January 5th, 2006

Netgear/Skype Wi-Fi Phone

Netgear and Skype announced a Wi-Fi handset today that doesn’t seem to require a PC. The Wi-Fi chipset is in the handset (I guess?). I am looking forward to trialing this device.

My experience with CE devices with Wi-Fi has been so-so to date. Finding an “open” network has become increasingly difficult even in San Francisco. Also, even free Wi-Fi is a challenge if registration is required on a homepage/splash page as these devices lack the QWERTY keyboard and Internet browsers required for set-up. My last experience with free Wi-Fi was painful. I was in a 3G-Free zone over the holidays at my parents who have Wi-Fi/Broadband, but it’s from an unnamed service provider that locks down the access. I had to go to a national chain offering free Wi-Fi – it took 15 to 20 minutes on average to download each email with an attachment of 1MB. That said, voice requires a lot less bandwidth.

Given that Netgear/Skype are fully aware of these common issues, I’m sure they’ve designed solutions. The evolution of Wi-Fi in CE devices is exciting, and I look forward to seeing what they will bring to market.

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