Archive for the ‘General’ Category

Asus AiGuru SV1 Skype Videophone Review

February 24, 2009

Here is a review of Asus AiGuru SV1 Skype Standalone Videophone from our customer.

Pros: Good sound / video quality, easy to use, easy to setup.
Cons: The battery life can be improved.

I guess the 20mins battery life is related to the manufacturer’s design philosophy. The battery is designed just for short term use. You can temporary move around with the AiGuru SV1 while conducting Skype calls. However, it’s better to find a power outlet and have the device hook up to it if you anticipate to talk for a long time.

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Thanksgiving Skype Crossword Puzzle

November 13, 2008

– and Real Prizes

Come to check out our Skype Thanksgiving Crossword Puzzle. If you complete it and send us your result / information, you are in for the $100 Bestbuy Gift Card give-away drawing. Who in US cannot use extra $100 for the coming Black Friday shopping!

Have Fun.

PS. This is a very easy puzzle. However, here is the hint page just in case you need any help.

Skype Help on Video Session #1

October 7, 2008

In the below Youtube Clip you will see our “Fax Via Skype” video clip generated by our new sales lady.

The full script is at Here.

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September 7, 2007

IPEVO SOLO Introduction

SOLO is the latest IPEVO release; and their first to move the Skype conversation out of the computer box. Connecting IPEVO SOLO to your router or cable modem, you will get a true stand-alone PC-Less Skype desktop phone. IPEVO SOLO is currently available in some Asian countries and will reach the US coast very soon.

What’s in the IPEVO SOLO Box?

Through AmperorDirect’s oversea department, we were able to get a hold of an IPEVO SOLO. The Asian version retail box includes:

  • IPEVO SOLO base unit
  • Handset
  • AC adapter
  • Graphical hardware installation guide
  • Quick setup guide
  • User manual
  • 6 Ft. network cable

Unique Features

IPEVO SOLO is a decent designed Skype desktop phone. With the embedded version Skype software provided by Skype, it can handle the Skype incoming and outgoing calls without the need of a computer, and can do most of the extra functions such as speed dial and call diverting that we see on other PC-Less phones such as Netgear SPH200D and GE 28310EE1. However, there are some unique features which make the IPEVO SOLO stand out from its competitors.

Eye-catching LCD Display

The first thing I notice on IPEVO SOLO is the beautiful large sized LCD display. You can see a comparison of the screen on IPEVO SOLO and Netgear SPH200D at the side picture: a picture is worth a thousand words.

The big display on IPEVO SOLO does make the phone operation easier. For example, it is the first PC-Less phone that can fully present a long Skype ID, such as the “Echo / Sound Test Service”, on one screen. (Previously, the PC-Less phone will set the highlighted Skype ID to scroll mode so that the user can view the full name.) With this, IPEVO SOLO enables users to find the correct contact name on the screen faster.

Magnetized Handset

Yes, this old feature that used to be seen on a high quality home phone has finally made onto a Skype phone. The IPEVO SOLO handset is magnetized and thus can stay firmly on the base unit (which is also magnetized).

Have one Network Connection Only? No Problem…

The reason I like products from IPEVO is this company always take extra steps to think through what potential users need. On the back of IPEVO SOLO’s base unit, there is a WAN port and a LAN port. An IPEVO user doesn’t need to buy an extra switch / router or sacrifice the network connection to the computer, if there is only one network connection available. Just plug in the network cable from the modem to SOLO’s WAN port and connect the computer to SOLO’s LAN port, both the SOLO and the computer can be online simultaneously.

In addition, IPEVO SOLO provides four different network connection modes: DHCP, static IP, PPPOE dynamic IP and PPPOE static IP mode. This should be able to cover all the possible real-use situations.

A Universal AC Adapter with Interchangeable Plug

The AC power adapter of IPEVO SOLO is rated at 100~240Vac. There is a push button on the adapter to pop out the plug. With the right plug, IPEVO SOLO has the potential to be used in domestic and oversea. However, at this moment, it is not clear if the final US version will include the European plugs.

IPEVO SOLO comes with a Pre-registered Skype Account

In the Asian version, each IPEVO SOLO comes with a unique pre-registered Skype account (w ID and password). This feature can be helpful if I want to send IPEVO SOLO as a gift to a person who has limited computer knowledge. Again, it is not clear if the pre-registered Skype account will be included in the final US version.

The Look?

The IPEVO SOLO we purchased comes with a black base unit and white handset. There is also a black handset version available. I have mixed feedback from my co-workers about the IPEVO SOLO design. But, those feedbacks can be very subjective basing on my co-workers’ taste. I think the best way for me to do is to provide pictures with IPEVO SOLO taking from different angles and on different table surfaces. You can make your own call.

