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At last - a Skype phone that really works

As a user of Skype since the service first started, I've tried a number of converters and handsets, but none has really produced calls that have been up the same quality as a PSTN line.

Whilst tottering through John Lewis earlier this week, however, I saw that Philips has released two new dual DECT/VOIP cordless phones for, respectively, Skype and Windows Messenger.

What intrigued me more than a little was the fact that both units interface with the host PC using a USB connection, rather than an Ethernet or WiFi link.

On enquiry, it seems that the USB connection allows the host PC to carry out program load balancing and quality of service on the Skype or Windows Messenger calls.

Put simply, it allows the PC to prioritise the IP traffic flowing to and from the Internet to give the best possible call quality.

This technology is usually seen on commercial VOIP systems - and not on a 60 quid Firrips cordless system. So I bought a Skype version of the phone.

And get this - I can now make Skype/Skype and Skypeout calls (i.e. to the PSTN) without me sounding like I'm calling from the bottom of the ocean.

Coupled with the relatively high level of encryption and protection from snooping now available on Skype, I think I shall be using my shiny new Firrips cordless phone over my regular DECT cordless - even with Skype's new 2.6p Skypeout connection fee...