Archive for December, 2006

RTX Skype PC-Less Dualphone 3088 – Review Part I

December 20, 2006

(Scroll down to the bottom to see the Youtube video review clip)

RTX Dualphone 3088

Last week, we received our next generation embedded PC-less Skype dualphone sample. It is from one of the established Skype phone providers, RTX. The ‘generic’ non-OEM model name is Dualphone 3088. As advertised, Dualphone 3088 can make both landline and Skype calls, in one unit, without any interaction with your PC. I’m going to give it a try this week, and will probably publish the rest of my review before Christmas. So, be sure to bookmark this page and comeback to check on us later.

In Dualphone 3088 retailer box

Let’s first go over the items come with-in the retailer package.

Base Station: The base station of Dualphone 3088 is a flat squared box. It is actually a strip-down PC and has the capability to handle the Skype related tasks, such as creating new Skype accounts, conducting Skype calls, and displaying Skype contacts. At the back of the base station, you can see the interface ports. There is a RJ11 port for the telephone line, and a RJ45 port for the Ethernet cable. The Dualphone 3088 system connects to the rest of the world through these ports.

Recharging Cradle: A Dualphone 3088 handset recharging cradle is provided. With the cradle separated from the base station, it is easy to put the handset at where you use it most (such as living room), and keep the base station at the place you have a corded Internet connection available (such as your study room).

Handset: Comparing with its predecessor, Dualphone 3088 handset is upgraded with a crystal clear, wide viewing angle, colored LCD display. The design of the human interface buttons, such as the navigation and the number pads, is very similar to a standard cordless phone. There should be no problem for average users to learn to use the handset. Besides, the handset used DECT technology to communicate with the base station. It can reduce the chance for the phone to interface with your WiFi network.

Accessories: The Dualphone 3088 includes a great number of quality accessories. There is a network cable, a telephone cable, a belt-clip for the handset, and a power AC adapter for the base station. (Just one quick note to RTX: why not use the same wallwart for the base station and the recharging unit? It might simplify the production process.)

User Manual: Don’t get overwhelmed by the 401 pages Dualphone 3088 manual. It covers 12 languages in one book. Therefore, you only need to go over around 30 pages in your own language. Although I know it’s a good habit to read the instruction before powering up the device, Dualphone 3088 is so easy to use that you might even not need to read that 30+ pages.

Rechargeable batteries: As Stephen Pinches states in his SkypeGear blog, using standardized AAA batteries is a good idea. This means easy and cheap replacement if you need to change the battery.

Super Easy Installation Process

The other test results, such as the sound quality and the comparison between a Skype WiFi phone and Dualphone 3088, will be published soon. Before I wrap up today’s review, I want to show you the amazingly easy installation process of Dualphone 3088. For the first time usage, after hooking up both telephone and Ethernet connections, you need to enter your personal settings, including language, country and area code selections, and create or sign in for a Skype account. The base station will grab your contacts setting and you are ready to rock on! See the pre-recorded video clip for the demonstration.

Not in US Yet

AmperorDirect is in the process of bringing this fantastic Skype gadget to the US market. According to our source in RTX, they are not going to ship this phone to the US market with their own brand name. A big name consumer electronics company will OEM the phone from RTX and release to the US market. We will update our progress here and also on our website frequently. Keep in touch.

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The Official SMC Skype WiFi Phone Cradle – Sample Test Report

December 11, 2006

The Official SMC Skype WiFi Phone Cradle

Right after Jon and I finished the DIY SMC Skype WiFi phone cradle, the official cradle sample from SMC showed up at our front door. The cradle we received is the one without the access point built-in. Therefore, I’ll focus on the ID design and the mechanism for the cradle to charge the phone. The ability to connect the SMC Skype WiFi phone to the Internet through the access point built-in cradle will be covered when we receive the other sample.

The Look

The look of the Skype WiFi phone cradle is very elegant. The white color on the front of the cradle perfectly matches the color of the phone. The SMC earned the 2006 International Forum Design (IF) award for product design in Consumer Electronics / Telecommunications category. IF states, “…the product sticks out as a refreshingly clear, simple-looking, Zen-oriented device – in stark contrast to the mass of “over-styled” cell phones currently on the market.”

Lets just say that I would not hesitate to keep it on my desk – and I plan to!

Elevated Panel

Additionally, it is very thoughtful for the Accton engineers to elevate the bottom panel. With the elevated design feature, the SMC Skype WiFi phone sits as high as my laptop screen. Now, I can just roll my eyeball horizontally to check out where the Skype call is coming from. Good work, Accton!

