IPEVO Skype Wifi Phone SO-20 Review

Here is my review for the latest and the greatest Skype WiFi phone: IPEVO SO-20.

Here is the script.

Hello. This is Howard Chang from AmperorDirect. Today, I want to present the latest Skype Wifi phone from IPEVO.

Some Good Words about IPEVO

Before I start reviewing the phone, let me say something good about IPEVO. While big name players, such as GE and Philips, are retreating from the Skype accessory market, IPEVO is the only one I know who still actively rolls out new products to fill the void. They should be recognized by their good will and the effort to serve the industry. Now, if they can come up with a new Dect PC-Less Cordless phone or a PC-Less USB-to-RJ11 Skype phone adapter, it would be even better.

Yes, the Package Comes with the Charging Cradle

OK, let’s look at the phone. This is the retail package. At the first glimpse, I was confused by the picture on the cover. Shouldn’t the phone come with a charging cradle as IPEVO advertised? Yes, it surely does. On the back of the package, it mentions “charge cradle included”. If I were the package designer, I would put the charging cradle picture on the cover, too, because it is a very good selling point. But, I can fully understand they want to focus on presenting the phone.

What’s Included in the Box

In the box, we have the manual, the phone, the battery, the charging cradle and the AC adapter. Compared to the accessory list of our previous favorite: SMC wifi phone, it has an extra charging cradle included, but doesn’t come with the headset. If the IPEVO SO-20 has the similar functions, features and performance, a price point in the $140 range is reasonable. Let me assemble the phone and you can take a better look at the phone.

Good Design

OK, here it is: the IPEVO Skype wifi phone sitting on the charging cradle. I like the look of the design. It is a little smaller than its competitor, but carries the same size colored 1.8” LCD display. I can hold it comfortably in my hand – not too big, not too small. The key pads are designed with the curved edge to provide an elegant look. When you click on the buttons, the feedback force level is just right. The volume controls are at the side of the phone. And, the 2.5mm headset jack is on the other side. The only thing which can be improved are the four navigation buttons. They are a little bit too small. It is easy for me to hit the other buttons while doing the left or right navigation. I like the joystick design in the SMC phone better. However, I also understand that if the button design is done right, the design is simpler and might provide longer life.

General Functions of a Skype Wifi Phone

Let me run through the basic functions of the Skype wifi phone just in case this is the first time you have looked at one. The phone has a Skype program built-in, and can let you conduct Skype calls without using a PC. What you need to do is to make the phone connect to your wifi network, sign in your Skype account and you can walk around in the wifi range and talk. The phone supports WEP and WAP security settings. However, it does not have a browser built-in, to handle the web-base log-in process. Therefore, it is more suitable to use in your home, your office or at a public place which provides open wifi network. You cannot use the phone in a paid hot-spot or some hotels which force users to use web-base sign-in process.

Let me put the phone back in the cradle to charge the battery. I’ll come back to finish the review when the charging process is completed.

Sound Quality Depends on the Network Connection Quality

Ok, the charge is done. It is recommended in the user manual to perform a 3 to 5 hrs full battery charge before the first time using the phone. When you turn on the phone, you need to connect the phone to the wifi network and sign in your Skype account. I’ve already done those boring steps to save us some time. Just be aware if you have more than 500 contacts in your contact list, the phone will take a very long time to finish the contact downloading process. The sound quality is acceptable. It can at least match the cell phone conversation quality. Like all the Skype wifi phones on the market, the conversation quality is largely dependent on the quality of your wifi network, and the connection between your wifi router to your calling destination. I have experienced crystal clear sound quality when using this phone to call our China factory. They just love the call quality and want me to keep using this phone to do our daily conversations. I have also experienced so-so call quality when contacting people in US. My suggestion is when you encounter a bad call, just hang-up and repeat the call. Skype might route you through a better connection and solve your problem. Or, you can check out the following webpage and ask the call receiver to perform a technical check on the connection quality. You might find some good data reflecting your call quality there.

Battery Life?

