PC-Free Skype Gear Grows

By Greg Scoblete On Dec 4 2006 - 8:00am

Skype's reported 136 million global users have attracted a number of hardware introductions seeking to push the Skype experience further from the PC and deeper into the mainstream market.

IP phone maker 3J Communications announced a new phone for Skype, MSN, Yahoo! Messenger and VoIP Buster service. The 3J-W1D is a 2.4GHz phone with a USB base station with speakerphone that connects to a PC.

The phone can also work with several VoIP soft-phone programs, including SJphone, X-Lite and Eyebeam.

The handset features echo and noise cancellation and displays Skype contacts, including presence and profiles, on its 1.5-inch color LCD. The phone features a 10-hour talktime and a 100-hour standby time.

The W1D retails for a suggested $79.95.

Burlington, Ontario-based headset maker Gennum announced its first Skype-certified Bluetooth headset last month, joining a growing number of dual-use solutions for Skype and cellular telephony.

The nXZEN Bluetooth headset is bundled with a Skype-certified USB adapter for making calls over Skype's PC VoIP network.

The headset offers a noise-canceling DSP chip and the company's Frontwave Extreme technology, seven hours of talktime and 100 hours of standby time. The headset can also be paired with mobile phones and a total of three devices (including the USB adapter).

The headset is shipping now for a suggested $169.

Skype phone maker RTX announced a new model in its DUALphone line. The 3088 is the company's first model to offer Skype calling even when the PC is turned off. The DECT-based phone connects to a PSTN line and a broadband modem. The handset displays Skype contacts and presence on its color LCD.

The phone offers 10 hours of talktime and 140 hours of standby time. RTX makes Skype phones under its own brand and on an OEM basis for other suppliers. The 3088 will be sold under the RTX brand initially through Skype's Web site this month and in Europe.

USRobotics added a Web camera to its line of Skype-certified products.

The 1.3-megapixel USR9640 can transmit video at 30 fps. It can automatically adjust to low-light conditions and offers the ability to adjust brightness, saturation, contrast, and horizontal and vertical reversing.

The USR9640 sports an autofocus lens with a digital zoom and a 70-degree viewing angle. It includes a headset and will ship in January for a suggested $39.99.

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