alanwilliamson

3SkypePhone - the final roundup

Life with the new 3SkypePhone has been moving forward and after nearly 3 weeks it still has failed to blow my skirt up in terms of excitement. In my hand I hold a glimpse of the future, but only if I really squint and use my imagination and wonder what-could-be as oppose to what-is. I so do want this to be a success, so we can get away from this under-powered, under-featured and over all poor handset and get on with the next generation of handsets that we can really get to grips with mobile VoIP.

But let us be very clear here. Skype on the mobile handset is not that new. Trundle over to iSkoot and download a Skype client for your Blackberry, Nokia, Sony, and many other major handsets and you'll be talking on Skype via your mobile. No, the difference here with 3 getting involved, is the tariff. This is the real innovation and one that I cannot under value or dismiss.

Three has really pulled off a coup here by bundling the Skype calls to be completely free (okay there is that minimum top-up per month). The fact that they have a dedicated Skype handset I believe is a marketing gimmick to capture and focus the consumer market. I would not be at all surprised if the same Skype software started to roll out on all their future handsets. Why shouldn't it?

Speaking of the 3Skypephone handset, it sucks. There I said it. I have stated the reasons for this a number of times before in previous posts. I thought the handset would grow on me after a number of weeks, but it hasn't. Even the designer of the handset is not using it; he sent me emails via his Blackberry. Therefore the handset needs more real features if it is tempt the likes of me away from our rich functional handsets.

"Even the designer of the handset is not using it"

When the time comes to send it back it won't be a struggle to wrestle it out of my hands. Infact one of the handsets is already boxed and ready to go back as my other reviewer got completely exsperated with it and he refused to continue to use it.

I can sympathize with that view. I have stuck with it, but the Skpe software is buggy and still does not play nicely with the fact that I keep Skype open on my desktop. At least AIM and Y! both realise you are logged into 2 different locations and give you the ability to remotely log off from the other one. Skype badly suffers in this regard.

For example, a Skype call can come in, the handset starts to ring, but the voicemail on the desktop picks it up and starves the handset of the call. The Skype chat has also stopped being in real time. My handset will burp that I have new Skype chat messages a few minutes (sometimes a few hours) after the fact. To be fair, some of these issues are with Skype itself and familiar if you have a laptop and a desktop with Skype both loaded. Skype needs to resolve this issue quickly if mobile devices are to be the new frontier.

As I have also discussed the phone call quality can be shaky if you are not in a fully covered 3G area. This is a major problem and really no getting away from it. What use is a phone that can't actually make a call? I don't think even teenagers will put up with that level of reliability.

There we have it. It's not the future, but we can definitely see it from here.

I would like to thank Three for kindly lending me their handsets to play with. You have to take your hats off to Three. It was a brave move and while on this ocassion I have not been terribly impressed with their product, I am now a big fan of their company. Getting down and dirty with the consumers is the only way forward and for that, my full respect to Three.


 

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