Netgear was one of the first to bring a Skype mobile phone to market with its SPH101D which delivered a reasonable range of features although we felt it had a few niggling problems and was also on the pricey side. Since then a number of other vendors have launched remarkably similar products but, to date, these have had some difficulty in gaining acceptance in the home. Netgear’s latest SPH200D aims to remedy this reticence by offering a dual mode phone that can make and accept calls over both standard landlines and Skype.
Netgear has achieved this remarkable feat by combining a DECT cordless mobile phone with a dual-mode base station. The latter comes with an RJ-45 Ethernet port for connection to your home network and an RJ-11 port for linking to a standard telephone landline. You can place the handset anywhere as long as it can receive a signal from the base station. The kit includes one handset but the base station supports three additional SPH150D models although as of the time of review these were not yet on sale.
Setup is extremely simple as all you need to do is make sure the base station is on the same network as your Internet router to allow it to receive an IP address from its DHCP server. After initially charging the handset for the requisite number of hours you switch it on, add details such as your country code and preferred language and then you can enter details of your Skype account. This only took us a few minutes and then we were ready to make calls over the Internet.
The base station also has a web browser management interface and you can find out what its IP address is from the handset by selecting the DHCP option in the Settings menu. Point a browser at this address and you can log in to the base station where you’ll be presented with a basic but informative interface. The home page provides general information about the system with details of your uptime, the firmware version and network addresses. The base station supports three modes of Internet access and defaults to accepting a dynamic IP address but you can use PPPoE or enter a static address if required. Note that you can access all these settings and modify them directly from the handset.