The DECT 6.0-compliant RTX 3088 Dualphone allows North American consumers to continue to use their legacy PSTN phone service while seamlessly incorporating Skype into their routine “home phone” activities. And it’s one reason why you will see those Skype Mood Messages that say “Using Skype without my computer”.
Last fall In Store Solutions released a North American version1 of the popular RTX Dualphone 3088, available on the U.S. Skype Shop. Its uniqueness results from its ability to work concurrently with both a PSTN line and a Skype account. Since then a few U.S.-based bloggers have taken the North American version of the Dualphone for a road test and provided some reviews.
First, a couple of general comments:
The DualPhone allows you to use Skype without a computer. This opens up new use cases that may require you to think about how you want to configure its use. In particular you may want to consider using a different Skype account from your primary Skype account for two reasons:
- If it’s to be a “home” phone, you probably do not want to have your “business” Skype calls going to every phone handset in the house
- It’s limited to handling 200 contacts on a buddylist. As pointed out by Stuart Henshall, if you have over 200 contacts in your primary Skype account, you want to think about whom you want to have in the Skype Contact list associated with use of the Dualphone. In my home phone deployment case, we use a separate account which only has about 25 contacts whom we call frequently. (Apparently the average number of Contacts per Skype Account is somewhat below 25.)
The Dualphone is limited to voice calling (over either Skype or the PSTN) and Skype presence information; it supports both a Skype Online number and SkypeOut services. However, as Stuart points out, there are situations where this suffices:
Who’s the DualPhone for?
I think you purchase it when….
- You want your wife/home to have an always on Skype connection when you travel a lot and they never became really Skype savvy. That also covers the use case where there isn’t an always-on Skype enabled PC.
- Small business perhaps? May make sense to dedicate another account to this phone and call forward your own Skype account (s) to it. This “shared” option could be useful but there’s no way to transfer from the phone to someone else. So don’t expect to make it a PBX.
- You want your parents to be on Skype but they are barely computer literate and again won’t have it on all the time. It’s a good way to keep them connected globally. The device is familiar and the technology disappears.
- You just love Skype to death, and cannot do without a traditional handset for yacking. This may be the best motivation for many, although the motivation to buy this handset is also tied into saving money and cheap calls. We’ll come to cost and investment later.
- You want to make Skype your landline equivalent (no 911) and get an account with SkypeOut and SkypeIn. Now your telephony is based on Skype costs and not the old style costs of the PSTN. The phone would payout in six months for most people. Unfortunately, landline numbers don’t seem to be portable or transferable. A variation on this. You could use Ribbit for your SkypeIn number and get addtional benefits and functionality while also staying in touch with your Skype buddies.
Jason Harris in his TechCraver review, mentions:
From a usability point of view, the Dualphone is pretty easy. Techies will handle it just fine and I think most non-technical people can use it without issue as well. Screen options allow you to add Skype contacts, adjust your online status and other routine Skype functions.
As for the static-y background sound quality issue raised by Jason, PhoneBoy says:
At home, I have this set up both with my landline and my personal Skype account. Calls to my landline and calls to my Skype account are set up with different rings (yes, you can do that). I have used it both for Skype and for PSTN calls and the sound quality is excellent. The connection between the base and the handset is DECT, making it both secure and WiFi friendly.
And Dameon (PhoneBoy) goes on to conclude:
If you’re looking for a way to make calls on Skype without using a computer and tie into your normal landline, this is a great device. It does exactly what it says on the tin. The pricing, though, presents a challenge: $170 for the base unit and handset, another $100 each extra handset. At half the price, it would almost be a no-brainer.
My own personal experience, using the Philips VoIP841 dualphone (same firmware as RTX model but no longer available), is (i) no issue with sound quality, (ii) the speakerphone is really handy for “family-participation” calls, (iii) having four handsets that are wirelessly connected removed the need to fix some phone line wiring when hit by a lightning strike last year – one RJ-11 jack for connection to the base station suffices and (iv) it’s “just worked” since I installed it almost two years ago.
Bottom line: When I see Skype mood messages that say “Using Skype without a PC”, it usually means they are using a dual phone; the RTX 3088 solves this issue. It’s probably targeted best at the home phone or home office market. The use cases, as quoted above, are definitely different from using Skype on your PC (or a mobile phone, for that matter).
And for the future: an ideal future Skype dual phone would incorporate the SILK codec (for crisp audio on Skype-to-Skype calls), a WiFi network connection, limited text messaging and a mute button. Is there a hardware vendor up to the challenge?
Note 1: What is meant by “North American” version? An appropriate power plug as well as support for the North American standard for a DECT 6.0 rf band.
Note 2: The RTX 3088 base station includes support for up to four DECT-connected cordless handsets; additional handsets are now also available at the U.S. Skype Shop.
Full disclosure: In Store Solutions has become a client of Denali InterConneXions, publisher of Voice On The Web, building on the author’s previous business development experience with establishing partnerships that can assist with the promotion of a primary vendor’s offerings. A more complete statement will follow shortly.
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