Usage and Conclusion
The SPH200D supports all Skype features such as voice mail, Skype in and Skype out. Pressing and holding the 1 key on the keypad will take you to the voice mail service and you can also access your normal land line voice mail if your network provides such a service. By pressing the hash key you can lock the keypad. To initiate a landline call, just dial the number on the keypad. Calling Skype contacts is done by selecting your contacts from the contacts menu option from the standby screen. All your Skype contacts are automatically downloaded to the handset.
The menu options are Contacts, History, Status, AddContacts, Search, Services and Settings. The Contacts menu contains your contacts and does the same as the right soft key from the standby screen. History brings up a list of various call history, missed calls etc. as well as requests from other Skype users. The Status menu allows you to change your Skype status, make changes to your profile or sign out from Skype.
AddContacts allow you to add a Skype or Skype Out contact, while Search allows you to search for someone by using their name or email rather than their Skype username. The services menu allows you to check the status of your Skype credit, voicemail and Skype In. Under Settings you can change a wide range of options such as your password, auto sign in, auto answer etc. You can also change the ring tone here and there's a selection of 16 different fairly poor ring tones to choose between. A neat feature is the fact that you can have different ring tones for Skype, Skype In, landline and intercom calls.
If your router or broadband modem need manual settings you can set those up in the Network settings here as well, and in the Handset menu you can register new handsets with the base station and select which one you want to connect to if there are more than one. There are also some landline options and the most useful one is most likely going to be the PABX option, at least if you're going to use the SPH200D in a rented office or a similar environment.
At 141.5 x 46 x 26 mm (HxWxD) and 130g with batteries, the SPH200D isn't that pocket friendly as it's quite tall and it's also quite chubby, but it's by no means uncomfortable to hold. It's quite a lot bigger than we expected, especially compared to the SPH101, but it seems like DECT technology hasn't been miniaturized in the same way as Wi-Fi technology.
The battery life didn't seem that impressive though, Netgear claims 120h standby time and 12h talk time, but we didn't seem to get anywhere near that and even after a few short calls the battery status went from green to red quite quickly. The handset also seemed to switch itself on randomly even though we'd powered it down, so in the morning it would need to be placed in the charger. You wouldn't normally turn off a DECT phone, but this was an odd issue. Traditional DECT phones tend to last up towards a week and you can use them for three or four days without a charge.
It could well be that the AAA batteries are the problem here, since all DECT phones we've used in the past use AA batteries which has about twice the power of the AAA's that came with the SPH200D. One other advantage we haven't mentioned that DECT brings is that it operates at 1.9GHz, which means it won't be prone to interference, unlike many Wi-Fi or Bluetooth devices.
Overall, the SPH200D is a competent package and it's easy to install which makes it ideal for anyone looking at getting easy access to Skype. The only downside we can see is that the SPH200D package costs around $220-230 AUD, although it retails for less than $150 US which seems a little bit unfair. An additional SPH150D handset will set you back between $113-120 AUD if you shop around.
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