Question Mark on the Audio Performance

The best way to describe my IPEVO SOLO sample voice quality is it can match the cell phone audio performance. I get distortion here and there in my testing but the overall quality is ok. It is a little disappointed especially after seeing what IPEVO can do on FREE1 – a USB phone. However, I also understand the issue might be on the embedded version Skype software provided by Skype. It comes with the 8KHz audio sampling rate. If IPEVO tries to upgrade it to 16KHz to match the sound quality on FREE1, the cost would go up.

The other possibility is we purchased a bad unit. The unit is from an auction site and I don’t know whether it is a pre-production unit or not. After reporting this issue to IPEVO US, I had a chance to talk to their tech support in California (he was on a SOLO too). The strange thing is that I can hear him ok on my SOLO without those distortions. I’m kind of making the conclusion that my unit is bad. I’ll report the audio quality again when I can get a hold of a US version IPEVO SOLO.

Wish List

As usual, I’ll provide my wish list for the next generation IPEVO SOLO.

  • Build a dualphone to handle both Skype and PSTN calls.
  • There is a USB port in the back of the SOLO. Can we connect a webcam to the port and do Skype Video using that big LCD screen? It will be a stand-alone PC-Less Video phone!!!
  • A way to connect to the wireless network. (maybe using that USB port?)

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Skype is Playing Nice

August 21, 2007

Skype LogoThis is what I got from Skype. They are extending the subscription period of Skype Pro, Skype Unlimited, SkypeIn and Skype Voicemail for 7 days, for free, to compensate the crazy blackout happening last week.

—–Original Message—–


You may or may not know but last week Skype wasn’t available for a couple of days. There were a number of reasons for this and I am delighted to say that the problem is now well and truly sorted and everything is back to normal. For those of you who tried to use Skype during that time but couldn’t, we’re very sorry. For those of you who didn’t try to use Skype – well thankfully you were not affected but we want to reassure everyone that Skype is now working happily and the problem is fixed.

We know we have many faithful users out there who give us feedback (good and bad) on what we’re doing as a company. The Skype community makes us what we are. Without you, our users, we simply wouldn’t exist. We’ve helped people stay in touch with their friends and family over the past four years without any massive hitch and we want it to stay that way.

When the unexpected happens, it’s important to remember the people who stuck behind us and whose loyalty humbled us. I want to thank everyone for their support, patience and being part of the Skype community. And for those of you who missed out on using Skype last week – I want to especially thank you as well.

As a goodwill gesture to all you faithful Skype Pro, Skype Unlimited, SkypeIn or Skype Voicemail customers, we’re adding an additional seven days to your current subscription, free of charge. And even if you didn’t miss out on using Skype last week – you can still have a week free on Skype, on the house!

So please enjoy it, call your loved ones, friends, family and colleagues and thanks again.

Talk soon,
The people at Skype

—–Original Message—–

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Skype Outage

August 17, 2007

Finally, my Skype account is back to normal. It is unfortunately that the Skype Outage happens when I am on the road for a business trip. Now I realize how easy and convenient to use Skype and how much I depend on it.

I’ve made this “I survive Skype Outage 2007” icon. You are welcome to download and use it. Hope I won’t need to do another icon anymore.


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IPEVO FREE.1 vs. Knockoffs

August 13, 2007

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 I cannot find any manufacturer or software update link in black knockoff’s program.




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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IPEVO TRIO Product Review

August 8, 2007

IPEVO TRIO Introduction:

As promoted by IPEVO, TRIO is truly designed with versatility in mind. TRIO has an acceptable speaker phone quality and it can be a cost effective Skype conference phone solution.

With a single button to easily switch between handset and hands-free mode, a person can pick up the IPEVO TRIO and use it as a Skype USB phone without difficulties. Since the TRIO has a smallish footprint, travelers can put the IPEVO device into the carrying pouch (included in the retail package) and bring it on the road.

IPEVO TRIO standingPackage Includes:

  • IPEVO TRIO handset
  • USB extension cable
  • Carrying pouch
  • Installation CD
  • Quick installation Guide

The Look:

I was impressed by the look of IPEVO TRIO. The outline design is elegant. The color fits into any office environment without any problem. The paint on the case is strong enough to pass my fingernail scratch test. The fact that IPEVO TRIO can either be laid down on the table to provide easy access in a multi-speakers situation or be stood up in front of a single user to accomplish best voice quality shows that IPEVO has thought through all the real-world scenarios.

