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Asus has also built in a voice mail and answer machine system which is accessible from the phone.
Although I had some strange issues at first, a reboot later and things were working fine. In our office we have security bars protecting our windows, and these tend to ruin any wireless signal outside of the office. Reception was fine inside the office, and even a few metres radius outside. In a bar-less household, signal strength should be more than fine (unless you happen to live here).
I found that I had perfect audio quality when chatting with friends over Skype.
On the back of the phone is a speaker, which is fairly loud and makes the speakerphone functionality quite useful. However, this also has another use, as does the headphone jack on the side of the phone.
Since Skype uses the phone as an audio streaming device (when you get down to the nuts and bolts), Asus has added support for streaming music from Windows Media Player, too. By selecting a pre-made playlist, you can then choose these songs from the menu on the phone, in the same way you would an MP3 player. Using the headphone output, you can either put on a pair of headphones, or output to some speakers. Sound quality isn't bad at all, even through the speakerphone it is listenable! It might be nicely positioned in the bedroom for playing a couple of tracks while getting changed in the morning.
Functionality is rather limited for music playback - there is no way for fast forwarding through a track and skipping from track to track is slow. When you launch a song, it actually loads up Media Player and just streams the output to the phone. If you want to, you can just drag an album on to Media Player and it will start playing it - so strictly speaking, you don't need a playlist for every album you own.
As a test, I got someone to phone me on Skype while I was listening to music on the headphones. It instantly cut off the music and I heard ringing instead. I continued to hear the conversation through my headphones and could still speak through the microphone. It might have been nice to have a microphone input also, then a headset could be used, but if you really wanted to do this, you would plug a headset directly in to the computer and not bother with the phone in the first place.
I was generally quite impressed with how well it worked with Media Player. For instance, I turned on shuffle and closed Media Player, which saves this as a setting for next time. When I went to play music, the Asus software automatically turned this off, as not to confuse the player.
The biggest disappointment about this phone is that it still requires the computer to be on and it needs a separate wireless dongle to work. If you look past this issue, it's a solid phone that works reliably. The dock is a nice touch, and the streaming music could be really handy.
At the end of the TRENDnet review, I mentioned how costly it was and how there must be better alternatives. This hands down beats the TRENDnet, with more features, better looks and considerably better software. With an RRP of £69.99, we can expect it to be quite a bit cheaper than this when it hits the market. Well worth considering.
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