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Most people know Skype as an online voice chat service, but it also can be used as a WiFi phone. To do this you'll need to purchase a WiFi phone which has been programmed for use with Skype. These phones allow you to navigate a special Skype interface which allows you to call your Skype contacts and also allows calls to landlines and cell phones if you have purchased the SkypeOut service. These phones can be used anywhere as long as an open WiFi connection is available. This guide selects three of the best Skype Wifi phones so that you can start making Skype calls as quickly as possible.
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Belkin Skype WiFi Phone
One of the first Skype WiFi phones to hit the market, the Belkin Skype WiFi Phone attempts to take advantage of Belkin's experience as a manufacturer of networking products like routers and switches. This seems to have paid off, as the Belkin Skype WiFi phone has amazing call clarity. It is, on the whole, better than most cell phones. The Belkin product is also well designed and durable. The plastic does not feel cheap and the phone's style is reminiscent the Sony Ericsson open-face phones, which isn't bad company to be in.
The primary flaw with the Belkin phone seems to be software glitches. Many users have reported that the phone will occasionally stutter or freeze. The Belkin phone also lacks support for most of Skype's features, like checking our profiles or chat. Finally, the Belkin phone seems to have problems with connecting to networks that are not open even if the password has been provided. Still, despite these negatives, the Belkin's price of around $130 and its crystal clear call quality makes it well worthy of consideration.
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Ipevo S0-20 Skype WiFi Phone
Ipevo is a name you probably haven't heard of before, but in Skype circles the company is well regarded. They make the brilliant Free2 USB phone and also this, the Ipevo S0-20 Skype WiFi phone. Like the Belkin, the Ipevo S0-20 is an open-faced phone. It isn't quite as slick to look at as the Belkin, but the keypad is still easy and the screen is bright. Call quality is roughly on par with the Belkin phone as well.
Where the Ipevo really stands out, though, is its user interface. While the Belkin has been panned by reviewers for a clunky and buggy UI, the Ipevo S0-20 has an outstanding interface which allows users to do just about anything they could do with the Skype program. You can check on contacts, change Skype settings, and check on your Skype account. The phone also seems to handle connections to secure networks more easily. On the downside, the Ipevo doesn't have speakerphone and its screen is know to scratch easily. Still, those are minor flaws, at $130 dollars the Ipevo S0-20 is an outstanding value.
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Panasonic Skype WiFi Phone
Panasonic's entry into the Skype WiFi Phone market is a bit different from the Belkin and the Ipevo. Both of those phones aim to be something of a mix between a traditional phone and a cell phone and are sized accordingly. The Panasonic Skype WiFi phone is much larger and, as well constructed as the other two are, much better looking. The Panasonic is in fact nearly the size of a normal phone, although a bit thinner.
At this point you could be excused for wondering what the point of a WiFi phone is if it is too large to take with you to use at various WiFi hotspots. Panasonic answers this through the inclusion of a "travel router" which is meant to create an easy to use WiFi hotspot while you're away from home. This unveils who Panasonic is going after with this device - frequent travelers. The Panasonic Skype WiFi phone is perfect for anyone who find themselves regularly occupying a hotel room but doesn't want to have to pay for a cell phone plan with unlimited minutes. Unfortunately the inclusion of the router drives the price up, as the Panasonic usually costs around $280 dollars. Those in the Panasonic's target demographic will probably find this price acceptable, but users who stick close to home will probably be better off with the Belkin or Ipevo.