Charge the phone

The Skype WiFi phone cradle sample we received does not have an AC power adapter built-in. At the back of the cradle, there is a mini USB connector where you can plug in your AC adapter, or your USB charging cable. On the phone panel, there are two metal clips. When you put your Skype WiFi phone on the cradle, the two metal clips will contact the two metal charging connectors at the bottom of the phone and start to do the recharge task. There are also two docking pins on the panel. When the Skype WiFi phone is on the cradle, the docking pins can be stick into the docking holes at the bottom of the phone. It will provide extra stability

Mini USB port at the back of the cradle:

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Ports and connectors on the cradle & the phone:

 

Conclusion

The Skype WiFi phone cradle is a good investment if you already have a Skype WiFi phone. It looks nice, and can serve the purposes of recharging the phone and organizing the desktop very well. I don’t have the chance to test the cradle with Netgear, Belkin, and Edgecore branded Skype WiFi phones. But, they all use the same blue prints as the SMC phone. The chance to have other branded phones work with this cradle is high. We are going to publish the test result of connecting the SMC Skype WiFi phone to the Internet through the access point built-in cradle later, when we receive the other cradle sample. Bookmark this page and come back to check on us later.

Click Here to see the Skype WiFi phone review

Click Here to see the DIY Skype WiFi phone cradle

 

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DIY SMC Skype WiFi Phone Cradle

December 8, 2006

One of the items on our SMC Skype WiFi phone wish list is the desktop cradle.

In the original retail box, SMC is considerate enough to include an AC adapter that I can use at home and a USB charging cable to get the juice from the laptop when I am on the road. Finding something to recharge the SMC Skype WiFi phone is never an issue. However, my desk at home and work has been taken over by those wonderful (or darn?) Skype accessories waiting for test and review. I really need some help to organize it. Besides, having the phone I actually use in daily-basis “stand up” on my desk is always a plus. With the phone in the cradle, I can easily figure out where the call is coming from.

While waiting for the recently announced cradle from SMC, Jon, our in-house senior technician, helps me to design and build up a Do It Yourself (DIY) cradle. Please see the picture. It serves the purpose very well. Jon has even constructed a JIG for all the bending work. Now, he can make one DIY SMC WiFi phone cradle from scratch in 15 minutes. The DIY cradle is very artsy!

I’m going to list all the materials and the steps needed for this DIY SMC Skype WiFi phone cradle in the second half of this post. You can do one for yourself. It should be able to work for all four different brand Skype WiFi phone: Netgear, Belkin, SMC, and Edgecore. If you need one, please send a request to me. At this point, there are four different colors for you to choose from: metal, black, yellow, and blue.

By the way, we are taking our DYI cradle directly to Skype for Skype Certification. Hope the certification process is quick and easy! 😉

Commercial Plug Time

Besides the boring technician job, Jon plays guitar in a Rock & Roll band: Dustin Hayze. You can occasionally see them playing in Houston’s live music restaurant. They now have two EPs published. Please check out their MySpace page: http://myspace.com/dustinhayze. Jon is the one with the bunny outfit.

 

 

Tools, Materials, and Construction Steps

Tools list:

3” Clamp-on Vise Wilton form Home Depot, $21.00

8” Slip-Joint Pliers Craftsman from Sears, $8.00

8” Wire Cutters from Sears, $9.99

Misc: Card Board, Cloth Towel, Sharpie Marker, Measuring Tape, and Hammer

JIG pictures:

 

Materials list:

9 ga. Galvanized Wire 50’ coil from ACE hardware, $5.99

1 qt. Denatured alcohol from ACE hardware, $5.99

Black Plasti-Dip Spray coating from DX engineering, $6.99

 

Construction procedures (See the detailed dimension in the blue prints at the end of this post):

1. Cut a 24” 9 ga. Galvanized wire

2. Mark the 11” position on the 24” wire. Use the mark as the center point to bend the wire by the (3/4”, 3/4”, 1”) triangular JIG. (Bend #1) You will have a long side and a short side.

 

3. On the Clamp-on Vise, use hammer to build the 90 degree bend. (Bend #2)

 

4. Use the back-supporting triangular JIG (1.5”, 1.5”, 1”) to bend the long side. (Bend #3)

 

5. Mark the bending position on the long side in step 2, using the bottom JIG. Bend the wire on the Clamp-on Vise. (Bend #5)

 

6. Repeat step 5 for Bend #6, #7, and #8.

 

7. Mark the bending position on the short side in step 2, using the top JIG. Bend the wire on the Clamp-on Vise. (Bend #4)

 

8. Repeat step 7 for Bend #9, #10, #11, and #12.

 

9. Use the Denatured alcohol to wash off the oil on the cradle.

 

10. Put the Plasti-Dip Spray coating on the cradle.

 

11. Let it dry. After that, you will have your DIY Skype WiFi phone cradle ready to use!

With a littile modification, you can make the cradle for other phones (Cell phones, Keyspan cordless phone VP-24A, other USB phones without cradles…).

