I’ve just installed a great little Skype assisted device. It is a small box that connects between my phone line, DECT (cordless) base-station, and PC. It also comes with a small driver that provides a link into the Skype application. It is basically a hardware USB sound card, with the extra hardware required to connect to a phone, and a phone line.
I can now pick up any DECT handset in my house, dial *, then dial a short code (e.g. 12), then #, and have it make a call through Skype to one of my contacts. I can also use it to call SkypeOut (*0044……#), or just ignore it and call using the PSTN (just dial normally).
When I get an incoming call from Skype, or from my POTS line (the Plain Old Telephone System), my phone rings and I can pick it up as I would a normal phone call. The quality isn’t as good as it is for Skype-Skype through a quality headset, probably because it is being limited by the DECT bandwidth.
The only downside to it is that it requires that you run a PC with the Skype software. This is due to the fact that Skype haven’t licensed their software to a hardware vendor as yet. I expect this will change in the coming months, but for now, this is the best Skype/POTS integration solution available.
There are other solutions available for this problem, but in my opinion, the RapidBox-R is probably the best one at the moment.
The chaps from MPlat have just sent me a message pointing out that their product has been out for longer, and is cheaper. From what I can tell, the MPlat box appears functionally identical to the RapidBox-R, even down to the software driver. The web-site seems a touch less professional than that of the RapidBox-R.
Note that only the RapidBox, SkypeBox and DualPhone have connections to the POTS and will allow you to have a single telephone for land-line and VoIP calls. Other solutions will require that you dedicate a phone to your VoIP line (but are generally cheaper).
- RapidBox-R My favourite with USB, POTS, Phone (US $71.55 to the UK = £37.11)
- MPlat SkypeBox appears identical to RapidBox with USB, POTS, Phone (Euro 50.50 to the UK = £35.17)
- CUPhone RJ11 to USB Phone Adaptor (no POTS)
- Phone Connector USB to RJ-11 VoIP Phone Connector (no POTS)
- Voipiliser Phone Connector UK supplier for Phone Connector
- IPMate S90 RJ11 to USB Phone Adaptor (no POTS)
- PC PhoneLine VTA1000 Skype Gateway (no POTS)
- Chat Cord uses your existing soundcard, rather than providing a USB sound card (no POTS)
- Dual Phone is a cordless phone with a basestation that connects to your PC on USB, and also has a POTS connection.
- Siemens Gigaset M34 connects to a Siemens phone (but uses a modified version of Skype)