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The scoop: Skype Wi-Fi Phone (model SPH101) by Netgear, about $220.
What it is: The SPH101 looks like a cell phone, but instead of paying lots of money to a wireless carrier the device lets you make free phone calls over Skype through a Wi-Fi connection. A PC is not needed. As long as you have a Skype account (which is free), you can enter that information into the phone, and it will automatically download your contacts to the phone once connected to a network. The device includes a color screen, a cell-phonelike interface with its keypad placement and minijoystick. It will support free Skype-to-Skype phone calls, and free calls to regular U.S. and Canadian phone numbers through year-end.
Why it's cool: Because there's no PC needed, you don't have to be tethered to a PC in order to make Skype calls. You can roam around your home or office, or take it on the road to stay connected with contacts. The device was extremely easy to set up.
Some caveats: The phone doesn't support browser-based authentication systems for Wi-Fi hot spots, so using this on the road a lot may become a problem. Typical sound quality in terms of Skype calls - there are the usual potential issues of latency, bandwidth and whether the person you're calling has a headset or is listening to you through their speakers.
Grade: 4 stars
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