Reviews, SEO

Belkin Wi-Fi Phone for Skype Review

Belkin Wi-Fi Phone for SkypeBeing someone who uses Skype constantly for both business and personal long distance and PC-to-PC phone calls, I got a Belkin Wi-Fi Phone for Skype ($159.99 at Amazon.com) as a Christmas gift from a loved one who knows just how nerdy I am when it comes to new gadgets. I love them!

Unfortunately, I can only say that I like the new wi-fi phone from Belkin. Appearance-wise, it’s terrific with a sleek black case, color screen and attractive key layout. It’s a good, comfortable size and feels about like a stylish mobile phone. It comes with a USB cable for charging and software updates, as well as a regular power cord for charging. You can use the phone while it’s connected to the charger, which is what I find myself doing a lot.

The sound quality is good and it connected right to my household wi-fi system once I punched in the security code. The controls are easy to access and use. I was quite excited to get going with it and used it for several days without incident.

Then it froze. No matter what I did, the buttons made no difference and the screen stubbornly stuck on 11:38 a.m. and no amount of prodding would break it free. I looked for some sort of reset button like you get with a Palm or other PDA-like device, but there isn’t one. I finally decided that the only way to get the baby to reset would be to take out the battery and put it back in.

Thus, my next problem. The battery cover refused to budge. It was as if it had been super-glued shut. I pulled, pushed, yanked but it held firm. I had no other choice than to resort to the proverbial waste of time – support.

Yep, total waste of time. I tracked down Belkin support, filled out the form to inform them of my problem (frozen screen, stuck battery case) and got an answer from some clueless girl telling me I should go into the menu and use the “reset” function. Duh? The SCREEN IS FROZEN, honey! How the heck am I supposed to do that!

So, back to pulling, tugging and yanking on the battery cover. I finally managed to pry one corner up and get enough leverage to get the darned thing open without breaking it. I pulled the battery out, the phone reset and I was up and running again.

My next disappointment came when I stayed at a hotel that offered free wi-fi. I had hoped to use the phone to make some calls, but, alas, the hotel requires you to open their web page in a browser before you can connect to their access. That’s all, just open their page in a browser – no inputting codes or anything. Just an open browser.

The Belkin phone has no Internet browser, a terrible oversight for a product that people will want to use at Internet cafes and the like. Not a smart move, Belkin.

Yes, the phone is supported by Boingo, which has hotspots here and there. In my area, my choices are a UPS Store or an RV park. Somehow I can’t see myself hanging around those to make phone calls. I’m out of luck at Starbucks, hotels and anywhere without completely open wi-fi access.

Another minor peave is the lack of Skype chat support. The company I do SEO for, Frames Direct, uses Skype chat a lot during the business day, so I can’t plan on using the Belkin Skype phone exclusively for business because there’s no chat support. I understand that trying to do chat on that itsy bitsy keyboard is difficult, but people send text messages all the time on cell phones, so there should be support for chat. If nothing else, I’d like to be able to set the phone up to let people know that I don’t have Skype chat, try me on AIM or whatever.

Anyway, don’t think I’m totally unhappy with the Belkin Wi-Fi-Phone for Skype. I’m not. It’s great to carry around the house with me when I’m not on the computer. It just means I have to switch back and forth between it and a Skype-enabled computer quite a bit. I guess my suggestion for those considering one is to say that it’s great if you just want a wireless Skype phone for home, have no need for Skype chat and don’t plan on trying to use it too many places outside your home network. It’s a shame, but it probably won’t work for you on the road or in your neighborhood Starbucks.

Update – Take a look at my video review of the Belkin Wi-Fi Phone.

Standard

9 thoughts on “Belkin Wi-Fi Phone for Skype Review

  1. Just a follow-up on this. I’ve spent the past week at MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston with my partner who had surgery for a small carcinoma on his kidney (everything turned out great on the surgery). The hospital offered free wi-fi throughout the campus and again, I couldn’t use the Belkin Wi-Fi Phone for Skype. The wi-fi was free but required a passcode to be entered into a browser.

    Same situation at my local Starbucks where I found two wi-fi access points – one for T-Mobile and the other from a nearby company. The T-Mobile signal flat out wouldn’t connect and without a browser, there’s now way to do anything about it. The other company’s signal was secure so a box opened to type in the code. Of course, I didn’t have it, so no Skype calls for me at Starbucks that day.

    If Belkin wants this product to be a success, they’ve GOT TO GET A BROWSER FOR IT!

    Pardon my shouting. 😉

  2. By the way, since I wrote the review I have come across another issue. I have the phone set to “Online” but it ALWAYS showed my status as “Offline” no matter what I have the phone’s status set to. I contacted Belkin and they suggested a reset, which I did, but of course it didn’t work.

    I let Belkin know. I just heard back from them and, as I expected, they pointed me to Skype support. I went to the Skype support forums where a lot of friendly folks offered sympathy and suggestions, but Skype itself never offered any solutions.

    So, I tried a second hard reset of the Belkin phone, which is, of course, a pain since I had to go through and re-enter my Skype information as well as my Wi Fi network encryption code on that teensy keyboard A SECOND TIME. 😉

    Anyway, that seems to have gotten my status when logged into the phone to “Online” for the first time since I’ve owned it (Let’s see, that would be about four months).

    Hope it holds up!

  3. Mike B says:

    Hey,

    Have you tried updating your phone? There have been two major firmware updates. You’ll see both listed at Belkin’s UK support site (not the American Site!). One has to be installed before the other.

    ALSO, Netgear’s WiFi Skype phone allows connection through T-Mobile HotSpots, like at Starbucks.

  4. Interesting that you have to go through the UK site to get these updates. I installed them as you suggested. I also went to my local Starbucks and tried connecting to T-Mobile and ran into exactly the same issue. The phone could see the T-Mobile signal and even connect to it, but in order to get Internet access, you have to login through a browser.

    If you know of a work around, I’d love for you to post it.

  5. Pingback: Annoying Speed Bumps on the Information Superhighway

  6. Pingback: 10 Speed Bumps on the Information Superhighway

  7. I almost purchased this device. But after this review the device doesnt support my needs. Belkin should have included a browser so we can log into other wifi networks at a hotels, starbucks etc. I use my Dell Axim 51V for skype when i’m in a remote location. The only challenge with using the PDA is battery life. If i’m in the hotel with wifi i use my laptop w/ a bluetooth headset. Thanks for the post! You saved me $179.

  8. Robert Coyle says:

    I just ordered the Belkin Wi-Fi phone through Skype, who offered the best price.

    I understand the issues regarding trying to access through a Wi-Fi hotspot that requires one to log in through a web browser, and have complained that the Belkin phone doesn’t support it. I’m sorry that many of these access points are inaccessable, but please remember this is the fault of the establishment providing Internet service (Starbucks, McDonalds, some Dennys, etc.). That’s where the complaint should be levelled, not to Belkin. In my opinion, they have done a good job of offering a relatively inexpensive ($99.95)product that does what it is supposed to do. If there are incompatibility issues, wouldn’t it be a lot easier for Starbucks to use a standard wireless router like the majority of us out here in the real world do?

  9. Pingback: Skype Finally Releases iPhone App

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s