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Skype Goes PC Free with New Phones

Luxembourg — Skype is fleeing the PC with a pair of cordless phones designed to call over Skype’s peer-to-peer VoIP network with a computer turned off.

New Skype-certified DECT cordless phones from Netgear and Phillips will be the first Skype products that allow consumers to use the free calling service without having the PC turned on. Instead, the phones’ base station will be loaded with Skype software and will connect directly to a broadband modem.

Existing Skype cordless phones have to be connected to a PC, which in turn must be powered on and running Skype to work.

The new products bring similar functionality as other standalone VoIP products like Vonage, but Skype will continue to market its service as an adjunct to a computer and not a landline replacement – although both the Philips and Netgear phones can also connect to landlines.

Both the Philips VOIP841 and Netgear’s cordless phone for Skype will be shipping for the holidays with retail prices in the range of $150.

For existing Skype users, contacts can be downloaded into the phone and integrated with landline contacts. Color displays on the handsets show Skype contacts and the handsets also feature speakerphones. The phones also support SkypeIn for receiving landline or mobile calls, SkypeOut for placing Skype calls to landlines or mobiles and Skype Voicemail.