Linksys CIT400 Skype Phone

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/ Updated: 21 October 2010, 11:36 pm AEDT

VoIP still hasn't had the mass consumer acceptance vendors have been wishing for. Whether it's down to high speed broadband penetration, the lack of "naked" DSL (where a user no longer has to pay for landline rental), the dependence of Internet telephony on the Internet itself or simply the unattractive name that sounds like one of Marvin the Martian's laser guns, the fact is most people are either still using a landline or have switched entirely to mobile phones. Linksys, like others, plans to bridge the gap between Internet and traditional telephony by doing the most obvious thing -- releasing devices that can handle both.

Upside
The CIT400 is certainly an attractive bit of kit, and should look the part in any home. The base station is not overly large, and the unit as a whole actually allows you to make Skype calls without being hooked up to a PC, courtesy of the software being embedded -- a huge plus. The software can be updated too, so you won't be left behind when your PC-locked brethren install the latest version.

The handset itself is well featured, with a 2.5mm jack for an external headset if you have one, and a speaker on the back for, oddly enough, speakerphone. Up to four additional handsets can be added to the base unit, they can be paged if you've misplaced them, and optimally should work indoors up to 50m from the base station.

While most things are configurable from the handset's colour screen, the base station has a full HTML menu that can be accessed through your PC, for those who prefer to set things up with a mouse.

The double NiMH AAA batteries stored in the handset supposedly manage 120 hours of standby time and 10 hours of talk time, but time will tell if this, pardon the pun, rings true.

Finally, it of course allows you to call from your standard phone line as well, just in case you have an Internet/power outage and need to place an emergency call, making sure all your bases are covered.

Downside
The lack of "naked" DSL in Australia means that even if you wanted to go 100 percent VoIP, you'd still be paying landline phone rental, unless you're in one of the few areas that supports cable. Even then, going purely VoIP is a risk due to the fact that if your Internet or electricity goes out, you lose your phone as well. This isn't so much a downside for the CIT400 due to it being able to connect to PTSN, but nonetheless is a large hurdle in the effort to move consumers to IP telephony. We suspect the ever expansive march of the mobile phone will eventually save us from this quandary.

Honestly about the only negative point we can find about this phone is the fact that it's locked to Skype, not allowing you to sign up with any other VoIP providers -- however considering Skype's coverage and recent "Skype Pro" announcement in Australia (AU$3.20 per month gets you zero cents per minute calls to landlines, international calls from your mobile/landline at local rates, and voicemail), this is not necessarily a bad thing.

Outlook
Barring some minor disaster, the CIT400 looks to be a winner for those looking to reduce their phone bills and increase their communication. And best of all, you don't need to wait for your PC to turn on just to make a call.

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Where to Buy

Linksys CIT400 Skype phone

Part Number: CNETLinksys CIT400 Skype phone

Typical Price: $239.95

See manufacturer website for availability.