Review Price free/subscription
The ClearSky comes in two parts – the USB Bluetooth dongle and the handset itself. There is no dock and to charge you must use the supplied USB cable, which is a mini USB connection. It is worth noting that you can't connect to the phone by USB, this is only used for charging.
Installing the device was pretty easy using the supplied CD. Part way through the installation you are instructed to insert the Bluetooth dongle and press OK. Upon doing so, it then goes through all the tedious driver install windows automatically for you, so that you don't have to sit there pressing next 163 times.
Once the software was installed and the machine reset, I went into pairing mode on the handset and then it was all picked up and configured automatically by the software. Skype then told me that a device was trying to take control of it and then everything was working. A very quick and very easy set up that anyone can handle.
The Bluetooth adapter uses the Microsft stack, and we had no luck getting Trendnet's software to work on a notebook we had using the IVT Blue Soleil chipset. If your notebook uses the same chipset, it is possible that you could get rid of the need for the Bluetooth dongle but I wouldn't rely on it.
My initial thought on the handset is that it felt really cheap. Upon using it, I felt this again as the interface is really slow to react. Trying to type in a phone number at my normal pace caused it to miss most of the numbers. Instead, I had to verify each number had come up on screen before typing in the next.
One click of the contacts button and you have a full list of your contacts including their current status. However, there was no way to skip to a particular person by pressing a letter on the keypad, instead you must manually skip through each name on your list, which on this slow interface is a painful experience.
I tried adding a new contact while the handset was on the contact page and nothing happened, however going to a different menu item and then coming back to it was all it took to refresh the list.
The phone does pretty much everything that Skype does – including call history and the ability to change your current status. There is a selection of four unoffending MIDI ring tunes, and an option to use a 2.5mm headset.
Volume control is thanks to a rocker switch on the left of the device. There is no speakerphone, which I definitely missed.
As it is Bluetooth, in theory you can use the phone up to 100m away – but naturally this will vary depending on your set up. From experience I wouldn't rely on being able to use it much further than outside of the room.
Charging was surprisingly quick and TRENDnet boasts a six hour talk time and 60 hour standby time. This seems like quite a lot, but when you think about it – all this is, is a Bluetooth audio handset - all of the encoding is still done on the computer.
Aside from the slow interface though, the handset works well and does everything that you need a Skype phone to use.
The Trendnet ClearSky (TVP-SP1BK) is very easy to set up and I found the audio quality to be satisfactory for phone calls. The slow interface is a real downside, but you can initiate the phone call from within Skype itself which is a lot faster. However, this begs the question of whether a handset is even needed. If you are going to use Skype itself to control the phone aspect of things – why not just use a Bluetooth headset? Not only are these cheaper, but it could also be used with a mobile phone when away from the desk.
At £78.99, this seems like a lot of money for what is a very simple device. For that kind of cash I would expect a lot more for my money and as such I'd look for alternatives.
Trusted Reviews is part of the Time Inc. (UK) Ltd Technology Network