IPEVO TRIO hadset handsfree switch Voice Quality:

IPEVO TRIO has two modes to conduct Skype calls: handset mode and hands-free mode. There is an easily reachable button at the side of the phone to toggle between modes. In handset mode, the voice quality is very good. Although I was surprised to see the voice sampling rate in the IPEVO TRIO specification is only 8KHz and does not fully comply to Skype’s highest 16KHz standard; the result is still ok. I am not sure if it is a typo or not because I can not tell the sound quality difference between using IPEVO TRIO and a USB phone which claims to have 16KHz sampling rate.

IPEVO TRIO gap at the bottom to put the cable inIn hands-free mode (speaker), IPEVO TRIO performs better than other desktop Skype phones, such as Netgear SPH200D and GE 28310EE1, in the same mode. It is a true conference phone solution.

However, the microphone sensitivity of the IPEVO TRIO is not up to par to the Polycom Communicator, a direct competitor. This means a person needs to speak closer to the microphone in order to attain better performance. Considering the price different between Polycom Communicator (MSRP: $129) and IPEVO TRIO (MSRP: $79), the trade-off is acceptable, and expected.

IPEVO TRIO function keysFunctions:

The most-talked-about feature of IPEVO TRIO is its recording function. It is done with software, FreeRec which is included in the package and installed along with the driver.

During a call, a user can click on the red circle recording button on the phone to save the conversation. The microphone volume level on TRIO can be set to auto-adjust by FreeRec. There is no setup in the software for recording time limit (I guess the HDD capacity is the true limit). But, FreeRec allows users to reduce the voice sampling rate which can significantly lower the saved file size.

IPEVO TRIO’s recording has a time delay between pushing the red button and the actual starting of the recording session. The computer needs several seconds to load FreeRec software into the system. Therefore, it is recommended to manually run the FreeRec software from the TRIO icon at the Windows tool bar before the call – if you expect the need to record the conversation

Most other IPEVO TRIO’s functions, such as volume up and down, call, hang-up and microphone muting, can be activated through buttons on the phone. Those buttons are marked clearly with symbols and are simple / obvious to use. There is also a green “S” button on the phone which allows users to toggle between different Skype tabs, such as “Contacts”, “Call Phones” and “History”, on the computer screen.

Skype IconWish List:

The IPEVO TRIO has nearly all the features I would look for in a conference phone. However, there is one thing I would like to see on the next generation IPEVO TRIO: a button on the phone to select different Skype contacts on the computer screen. If this button is available, I don’t need to go back to my computer keyboard and mouse to pick the right Skype contact to call. It will be very convenient if we can do all the necessary steps to conduct Skype calls through the phone.


IPEVO TRIO can perform several different Skype tasks in one unit, while still providing respectable voice quality. If you are a SOHO or are running a small business with a mid-level budget, the IPEVO TRIO is the right Skype conference call solution for you.

By the way, it’s a pleasant experience to test IPEVO TRIO. When I see the USB extension cable and the carrying pouch in the package, and the English manual written in real English, I know the IPEVO design team has really taken the end users’ need into consideration. As a product qualifying engineer who has checked out tons of products from the Far East, I feel very good in finally seeing an Asian vendor providing a quality product. Good job, IPEVO.

PS. My co-worker said that I look like a detective recording messages on a tape recorder in an old Hollywood movie when I’m using TRIO’s recording function. Do I?

More Reviews on IPEVO products


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Good Skype Introduction Article

August 2, 2007

Through the tag surfer function at wordpress, I found this excellent introduction article about Skype. Read it if you are still sitting on the fence and cannot decide if you want to give Skype a try. It brought back the exciting feeling I had when I first converted to Skype. “I can call A, B, and C for free!” “I can do this and this with this new gadget!” It’s like having a whole new world to conquer…..

Good Job, Smmellott.


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News about IPEVO

August 1, 2007

Saw a news at DigiTimes this morning saying that PCHome Taiwan has spin out its hardware accessory department, IPEVO.

Here are some interesting notes from the news:

  • IPEVO will eventually get into the industry outside Skype. (For example: products to do Internet video or mp3 audio.)
  • IPEVO plans to roll out its own Skype Wifi phone and webcam solution in the second half of this year.
  • ID SoftCapital Group is considering to investing IPEVO. (ID SoftCapital Group was established by Acer Founder, Stan Shih, together with venture capital veterans and former Acer senior management, offering expertise in asset and fund management, and consulting services.)

AmperorDirect is in the process of sourcing and qualifing IPEVO’s skype phones. We will publish our product reviews at here soon.


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GE Skype DECT Phone 28310EE1 Product Review – Part I

July 25, 2007



The GE Skype Dect phone 28310EE1 is the latest release in GE’s Skype phone product line. It has Skype – a peer to peer communication program — embedded to provide users a true PC-Less Skype experience. It also employs DECT technology to insure no interference with other home cordless technology such as WiFi network and 2.4GHz digital phone.