One thing which I need to perform further investigation is on the battery life. When comparing the spec, the IPEVO wifi phone carries a 3.7V 900mAh Li-ion battery, while the SMC wifi phone carries a 3.7V 1200mAh Li-ion battery. Supposedly, the IPEVO SO-20 should have a shorter talk and stand-by period. However, on paper, it offers a similar usage time. Maybe its miniature design has helped to save some power consumption. Maybe, two companies have their tests done in different test conditions. I’ll need to perform my own test to find out the results. I will also post the results on my blog later. No matter what the result is, I think IPEVO is taking the right step by including a charging cradle in the box. With this cradle sitting on a desk, people can better organize the cables and are more likely to put the phone back for charging. In the end, you might not notice the difference of the battery life because it is always in full charge mode.

Conclusions

OK. Here is the conclusion for today’s review.

  1. IPEVO has done a good job in designing the SO-20 Skype Wifi phone. I like its elegant look.
  2. Sound quality can be very good when the network connection quality is good.
  3. IPEVO Skype Wifi phone comes with a lower capacity battery. But with the charging cradle included, you might not notice the difference in talk and stand-by time.

Thanks for watching my review on the IPEVO SO-20 Skype wifi phone. Please send in your questions or feedbacks.
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18 Responses to “IPEVO Skype Wifi Phone SO-20 Review”

  1. taj Says:

    how do i access voicemail from the phone?

  2. Frank Says:

    Thank you for your information, my question is …I would like to use this phone at home, I have a secure wifi and a password is required for the first time…can I enter a password??
    Thank you and best regards, FS

  3. Wil Says:

    Hi there, great review.

    One thing though which isn’t quite clear. (The above question) can the phone use a secure wifi network – which requires a password to login to join the network … This isn’t the browser based login you mention in the review.

    Many thanks
    Wil

  4. Frank Says:

    Does not have speaker phone. Would be great, since some alerts are coming trough the loudspeaker on the back, but no option to switch to speaker phone mode.

    Regards, Frank

  5. Frank Says:

    Good question about the Voice mail, I would like to know too.

  6. CJ Says:

    Cool, review. Two more phones you might want to look into are the Netgear WiFi Phone and the Belkin Wifi Phone. Check out these reviews.

    Netgear WiFi Phone Review
    Belkin WiFi Phone Review

    They’re both cool phones that I honesty thought were pretty sweet.

  7. Vince Says:

    ^They’re ancient phones…and I would not recommend the Belkin in all honesty.

  8. Tim Says:

    I spent about 2 hours today looking at different reviews to figure out which skype phone to get. This was by far the most informative, concise, and clear resource I found. Thank you, Howard.

  9. Paul Kirshner Says:

    Wow, great blog. I love reading blogs about Voice over IP! It’s such an exciting technology. I have learned a lot in implementing a small VoIP network at home, and am thinking of starting VoIP business in my area. There are a number of small businesses in my region that would benefit from it greatly. Thanks again for this blog – it is really well-done.

  10. kyle Hourihan Says:

    I just bought one of these phones. When the signal is good, its better than Fring.. no delay. Its a B/G 802.11 phone so the range is only about 30 feet, further causes the end of words to get dropped off… and patchy reception of the other end’s words. No speaker phone, which sux, but the rest of the experience is, so far (after 12 hours) so good. the contacts show pictures of your pals, if you bothered to put them in Skype. If you imported from Outlook, no such luck, as it Outlook/ win 7 contact imports don’t grab the pictures.

    the phone gets a little hot, I can’t help but worry that all that R/F might be cooking the brain, far more output then bluetooth… but maybe its just cause I have hot ears. the battery is lower down below the ear speaker, so not sure why its so hot…(hot ear wax).

    would like to have seen a 802.11N version for longer range. Not sure if it can conference, but when people call when u’r on the phone they can hear the beeps from the other caller, its distracting.

    -Kyle

  11. kyle Hourihan Says:

    and 1 more thing… i haven’t seen a way to do txt/IM messages on this IP-EEE-VO phone, maybe i just didn’t see it, but me thinks its not available.

    and 1 more thing (good) there is a software update/grade button so maybe all the things I complained about could/would/should be fixed in a later version of code.

    -K

  12. Emmett Hoops Says:

    I was researching VOIP Skype phones for hours. Then I came upon this review on YouTube. It was so impartial, and so thorough, that I bought the thing today from AmperorDirect.

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