First of all, I think Skype is great as a service. Free computer to computer calls, very cheap SkypeOut calls to most of the world (even Latvia cut its odd-man out outrageous prices somewhat), and I am even thinking of getting a SkypeIn number for my virtual presence in Sweden. I have used Skype to get in touch with my family in the US, to chat with various people by text, to record a few interviews with a recorder plug-in to the application, even to attempt a few video calls on my Mac.
Because we (my wife is a filmmaker and we have a small Swedish-registered company) have been thinking of getting a SkypeIn Swedish number, I thought of getting a free-standing Skype phone to keep around and on-line to take any calls here in Riga (or at least zap them to voicemail) to the Stockholm number.
By chance, the most excellent PR cheerleaders (never a week goes by without a Skype press release or two and a Skype event in Tallinn I will attend on December 20) Hill & Knowlton and their most enthusiastic and competent person, Egita, offered to lend me a Skype phone for testing.
I write all this so that the following tirade is understood as NOT being directed against either Skype or their PR folks.
Put simply, the wireless DualPhone given to me is a worthless piece of shit.
That's the short review. The longer story is that the nicely boxed gadget promises what it cannot deliver and does not even give an overview of how it really works. There is a wireless phone in the box that turns on and leaves the intuitive impression that it runs on WiFi. I even had my WEP protected WiFi password ready...but nothing happens.'
OK, OK RTFM! But the FM only in passing refers to a base station that has to be plugged into one's internet modem or router.
So we move right along from plug and play to finding where the fuck to plug it -- which is my problem, because the cubby-hole home office I have doesn't have enough extensions and outlets. I unplug a printer and do some work arounds and plug in the charger and the base station (a kind of black pod with a red miniature I am HAL the deranged 1968 version of a 2001 computer light on the front). HAL the pod's eye blinks. I press a reset button according to the MFM (my love of this piece of literature grows). At one point, we get a steady red light, and the base station is attached to my D-Link wireless router with an Ethernet cable. The phone offers me a chance to sign into my existing Skype account. So I start writing my Skype name.,
Up pops this dumb-as-fuck secondary menu that suggest which of the three or four letters on the keypad I should use and when I hesitate, it pops one in for me. My password requires capitals, so to get those, you go to upper case and then yet another thingy appears indicating that the phone is in caps mode. To get out of caps mode, I have to go through numerical mode with a click. Ok, done.
The phone sits there trying to sign on. It has another doohickey indicating that it is in touch with the base station (I think). After more than a minute, nothing. Try Again?
Oh yes, did I mention that after the user-hostile process of entering the Skype name and password, the phone offers to remember this. Great, I think, now on pressing retry, I will just sign on automatically. Turns out this half-brained piece of junk remembers only the Skype name and the password has to be re-entered through the same fuck-the-user interface.
It still doesn't work!.
I am writing this early on a Sunday afternoon, and, maybe, by evening, I could actually, by trial and error, get the fucker to work. But that is not the point.
Skype on my iMac or G4 Powerbook is something I can use in less than one minute. Double click..wait..wait..wait..then a SHOOP sound and the windows appear and my online contacts appear in green and I can be chatting or talking to one of them even before the minute has ended.
Any Skype phone should work out of the box and, for my personal preferences, it should be a WiFi device that can stay connected to my always on D-link and always-on DSL line, so I can, indeed, make and take calls without my "PC" (thanks, I hope to remain without a PC for a very long time, except my present job where I have to use one of these cludges from time to time).
Skype -- Niklas, you Estonian guys and gals and the owners at eBay -- dump this piecashit and disown its use of the Skype name. And Dualphone -- go back to baking pastries (seems the company is Danish??). Had they been (and probably, at the manufacturing level, are, Chinese, I would have set, go back to making noodles and let the thousands of Chinese companies that produce useful electronics get on with it).
I hope to get a "real" Skype phone, but no, never this one....