By Lisa Johnston
New products on display at the American International Toy Fair, held in N
Skype users will increasingly be able to access the service through cellular phones thanks to new products and applications introduced recently.
Qool Labs announced a device for bridging GSM mobile phones, Skype and landline calls. The SkyQube features a SIM card slot, PC connection and RJ11 jack for placing calls on Skype using a landline or mobile phone. The device supports caller ID, follow-me calling, SMS messaging between Skype chat and GSM phones, and includes a built-in duplex speakerphone and answering machine.
Consumers can program the SkyQube to forward Skype calls to their mobile phones using SkypeOut or to forward calls to another computer running Skype to avoid SkypeOut fees.
A version will also be sold without the SIM card slot.
Skype also announced that it has licensed mobile VoIP provider HelloSoft's technology for placing Skype calls on smartphones and Pocket PCs.
iSkoot announced Skype certification for its mobile phone-based Skype application of the same name. iSkoot is a mobile phone application that lets users place Skype calls using local rates and minutes.
The client works with phones from Nokia, Motorola and Palm and is available as a free download from the company's Web site.
For the deskbound, motherboard manufacturer Asus announced several Skype-embedded motherboards. PCs with the TA-CP600/400, M2N/TeleSky, P5B/TeleSky and P5LD2 SE boards installed can use their regular home phones to operate the Skype application.
More conventional Skype gear was also introduced by Taiwan-based Animation Technologies and Ireland-based Futiro.
Animation Technologies' SkyPad VoIP system combines a wireless handset, Web cam and base station. The handset supports SkypeIn/Out calling and displays contacts on its LCD screen.
The Web camera can be clipped to a table or display or placed on a flat surface. It offers a focus ring. The base station connects to a PC via USB and charges the handset, docks the camera and offers three additional USB ports to serve as a hub for other devices.
The company's SkyChat "instant VoIP box" lets users place Skype calls using a regular home phone. It connects to a PC and a traditional phone. The device supports call waiting, call on hold, three-way calling/conference, call forwarding, call recording and caller ID.
Futiro introduced three USB phones for use with Skype and other PC VoIP services. The top-of-the-line Luna phone offers a full keypad, hands-free speakerphone and call conferencing. The phone connects directly to a computer via USB and includes a base for charging. It will retail for a suggested $70.
The Terra, for a suggested $60, offers a four-button design, echo reduction and a choice of ring tones.
Finally, the Solo is a portable USB phone with a four button design. It will ship with a carrying case and will retail for a suggested $50.
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