Back in late 2007 I bought the Philips 841 Skype/POTS phone, and have been using it sucessfully for a couple of years. It is one of the class of phones that have connections to a land-line, and wired ethernet - plus have the ability to connect directly to Skype’s servers - and use DECT to get the signal from the base station to your handset. I find this to be a good model for use at home. All of the devices in this space seem to use a very similar user interface, making it look like they’re based on a reference design from Skype.
Unfortunatley the headset connector on my handset started acting up, so I tried a touch of contact cleaner, forgetting for a moment that this was a bad idea with the batteries still in. Needless to say I’m now getting a nasty buzzing sound when I use the headset - making it time for a replacement.
I tried to find an extra handset, but it seems Philips have discontinued the phone, and I couldn’t find one on any of the retailers I could track down.
Looking around for an alternative, there doesn’t seem to have been much innovation in this space over the last couple of years. The only one listed on the Skype store at the moment is the RTX DUALphone 3088. It has mixed reviews, with some mention of firmware upgrades causing problems, however I’m encouraged by the fact that RTX are still actively making them (last Dec08). I’ve just ordered one, and will report back when I’ve had a chance to play with it.
Update 29th May: I’ve been testing it over the last week using a normal phone line for accessing conference lines, normal phones, and mobiles in France and the US. Just today I tried out SkypeOUT to the UK, and native Skype to the UK, whilst running a mozy.com backup in the background (with QoS provided by my tomato router keeping the backup traffic out of the way). when using the phone itself or a Panasonic KX-TCA92 headset the audio quality was clear in both directions. When using the speakerphone I could hear the audio from the other end ok, but there were some feedback noises on the other end reported while I was handling the phone. If you leave the phone on the desk in speakerphone mode, these are not a problem, although I don’t think I’ll be using it much in this mode.
The software seems very close to that of the Philips - however it is obviously a later revision as the skype-audio quality is a lot better. I imagine that the dual phone guys have been keeping up with the latest updates from Skype on their protocol and codecs.
Overall I’d give it 4/5 for build quality and materials, 5/5 for functionality, and 5/5 for value for money.