The other iPhone: Linksys' cordless landline with in-built Skype support
By Loz Blain
July 8, 2007
July 9, 2007 Linksys has stepped into the market with an iPhone of its own - it's nothing to do with Apple's hysterically successful new mobile unit though. The Linksys iPhone is a dual-mode telephone that can operate like a normal landline or hook up to your computer to make or receive peer-to-peer internet voice calls using a Skype client that's loaded directly into the handset. While the quality of Skype connections can range from crystal-clear to highly dodgy, the prices (free worldwide Skype-to-Skype and very cheap international/long distance calls) have made it an extremely popular way to stay in touch; many look upon Skype as the landline version 2.0. The no-frills Linksys iPhone lets you make and answer calls from the landline and Skype in one integrated unit. It looks to be a fantastic tool for heavy Skype users, and will no doubt encourage others to make the switch to internet telephony.
Linksys, a Division of Cisco Systems, Inc., recently announced the immediate availability of its new iPhone Dual-Mode Internet Telephony Kit with Skype (CIT400). This dual-mode wireless handset and base-station package allows users to choose to make calls to Skype users over the Internet without the need for a computer, or to place normal telephone calls over an existing standard telephone line, all from the same handset.
As part of the Linksys iPhone family, the CIT400 iPhone embeds the popular Skype communications client into a cordless phone base station that is attached directly to the home network via Ethernet. Placing a call to an online Skype buddy is as simple as looking up your contacts on the high-resolution color screen, and dialing. If your contact is not part of the Skype network, or you wish to call a normal landline or mobile phone, then it’s as easy as making a regular phone call, all with the one device.
The CIT400 also supports SkypeOut and SkypeIn dialing (paid Skype services that give users cheap long-distance and overseas calls to non-Skype landlines and mobiles through the Skype network) as well as offering a convenient Skype contact list display and CallerID functionality. The handset also supports call waiting and Skype's optional voicemail service. When users are on a call, they can hit the Mute button for privacy, or use the speakerphone function to let everyone join in the conversation.
Pricing and Availability: The Linksys Dual-Mode Internet Telephony Kit with Skype (CIT400) is immediately available through major retailers, online resellers and VARs for around US$180.
Oh, and what of the brand name confusion? Well, "iPhone" was trademarked by Infogear back in 1996, and the company was bought out by Cisco (parent company of Linksys) in 2000. The Linksys iPhone family has been shipping since 2005 with the CIT200 model. That doesn't seem to have stopped Apple using the name as well, so we'll assume that deals have been done.