After six weeks of use, I must confess being rather dissapointed by the SMC WiFi phone, which sells for a little bit more than US$ 100 and is now endorsed by Skype itself. This product was released as one of the very first WiFi phones supposedly allowing to make phone calls using a Skype account, and all that without the need for a personal computer.
The SMC phone runs a Skype OS which behaves exactly like the desktop application, with the exception of the chat feature. The application is a bit slow to load when switch on, but the color screen adds to the ease of use. Overall, the interface and the menus are well designed and it is pretty much straightforward to use.Compared to mobile telephones, my item showed a particularly short battery autonomy. Talk time hardly goes beyond 45 minutes and stand-by barely reaches 48 hours. This is solved by keeping the device plugged to a mini-USB port most of the time.
Iit is my understanding that the application doesn’t allow to create an account nor to process credit card data to purchase talk time, so a personal computer (or at most a PDA) is still required to complement this device.
Still, with the earphone plugged in and the device being kept under charge through the USB cable, the WiFi phone can be used for a long time, saving one loads of cash on international calls. For example, calling a fixed line in Belgium costs around €0,013 , a flat rate no carrier in Europe can compete with. The application automatically pick up WiFi networks and allows to enter the key for connection. In my tests, the signal dropped from time to time, but the problem was coming from the WiFi rooter.
If you are looking to purchase a WiFi phone, holding on until more sophisticated products do come on the market might be worth the wait. Otherwise, it you are desperately looking at saving on the phone bill, then this could be your solutions, albeit with the aforementioned drawbacks.
Overall, I give it a two star. There is a lot of room for improvement.