to trunk/line, station/extension, SIP Trunk or T1/E1 Ports. This is done by Actiontec VoSKY Exchange Skype Gateways. For more information on this please go to http://www.SkypeMyPbx.com.

Feel free to contact me (Kelly Petry) at 863-614-1900 or Skype me at TelephonemanOfAmerica with any questions you may have.

Joseph Maniscalco

My Magicjack stinks I can hear the people im calling but they can’t hear me,can anyone help.I can’t call the magicjack co theres no phone number to be found any were!!!

PeterPiper

Also, you can’t send SMS (text messages) on it which means you have to go back to your PC (or your cell phone) to do that.

PeterPiper

The article states that “currently you can call most places in Europe for 2 cents a minute”.

This is only sort-of true. You can call most landlines for that price, but expect to pay ten times as much or more to call a cell phone, due to Europe’s unfortunate and patently unfair “caller pays” policy.

This means that the caller pays for the cell phone minutes of the person receiving the call. For the UK it is 25 cents a minute. And because many people in Europe now have cell-phone only, you actually pay quite high rates to call them, even when you’re in the same country.

The way around is is to talk PC-to-PC (for free), or have them call your cell phone from Skype. They will then pay the price of a regular landline call to the US.

Dana Arnold

do you need to keep the puter on 24/7 in order to use the nagic jack 24/7?

Ed Furst

Question:

With all that bravoo about magicjack, Skype and Vonage, how would I get a DSL
line to connect to the Internet?

zena68

MagicJack allows you to connect any wireless phone and just costs $20 a year – why would you bother with Skype?

DD

Vonage and Skype started from two different ends. Vonage is a router that attaches to your cable modem and stands alone without having a computer, while Skype was just the opposite (more of a MSN, Yahoo messenger thing that expanded). It wasn’t until recently has Skype tried to do the stand-alone like Vonage.

Vonage did the opposite, started with the router and now has a usb key that can make one dependent on the computer.

Just FYI… if you are gonna make the comparison based on dependencies.

Great review nevertheless! Thanks!

stevebob

I received mine from Amazon yesterday and concur with the review – the toughest part of setup for me was remembering my password…

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