There are many ways to take advantage of Skype and all it has to offer. You can run its software on your PC, Mac, iPad, iPhone, Android phone, etc. But some of us still enjoy having conversations the old fashioned way – with a landline handset.
That is where the new GE 31591GE1 Digital Cordless Expandable Telephone comes in. This cordless handset has been designed specifically to work with Skype. Sure, there have been many devices to come out like it in the past, but the GE Digital Cordless Expandable Telephone has a significant ace up its sleeve – and that is its ability to also work with your landline. In other words, the system has a dual line capability.
Of course you don’t have to use the system with a landline, and you can always choose to use it exclusively for Skype. This is a great solution if you’re considering jumping ship and getting rid of your landline, but you’re not ready to replace your landline with Skype just yet. Or perhaps it’s that grandma or grandpa want to save money using Skype, but they don’t have a PC – then this PC free solution is a great way for them to start saving money using Skype. Either way, with this device, you have the best of both worlds.
The phone works totally independently of a PC. It’s also fully compatible with Skype – that means it will work with Skype to Skype calls, as well as SkypeOut and SkypeIn phone calls, and even allow you to access your Skype Voicemail. The phone also packs in DECT 6.0 Digital Technology, a 50 name/number call log, up to 10 hours talk time, caller ID/call waiting, a speakerphone, unlike most cordless handsets – it’s software upgradable and it can be expanded with up-to 5 handsets.
An ethernet cable, telephone base, charger, battery pack, and telephone line cord are all included in the package. Set-up is simple. Out of the box you’ll have to connect the GE Digital Cordless Expandable Telephone to your router via ethernet and plug your phone line into the telephone base. You’ll then have to log-in to your Skype account using the phone’s keypad. With a glossy black front plush, complimented by a silver trim and a white back finish, the system itself is quite attractive. Its back is also curved, making it comfortable to hold. Finally, it also sports a blue backlit keypad and a matching blue backlit display. Its set of keys include a dedicated Skype, Speakerphone, and mute button
From the phone’s menu system you can sign in to Skype and see which of your Skype contacts are online and set your Skype status. From the homescreen you can also see the current time and how much credit you have left in your account. Along the top of the handset’s display are icons which indicate reception, missed calls, new voice mail, new authorization requests, battery status and more. When an incoming call comes in, the phone has a Distinctive Ring set up for each line that helps reduce confusion when the phone rings. Overall, the interface is straightforward and simple to use, with all of Skype’s essential function at your fingertips.
We tried using our Skype account to call other Skype users and to make phones calls. As far as Skype to Skype calls are concerned, quality is generally very good. Skype users on the other end said that we sounded very clear and we could hear them well too, although some faint background static could be heard. The same experience applied for SkypeOut calls to regular telephone numbers.
The GE 31591GE1Digital Cordless Expandable Telephone for Skype is truly the modern day answer to the cordless handset. It offers the best of both worlds – the ability to use Skype and save tons of money on calls – while not having to give up your landline. The system is easy to set-up and use, and also provides a quality calling experience.
Currently, Skype is running a special promotion where you can get the GE Digital Cordless Expandable Telephone for $89.99, with a year’s worth of Unlimited calls to US and Canada, plus up to 200 worldwide minutes. You can also choose to get the phone alone for $69.99 and that comes bundled with 400 international minutes. Overall, we think that this is a quite a good value. Considering that a Dect 6.0 cordless handset would cost you at least $30, and that a yearly Skype subscription for calling the U.S. and Canada, would cost around $30 alone, this handset is a great deal. The system also helps transform Skype into a more direct competitor with the likes of NetTalk and MagicJack. Overall, we recommend this system and think that it should give you more reason to be using Skype than ever before.
The Good: Good call quality; attractive design; works independently of a PC; works with your land-line too; easy to set-up and use.
The Bad: Keypad keys are bit stiff; no dedicated volume button; cant purchase credit directly from the handset
Update 10/12/2011: Skype asked us to point out that if you use this telephone handset exclusively for Skype, you wont be able to use the phone to call 911.