Posts filed under ‘voip’
Recently, I decided to set up a Skype phone for my mother. My relatives are now in different places on the globe and it’s costly to call them on the phone. A good number of them have Skype. She would be able to call them for free.
Ironically, I picked the Linksys CIT200 mainly because it was a single purpose phone. Personally, I would like one of those dual phone that allow me to switch between Skype and the landline. However, my mom can’t even figure out how to use call waiting, so she won’t know if she’s in Skype or landline mode. Since CIT200 is a separate phone, we won’t have that issue. It also doesn’t hurt that I got the phone on sell for $30 from Circuit City.
Opinions about the phone
The phone comes in 3 different components:
- The Phone itself – pretty well constructed and uses standard AA batteries. You should be able to find replacement NIMH batteries at most stores.
- The charging station – charges the phone. The construction is not very robust. It would be pretty easy to break.
- The USB base station – this is the part that hooks up to your computer. On a lot of devices, the base station is the charger. In this case, they are separate.
Installation and set up
Installation is pretty easy. I plugged in the charger unit and place the phone on it. The manual states that it should sit on the charger cradle for at least 14 hours. Next, I install the Skype software and then the CIT200 software.
I created an account on Skype and login. I then plugin the base station, which then triggered an automatic device driver install. I switch on the phone and got a pop up asking if I want to use the phone in Skype. I answer yes and the phone’s status indicate I was online.
The phone uses the Skype software computer to talk. It simply act as a mic and speaker device. In order to use it, your computer must be on and you have to be log into Skype.
What I did was to setup Skype to run and login automatically on startup. I also put in $10 of credit for calls.
I have verify that the CIT200 driver will work under Vista. However, I notice that there’s no uninstaller, so it was a pain to remove the software.
Hardware we’re running on
The hardware we are running on is a pretty slow machine.
- eMachine T1221. 1.3 Ghz Celeron, 512 Mb memory.
- USB 2.0 PCI card (since machine is old enough to come with USB 1.1).
- Buffalo Technology WHR-G125 Wireless-G High-Speed Router with QOS for voice over IP.
- Veizon DSL 768K/128K
The Experience on a slow DSL
The phone allows you to test your setup by calling echo123, an account that records your voice and then play it back for testing purposes. Frankly, I was alarmed by the poor quality of echo123′s annoucement message. Fortunately, my recorded voice sounded OK.
Even with the slow DSL of 768K download and 128K upload, the phone sounded fine. The sound quality is somewhere between a cell phone and a landline. I did however hear some odd echos when calling a landline. The echo disappeared when I call the person Skype to Skype overseas.
The Buffalo router’s quality of service (QOS) worked great by giving voice over IP packets higher priority. As a result, the voice quality never dropped even when I attempted to download a file. However, the browsing experience is painful when the CIT200 is in use, since the voice is taking over part of the bandwidth.
A button on the bottom of the phone allow the user to select and call Skype users. Alternatively, you can just dial the number, but you have to enter the international code, even if the call is within the US. If you do call someone, the rate varies from country to country. In a lot of places, the charge is about $0.02 per minute with a minimal minutes of about $0.06. If you make a lot of small calls, you can easily use up your credit.
Overall, I think the CIT200 worked really well.