IPEVO FREE.1 vs. Knockoffs

IPEVO FREE.1 Introduction:

 

IPEVO FREE.1 is a stylish Skype USB phone. It has won IF product design award and redhot design award in 2006. It has built-in 16KHz audio sampling rate capability which complies to Skype’s high voice handling standard. Thus, IPEVO FREE.1 can generate supreme voice quality for Skype conversation. (By the way, I was wrong in the IPEVO TRIO review. I can tell the audio performance difference between the IPEVO TRIO, an 8KHz sampling rate device, and the IPEVO FREE.1, a 16KHz device.)

 

IPEVO FREE.1 has been available on the US market for quite some time now. I won’t go through another detailed evaluation because there are already several good reviews available on the Internet (For example, see the review done by Bill Campbell at Skype Journal). I’ll focus on comparing the difference between IPEVO FREE.1 and the knockoffs which have been flooded on eBay and helping users to pick the authentic IPEVO FREE.1 from the fakes.

 

Differences in the Look:

 

IPEVO FREE1 with knockoffs

Along with the IPEVO FREE.1, I put two knockoffs I found on eBay in the picture. For convenience sake, I’ll call the left one as “white knockoff”, and the right one as “black knockoff”.

 

IPEVO FREE1 black knockoffIt is easy to tell the difference between IPEVO FREE.1 and the black knockoff. The most obvious thing is that the three gray customizable function buttons seen on IPEVO FREE.1 have been taken away. An “USB phone” text label has been placed at the location. You can also see that the plastic package of the black knockoff is kind of weak. The plastic has already been pushed and damaged when it arrived in the USPS priority mail bubble envolope.

 

The white knockoff looks almost identical to IPEVO FREE.1. The good thing is that there are still several small things to look for.IPEVO FREE1 white knockoffs

  • IPEVO’s logo is not shown on the white knockoff.
  • IPEVO FREE.1 has the number keys designed as transparent and the white knockoff has them in grey.
  • The power-on led on IPEVO FREE.1 is shaped in square, but it is shaped in circuit on white knockoff.
  • The up-down navigation button is colored in green on IPEVO FREE.1, but is colored in white on white knockoff.

 

With the information above, you should be able to pick the authentic IPEVO FREE.1 from the fakes.

 

Performance Comparison:

 

  • Audio Quality

The ability to do 16KHz audio sampling rate has enabled IPEVO FREE.1 to provide a crystal clear Skype conversation. The audio quality of black and white knockoff is not anywhere closed to what IPEVO FREE.1 can offer. Using both knockoffs, I can hear background “white noise” whenever one of conversation participant (either the caller or the called part) is speaking.

 

  • ButtonsIPEVO FREE1 package includes

The buttons work flawlessly on the IPEVO FREE.1, with the included software. There are three customizable buttons which allow users to pick from the following functions: Start Chat, Redial, Hold, Ringer Style Setting, Change Status, Play a Voice Mail and Send a Voice Mail. I find it very convenient to have the flexibility. IPEVO FREE1 also provides a “+” button for users to conduct SkypeOut calls.

 

For the black knockoff, all the basic keypads, such as number keys and call/hang-off buttons, are designed on the phone and work with the driver installed. However, the number 2 button has already decided to go bad from the moment I pull it out from the box. It looks to me like either there are some quality control issues at the manufacturer or the button is damaged in the transportation because of the weak package. Besides, the default key pressed confirmation tone is designed with extremely high pitch sound. It makes my ears hurt when I first use it.

 

IPEVO FREE1 with knockoffs frontFor the white knockoff, the keypad layout and number are identical to IPEVO FREE.1. However, even with the driver installed, none of the button works. I need to do everything through my computer keyboard and use the white knock off just as an external speaker and microphone.

 

  • Accessories

IPEVO FREE.1 comes with a cradle. You can stand up the USB phone for better organization and better look. Neither of the two knockoffs come with a cradle. Besides, IPEVO FREE.1’s installation CD is in regular size. Two knockoffs’ are in mini CD size, which cannot be used in Apple Mac computers.

 

  • CertificationsIPEVO FREE1 with knockoffs back

IPEVO FREE.1 is a Skype certified device. From the label at the back of the phone, we also learn that it is CE and FCC certified. The white and the black knockoff are not Skype certified. Although both knockoffs include CE and FCC marks on the label, none of them specify the product name or the model name. There is no way for me to confirm if the marks are real or not.

 

  • Mac compatibility?

IPEVO FREE.1 is Mac compatible. On the retail box, it shows IPEVO FREE.1 can work in Mac OSX system. The two knockoffs are not Mac compatible.

 

  • Support

Users can go download the latest driver update at the IPEVO website. It is very important because we all know how frequently Skype rolls out new revision. The link included in the white knockoff’s application actually points to Skype.com. I cannot find any manufacturer or software update link in black knockoff’s program.

 

Conclusions:

 

IPEVO FREE.1 takes the lead at every aspect I tested. The only better “specification” of the knockoffs is the price. The IPEVO FREE.1 priced in $30ish while the knockoffs are in the $20ish (including the shipping charge). However, considering the functions and the quality degraded in the knockoffs, the tradeoff is not worth it.

 

If you need a more cost effective solution, there is the AU-100 (costs under $20) and P1K (costs in mid $20) to think about. They both provide better voice quality with more functions than the imitation brands. The most important thing is that these two phones are on the market for a long time now and are proven as great solutions by numerous users. You can find support / updates on these two phones easily on the manufacturer website or other retailers on Internet.

More Reviews on IPEVO products

 

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20 Responses to “IPEVO FREE.1 vs. Knockoffs”

  1. Desert Rat Says:

    It is impossible to download a free-1 driver for the Macintosh from the IPEVO website. I have an old beta driver that needs updating (phone still works) but there is zero support with IPEVO. So, before you ever think about ordering the IPVEVO phone for the mac, try to download the driver first.

  2. Desert Rat Says:

    P.S.: If any Mac user is successful in getting the free-1 driver Please contact me at tell me how you did it. Many thanks in advance.

  3. andyfordays Says:

    AMEN, Its absolutely stupid, to be honest the FREE.1 is not actually mac compatible since i have neither drivers.

  4. Mark Says:

    A very quick google reveals the download area for an Ipevo Free-1 driver for both Mac and PC, worth looking a ‘little’ longer:
    http://www.ipevo.com/sources/

  5. A Greene Says:

    The driver is there as a clicakble link but it does not download as a dmg files- you just get a window full of screen junk. VERY ANNOYING.

  6. L. Shepard Says:

    Greetings,
    At Ipevo we value feedback from users and bloggers to better familiarize us with the actual user experience. We recognize that some issues have arisen regarding MAC compatibility and we would like to assure you that these issues have been addressed. We strive to bring to market the best possible product and we seek out criticism to direct our improvement strategy! We hope that all users who encounter an issue with Ipevo products will not hesitate to contact us directly! Thanks, The Ipevo Team http://www.ipevo.com/

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