Holiday Buyer's Guide 2006, Part 2: Networking

VoIP

Again, I'll start with what not to buy, which are any of the Wi-Fi Skype phones that finally hit the shelves a few months ago. The phones from SMC and Belkin are essentially the same, while Netgear's SPH101 looks similar but uses a different hardware design that includes a speakerphone. The reason for my thumbs-down is that at between $150 - $200, they are too expensive for what they do, which is to let you make Skype voice calls while connected to an 802.11b or g wireless network. The big negatives are short and/or inconsistent battery life, inability to authenticate with any hotspot that requires you to launch a web browser to connect and no text chat capability.

A much better gift for a frequent Skyper - especially someone who uses Skype for business calls - is Polycom's Communicator speakerphone. It's a snap to set up and provides excellent voice quality in both directions. At around $130, it's a bit pricey, but well worth it.

Polycom Communicator Skype Speakerphone

Return to the Holiday Buyer's Guide 2006 index page.

 

Part 3: Components & Peripherals

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