Time to Move Beyond Skype WiFi Phones? – a Letter to Jim Courtney @ SkypeJournal

Dear Jim Courtney,

My name is Howard Chang, and I have always enjoyed reading your posts on the Skype Journal, especially the product reviews. Your articles have inspired me to start my own Skype accessory review blog at https://amperordirect.wordpress.com.

For full disclosure, I work for AmperorDirect.com – an online retailer of Skype related products and accessories. Further, we are in the process of determining our level of commitment to Skype WiFi products.

This letter is a reply to your conclusions made in yesterday’s “Fall VON 2006 Special – Time to Move Beyond Skype WiFi Phones” article. Specifically, I would disagree with the statement, “I have to recommend that Skype drop the concept of a dedicated Skype WiFi phone and focus their efforts on getting Skype incorporated into those other wireless platforms.

As an engineer and long-time Skype user, I can understand how you would come to such a conclusion. I, myself, would hope to have a non-PC, WiFi device that allows me to make Skype calls almost anywhere — such as at home, work, or on the road. Based on our testing, I was a little disappointed to see that this generation of Skype WiFi phones has limited WiFi hotspot use because of their lack of support for web-based authentication. In addition, increasing the battery life and a ring tone volume would be two of my preferences as well.

However, even with my engineering concerns, as an end user I cannot wait to own this Skype WiFi phone! Why? My parents live overseas. We have talked over Skype many times before and have enjoyed the high voice quality Skype offers us. Once upon a time my parents had a hungry and demanding kid (me!) running around. In order for them to provide for me and my education, my parents learned to save whatever they could. Even after I left their house they still look for ways to keep expenses down and they consider an always-on computer as being a big waste of electricity and money. Therefore, I’m lucky if I can catch them on-line so I can call them through Skype.

My parents are semi-experienced when it comes to computers, and with some minor additional help, they can set up and keep a broadband/wireless network working in their home. Just imagine how easy it would be if I could call them – with zero cost to either of us – if we both have a Skype WiFi phone installed. It’s like the MasterCard commercial: Broadband connection – $30 dollars, Skype WiFi phone – $180, Calling your parents anytime you want (and forever) for free – Priceless.

In my opinion, there are lots of people like me out there who have parents, relatives, business and personal partners, or friends living a long distance away and want to stay in touch. A PC-less WiFi Skype phone will help people communicate without the need of a computer – which, again in my opinion, offers tremendous value. To us, Skype WiFi phones are more than just an engineering prototype or toy, but currently the only Skype Certified device on the market that can provide Skype communication without the need of a computer.

I can still remember the words of my college Engineering professor: “An engineer is not a scientist. An engineer’s job is to turn the available technology on the market into some applications, with a reasonable cost, to benefit people’s everyday life.” In following this thought, Accton (SMC / Belkin / Netgear / Edgecore) has done a good job in converting the available chipsets from TI and Broadcom into the first Skype-based PC-less phone. This product solves the problem of always needing a computer on to send/receive Skype calls. Instead of dismissing their accomplishments and technology ‘break-through’, I think that they deserve encouragement for doing so well in launching this almost bug-free first generation product.

I hope that Skype and the third-party hardware manufacturers can continue developing the Skype PC-less phone. For the next generation of Skype PC-less stand-alone phones, I would put forth the following wish list:

  • It can be a dedicated Skype WiFi solution. If it is, I would like to see a built-in web browser that can allow for completing the web authentication process in most WiFi hotspots.
  • It can use the DECT or 2.4GHz cordless solution. But, it would be better to be a dual-mode phone to cover both land-line and Skype calls.
  • Have a good desktop cradle that can recharge the phone and have a built-in speaker. The speaker could play the ring-tone when there is an in-coming call, and it could have an adjustable volume.
  • Longer battery life.

Jim, thanks again for your efforts in the Skype industry. You work is appreciated, however, in my opinion, your Skype WiFi phone conclusion will prove to be incorrect.



Howard Chang @ AmperorDirect.com


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5 Responses to “Time to Move Beyond Skype WiFi Phones? – a Letter to Jim Courtney @ SkypeJournal”

  1. Cordless Phone Reviews Says:


    Interesting topic… I’m working in this industry myself and I don’t agree about this in 100%, but I added your page to my bookmarks and hope to see more interesting articles in the future

  2. amperordirect Says:


    Sorry for not making your coment online immediately. WordPress has a spam protector called Akismet. I don’t know why it marked your comment as a spam. And, I’m 100% sure that I didn’t block the phrase: “I don’t agree”.

    Anyway, thanks for the kind words. I will try my best to express my opinions about products.

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