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You're spoilt for choice if you want a basic mobile Skype phone. Most networking vendors are offering a solution although these are, in reality, nothing more than variations on the same theme. We've even seen the latest 3 Skypephone, which combines a standard mobile and Skype services, although we weren't overly impressed with it for a number of reasons.
Unfortunately, none of these address the needs of the home user that want access to Skype and standard PSTN landline services from the same handset. Netgear was one of the first to tackle this with its SPH200 but now Solwise moves in to keep it company with its V500-DS IP Telephone. This is essentially an Aztech V500DS-S1 and although in function it's very similar to the Netgear in form there are substantial differences.
Whereas the SPH200D has a separate base station and phone cradle, the V500 combines all its functions into a single unit, so it'll need to be placed near to network and landline connections. With the Netgear solution you can leave the base station out of sight and place the handset anywhere it can receive a signal from it. Both products are capable of supporting three more base stations but Solwise also offers a DECT repeater allowing the range to be extended by up to 100 per cent.
Another difference between the Netgear and Solwise products centres on base station management. With the SPH200D you have full web browser access where the homepage provides general information about the system with details of your uptime, the firmware version and network addresses. Three modes of Internet access are supported and you can directly access the Skype service, create a new account from here, enter login details of an existing account and see if you are currently logged in. Solwise offers none of these features as although the base station can be accessed via a browser it is password protected and these details are not provided.
Installation will depend on your Internet access setup although most will probably have a router providing DHCP services. If this is the case you just plug the base station into your network, power up the handset, accept the Skype terms and conditions and either create a new account or enter existing details.
For testing we used our Sipgate (www.sipgate.co.uk) account and were up and running in a matter of minutes. In practise the lack of base station web access is no big deal as once your Skype access is functioning there's no need to use it anyway. If you don't have a DHCP server on the LAN you can enter static IP address details directly from the phone where you'll also need to include a gateway address along with DNS servers as well.