Laptop-friendly Skype/iChat phone, light, nice sound quality and affordable price. Small USB dongle and recharges through USB too.
The first thing that stood out when I was shown this 100$ phone (80$ at MacWorld) is that instead of having an untransportable base-station, it has a USB key-like dongle which is easy to carry around with the handset. The handset itself is light, has good autonomy, and is recharged (3AAA batteries) with a pretty much standard USB cable
, as shown in the picture. It’s something I can imagine carrying around all the time in my computer bag.
You can scroll through your Skype and iChat contacts on the phone easily, and even scroll through the Skype contact list which is displayed on your computer from the phone (it’s a bit eerie, as if the phone were a remote mouse or something). At first I wondered what the purpose of this feature was, but actually, even though the LCD display on the phone is very nice, it’s still even nicer to go through your contacts on your computer screen.
Besides the up/down, green-red, and normal number keys you’d expect on a phone, the Dialog+ has only three “special” keys: one to display call history (you can use it to toggle between received, outgoing, and missed calls), one to display your contact list (use it to toggle between all contacts and online contacts), and a third button (clear/backspace) which allows you to take control of the Skype contact list on your computer. It’s pretty easy to figure out what each button does and memorize it.
I personally don’t use iChat much, particularly for voice (I use Adium for instant messaging, and unfortunately it doesn’t do voice over IM), but I placed a couple of Skype calls to check the sound quality. My hearing is slightly impaired and I sometimes find that volume settings on phones don’t allow me to listen at a comfortable level. Not the case here, I could hear the person I was speaking with very clearly. However, people on the other end do hear an echo if the volume is set too high, and have complained a bit about the audio quality they receive. This can be due to the quality of the Skype connection, but I’ll try lending my phone to somebody and have them call me to hear for myself.
Setting up the phone was rather simple: close Skype, install the driver from the CD, pair the phone with the dongle by pressing the little square button on top of it. At first my phone said there was “No contact list”, so I tried reinstalling the driver and re-opening/closing Skype, and it worked. Not quite sure what went wrong, but it fixed itself quite nicely. The instructions booklet is just the right thickness and contains clear explanations. I would, however, call this a “cordless” phone rather than “wire-free” — when I read that on the back of the phone, I went “wi-fi phone?!”, which of course, is incorrect.
So, to sum it up: very happy about the toy and its design. I’ll certainly be using it. I just unwittingly gave it its first crash test by kicking it off the sofa as I was writing this post, and it survived. According to the booklet, it has good autonomy. I still need to dig into the audio quality a little, and see how it works when I start walking about my flat with it (upto 25 meters range).
I was disappointed at first that I couldn’t send text messages from it, but actually, that’s not too bad: if I have the Dialog+, I have my computer nearby — and anyway, Skype text messages aren’t always very reliable (for example, depending on the carrier, they don’t give your own phone number as the “reply” number, and messages get lost).
Great job, Miglia — oh, and I nearly forgot: Miglia’s interest being hardware sales, the phone comes with free software upgrades. For life. Neat!