The Netgear SPH200D is a cordless phone that allows you to make calls via Skype without the need to have your PC switched on. Yes, I know I have been bringing you a lot of these different solutions lately, but this offering from Netgear takes things one step further…
OK, so over the past month we have looked at a cordless Skype handset from Belkin, a handset that incorporated wireless calls with a mobile phone from Tovo, and now Netgear have the SPH200D, which is brand new to the market.
The SPH200D allows you to make those all important and often free Skype calls, but it also incorporates a DECT handset, so you can make normal landline calls via your regular provider (eg. BT).
What you get in this package is pretty impressive. You get the handset itself, which is a really nice white and silver affair. It sports a full colour screen, nice backlit buttons, and a four way rocker button. There are additional buttons for intercom, mute and the built in speakerphone. Also in the box you get a receiver module, it looks like a mini ethernet hub. You plug this into a power socket, then one cable goes into your router, or ethernet network, and the other cable connects to a spare phone socket. The last nice addition to this package is a docking station. You can locate this pretty much anywhere in your house, as long as you can plug it in with the supplied power adapter. This dock is where you sit your handset when not in use, and it keeps the juice topped up too.
When the handset first powers up, all you have to do is sign into your Skype account. You then have access to all your contacts, call history, and you can set your status, in exactly the same way as you do on your computer based Skype application. You can also change the ring tones, display brightness and contrast, in pretty much the same way as you would a mobile phone. If you are calling a Skype contact, then the call is free, completely free. Or you can call a regular phone through your Skype account. This is called a SkypeOut call and depending on what subscription or promotion you are on, there may be a small charge.
Now for what makes the SPH200D really useful…>>> the DECT (Digital Enhanced Cordless Communications) capability. Most households have cordless DECT phones nowadays. The SPH200D has this too and it makes this a really invaluable package. When you dial in a number or choose to call a regular landline or mobile phone from your contacts, you are given an option. You simply select to either make a SkypeOut call or a Landline call. This is brilliant, because now you have the best of both worlds. You can use Skype when it is cheapest for you to do so, and make regular calls when Skype is not the best option.
Before I tell you that you MUST buy this product, just a little snippet about Skype. I am currently on a promotion where I get totally free national calls in the UK for the next six months. If you are not on this promotion then regular Skype works like this.
If you are calling a Skype user, for example someone who has Skype on their Mac or PC, then the call is free. However, if you are calling a mobile, landline or an international number, then you will be charged. You basically have to keep your Skype credit topped up. The rates are very good though, especially on international calls.
There is also a new service called Skype Pro. An initial 5 month subscription will cost £9.20 which includes approximately £3.40 of calling credit, after the 5 months introductory period is over £1.50 per month is deducted from your Skype credit.
The Pro benefits are that you only pay a 3p connection fee per call to UK landlines, with nothing extra for the minutes you use. You also get free voicemail, plus a discount on a SkypeIn number. The regular Skype-to-Skype computer based calls remain free.
OK, so enough on Skype, back to the Netgear SPH200D. This is the best combination product I have seen so far and it has got me really excited. Since I have had it to review it has worked flawlessly and has not failed me once. The design is awesome, with a crisp glossy white finish. You can even expand the system with up to three additional SPH150D handsets (£65-£70), so you can have Skype and DECT in every room. The average street price is around £105 though I have seen it dip under the £100 mark if you shop around. This pricing is very good and buys you a top class product that is not only a real pleasure to use, but will also save you a lot of money.