Netgear SPH101 Wi-Fi Skype Phone review: Netgear SPH101 Wi-Fi Skype Phone

CNET Editors' Rating

4.5 stars Outstanding
Pricing Unavailable
Reviewed:
Updated:

The Good Easy Wi-Fi set-up. No need for a connected PC. Good audio quality.

The Bad Much more expensive than a set of headphones. Bland visual design. Battery life could be better.

The Bottom Line If you're hopeless Skypeaholic with a home Wi-fi router, the SPH101 is your dream product. If you're a budget minded VoIP fanatic, maybe not.

Don't Miss

Design
Netgear's SPH101 Wi-Fi Skype Phone looks just like ... well, it looks just like a phone, to be honest. Rather similar to many of Sony Ericsson's cheaper phone lines -- if you took the W200i and dunked it in a tin of iPod paint, you'd end up with something not dissimilar to the SPH101, in fact. It's a rather plain and (subjectively speaking) ugly design, but there's no mistaking that this is a phone, and not in fact some kind of tool for removing stones from horses' hooves, for instance.

Features
So it's a phone - we've got that far. Specifically, the SPH101 is a Skype phone . They're not particularly rare, given Skype's dominance of the VoIP market internationally. What makes the SPH101 stand out is that it's a Wi-Fi connected Skype phone that requires no PC connection whatsoever for making and taking Skype calls.

Set-up of the SPH101 is very simple indeed. Once it's charged, via the supplied USB AC charger, or a mini-USB cable if you've got one handy, it's a simple matter of powering the phone up. It'll seek out nearby Wi-Fi networks, and automatically try to connect to any unsecured networks unless you tell it not to. It's got inbuilt support for WEP and WPA authentication, although any network that requires a Web login - as you'll find for a lot of public area wireless pay networks -- is beyond the SPH101's abilities. Once you've got an IP address, you just enter your Skype username and password, and it'll keep you logged in for as long as its batteries last. It supports SkypeOut calling, although you'll have to do your financial management from a PC - there's no way to add credit directly from the SPH101.

Performance
Netgear rates the SPH101 as having up to 20 hours standby time and two hours talk time. In real mobile terms that's quite low, but then we can't see too many users taking the SPH101 with them everywhere the way you would with a regular mobile -- well, not unless you know of a lot of unsecured wireless networks and have a terminal addiction to chatting on Skype.

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Where to Buy

Netgear SPH101 Wi-Fi Skype Phone

Part Number: CNETNetgear SPH101 Wi-Fi Skype Phone

Typical Price: $369.00

See manufacturer website for availability.