According to market sources, this phone uses the same design blueprint as RTX’s Skype Dect Phone 3088. Therefore, for the RTX Dualphone fans in US, your wait to upgrade to the PC-Less Skype phone solution could be over.

GE Skype DECT phone 28310EE1 boxThe GE Skype Dect phone 28310EE1 Package Includes:

  • Base unit
  • Handset
  • Handset cradle (with an universal AC adapter connected to the cradle)
  • 2 Nimh Battery
  • Cables (1 network, 1 PSTN)
  • 1 universal AC adapter for the Base unit
  • Belt clip
  • Instruction
  • Warranty card


“Straightforward” is the best word to describe the installation process of the GE Skype Dect Phone 28310EE1. Just follow the manual:GE Skype DECT phone 28310EE1 cables

  • Make connections (network cable, telephone cable, and AC adapters for both the base unit and the handset cradle)
  • Insert batteries to the handset and leave the handset on the cradle to charge the batteries for 16 consecutive hours
  • Now you are ready to sign in your Skype ID and start using the GE Skype Dect phone 28310EE1.

The Skype account sign-in process on the GE Skype Dect phone 28310EE1 is also a breeze. It looks to me like Skype has provided its PC-Less phone solution hardware developers a unified procedure. We have seen the similar steps / display in Netgear SPH200D and the Skype WiFi phones from SMC and Netgear. If you are a frequent Skype user, you should feel at home with the sign-in process.

Skype LogoOn the other hand, you don’t need to worry if you are the first time Skype user. The on-screen instruction for signing up a new Skype account is intuitional. As long as you know the method to switch between capital case / lower case / number input, which is very similar to it is in cell phone and regular digital phone, you will be fine.

The only thing I don’t like in the GE Skype Dect phone 28310EE1 setup is the long 16 Hours first time charging requirement for the handset battery. However, overall, it is not that bad since it is a one-time-only process. Besides, because the batteries used in the handset are two AAA Nimh batteries, a full 16 Hours charge is recommended to achieve the maximum long term battery life.

Call Quality

GE Skype DECT phone 28310EE1Here is where the GE Skype Dect phone 28310EE1 really shines. The call quality is excellent. I have tried the GE Skype Dect phone 28310EE1 at three different locations: my office (T1 line), my home (AT&T ADSL service) and my co-worker’s house (Comcast cable service). It’s easy to hear callers with no problem and the voice quality is reported as being normal to excellent by those whom I queried. There are small number of times when the voice gets choppy and distorted when I talked to people oversea. However, I suspect it is due to the temporary clogging Internet connection issue, not because of the GE Skype Dect phone 28310EE1.

One of the major improvements from RTX’s previous version Dualphone to this GE Skype Dect phone 28310EE1 is the offering of the hands-free speaker phone. During the conversation, the speaker phone can be activated by hitting the left selection button on the handset. Although the speaker phone quality is decent, I am not so impressed on the results comparing to the call conduct by the handset.

Handset Design

GE Skype DECT phone 28310EE1 handset designThe GE Skype Dect phone 28310EE1 handset looks like a regular 2.4GHz digital home phone. It has a color LCD screen to display both the Skype and PSTN call information. While conducting different tasks, users will regularly encounter functions that require one of two options. These functions will be shown on screen clearly and can be executed by the left and right on-screen selection buttons on the handset.

As a default, the handset will get into standby mode after being idle for 1 minute — which is a great way to save battery power. Pressing any key or lifting the cradle will ‘awaken’ the sleeping LCD screen. However, pressing any key to awaken the handsets presents a minor issue. When the handset is not on the cradle and is in standby mode there is no null function key designed on keypad. Any key a user hit to wake up the handset will perform a function. The user thus needs to hit several number of key (the number depends on which function is activated) to get back to the home screen.

Another thing I notice on the handset is that the keypads are designed with more resistance. Combining with the half sec built-in delay in the keypad confirmation sound (beeping sound after the keypads are hit), I get the feeling that GE engineers really want the users to key-in the phone numbers slowly with caution. It is not something good or bad. But, it’s something an inpatient user like me needs to get used to.

There are more… Click here to see the Part-II of the Review

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I’m back + Animator_Vs_Animation_2

February 15, 2007

I’ve been super busy with the construction of our new site:, and our new product line: Voltz Guitar Effect Pedal Board Power Supply. Finally, most of the tasks on the list have been completed. Now, I can get back to work on the VOIP side. I know I owe you guys some test results on the new Skype embedded phones, and some replys on the comments. I’ll try to catch up as fast as I can.

Here is a super cool flash clip I found on Internet. It’s like the matrix + Kong Fu. Remember to hit the “Play” tab on the center of the screen after it is loaded. Have FUN!!!

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