Keyspan USB cordless phone VP-24A with the DIY cradle

Click Here to see the SMC Skype WiFi phone review

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How far a Man will go to Promote the Skype Gadget – Verball Review

December 8, 2006

OK. Amperor, I know this review is long. But, please bear with me and watch it to the last part. I have done enough to embarass myself. So, where is my raise?

BTW, the software, Robo Skyper, I mentioned in the clip, can be found at:

http://webtown.typepad.com/webtown/2006/10/robo_voice_for_.html

Jan has a pretty detailed explaination about how to install this software on your computer.

 

Here is the review clip:

 

 

Hello everybody

This is Howard Chang from AmperorDirect.com. Today, I want to provide my review on this cool Skype gadget, the Verball. If you follow the news in the Skype community, you must have heared the good words about this cute little gadget, at Skype Journal or Yahoo Tech. After the log wait, is now finally available here in US for the 2006 holiday season.

Basic Functions

Before getting into the application of the Verball, let me first show you the basic functions of it. The Verball is an external speaker and microphone combo unit. It uses USB interface to communicate with PC. There is also a 3.5mm audio jack on the back of the Verball. Just in case you don’t want to broadcast your private conversation into the air, you can plug your headsets into the audio jack, enjoy your privacy, and still have fun with the Verball.

ID Design

After going through the basic functions of the verball, let’s look at its ID design. In my opinion, the thing makes the Verball stand out from the already over-crowed PC speaker market is its cute outfit. There are five different cute Verballs you can choose from. This one is called Mr. V. This is the baby. You can go to verballs.com to see the other three, which are the slick Boss, Britney, and Striker. There are stories behind each Verball. So, don’t forget to check them out while you are at Verballs.com.

 

 

Three different movements

Other than the cute, unique outfits, there are three build-in actions in Verballs: hand-waving, ear-flashing, and mouth-flopping. The first two motions can be activated if there is an incoming call, which I’m going to show you later. You can see the mouth flops if the volume of the voice (or music) coming out from the Verball exceeds a certain level.

Skype Incoming Calls

Now that you have a pretty good understanding about what a Verball is and what it can do, I want to put it in actual use so that you can have some feeling if it is the gift you want to put under the Christmas tree. First, let me Skype my laptop through the SMC PC-less WiFi phone. You can hear that, as an external speaker, the Verball plays fairly good sound. You should also be able see the hands waving and the ears flashing. It’s cute, isn’t it?

Internet Chat Companion

Second, let me show you why a Verball can be a very good companion when doing Internet chat. Most people’s average Internet chat experience is typing and waiting for a response from the screen. If the imagination hat is not on, it can be a very mono visual experience. However, I have a Skype third-party application, called Robo Skyper. It can translate any received Skype chat message into voice, and announce it through the speaker, which, in my case, is the Verball. Let me show you how it works. So now, I can have a cute little guy interact with me, and talk to me. It is kind of weird because the Verball will always use its ridiculous big, but innocent eyes staring at me. and using its innocent big eyes to stair at me during the chat. But, it is fun.

For Your Loved Ones

Seriously, if your loves ones (significant other, spouse, or kids) are not in the same area and you rely on the Internet chat to keep in touch with them, I strongly recommend you to get a Verball for them. The baby verball can be the best choice because its fury outfit can provide an extra warm feeling.

Sing a Song to Your Loved Ones

Speaking about the far-away loved ones, here is another thing you can do to them with the Verball. You can sing a song to them when they are down. It can be a comforting song, a ove song, or even a lullaby. Before I give you an example on how adorable a singing Verball can be, I want to show you an important trick. Because Verball uses the sound volume to determine if it needs to flop the mouth, you need to fine-tune the speaker volume level to get a right mouth movement. If the speaker volume is set too high, you can expect to see the mouth stays in the open position during the whole sentence. On the other hand, if it is too low, the mouth won’t move. Furthermore, using Skype 3.0 version can make the fine-tuning job easier. Skype 3.0 allows users to change the volume level during the chat, on the Skype screen.

In conclusion, the Verball is a great holiday gift, if you have loved ones being far away from you.

Have Fun

OK, my review will be ended by having my Verball singing Aero Smith’s “I don’t wanna miss a thing”. It’s a pre-recorded clip. Remember, the voice is from an anonymous singer. It is not from me…

Click Here to See More Video Review

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