×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Wi-Fi Phones Reviewed

Zonk posted more than 7 years ago | from the far-better-than-regular-fi dept.

Handhelds 77

prostoalex writes "With municipal Wi-Fi taking off and startups distributing free wireless routers for those willing to share their Internet connections, Wi-Fi phones or hybrid phones with both cellular and Wi-Fi access, are attracting interest. Dr. Dobb's Journal runs a review of 6 wireless phone devices available on the market today. The cheapest ones start around $80, but lock you into T-Mobile branded hotspots. The more expensive ones, Sony Mylo in particular, offer support for 3rd party clients, such as Skype, GTalk and Yahoo! Messenger."

cancel ×
This is a preview of your comment

No Comment Title Entered

Anonymous Coward 1 minute ago

No Comment Entered

77 comments

Linux (4, Informative)

bendodge (998616) | more than 7 years ago | (#17867338)

How about some much cheaper Linux smartphones! http://www.linuxdevices.com/articles/AT9423084269. html [linuxdevices.com]

Re:Linux (1)

troll -1 (956834) | more than 7 years ago | (#17868468)

I run Familiar Linux [handhelds.org] on an IPAQ pocket PC that has phone capabilities. The problem with these devices is finding a decent carrier in the US. Cell phone markets tend to be anti-competitive in the sense that third party devices are often excluded. For example, I bought a Treo-650 from Sprint but when I switched to Cingular I had to buy another phone because the one from Sprint doesn't work on Cingualr's network.

Re:Linux (1)

Aladrin (926209) | more than 7 years ago | (#17869076)

That has nothing to do with 'third party devices'. To a cellular provider, ALL phones are third party.

And NO phone that works on Sprint can be moved to Cingular. They are completely incompatible. On the other hand, if your phone is unlocked, you can freely move to AT&T (now Cingular anyhow, ugh) and T-Mobile, and quite a few very tiny companies on the same system. Metro-PCS in Central Florida is on it, I believe. (Not real sure, though.)

The 'problem with these devices' is not 'finding a carrier' but instead 'knowing which carriers they work with'.

Take my advice: Buy the phone to fit the carrier, don't find a carrier to fit the phone. You'll be a LOT happier that way.

Re:Linux (1)

paulthomas (685756) | more than 7 years ago | (#17869200)

It went AT&T -> Cingular -> AT&T. That's where the "ugh" comes in. AT&T: Your World Delivered ... illegally to the Federal Government.

To quote Cingular.com, "Cingular is now The New AT&T." Although that slogan itself is somewhat confusing, you had it backwards.

Re:Linux (1)

Aladrin (926209) | more than 7 years ago | (#17869532)

lol I dunno anymore. The TV commercial I just saw tonight showed both freaking logos. (I was fast-forwarding, yay for DVR!)

And honestly, I don't care about them. I've never liked either company and my entire family has had more problems with both of them, especially AT&T, that it'll be a miracle (or a travesty, maybe) if we're ever a customer of theirs again.

I've heard bad things about T-Mobile, and the local customer service sucks pretty bad, but ... ah well. How do you choose between evils? If my mother hadn't signed the entire family into 2-yr contracts to get free phones that she'll probably never use, I'd probably try MetroPCS since they have unlimited calling cheaper than I pay right now.

Re:Linux (1)

squiggleslash (241428) | more than 7 years ago | (#17872188)

Always check with people in the area who use a particular carrier what their experiences are before signing up. You can't really go on "I heard bad things about...", "I heard good things about..." because if you go by that logic, they all suck.

All carriers are strong in some areas and weak in others. (Worse still, this situation changes over time, as carriers gain subscribers (bad) and expand their network (good.))

Re:Linux (1)

Cato (8296) | more than 7 years ago | (#17879862)

In the US, Sprint and Verizon run CDMA-based wireless networks, whereas T-Mobile and Cingular/AT&T run GSM, which is the standard used everywhere in Europe and by 80-90% of the world's mobile phones. So it's nothing to do with Sprint policies that you can't take a CDMA-based Treo 650 and use it on a GSM network.

The FCC is largely to blame for this situation btw - it decided that US carriers could buy spectrum without mandating technical standards on top of this as Europe did. So the US has five mobile phone standards (analog, TDMA, CDMA, GSM and iDEN), while the rest of the world basically has one (there are GSM operators in every country in the world that has mobile phones, although in some parts of Asia and Latin America there are also TDMA and CDMA operators). Despite GSM perhaps not being technically optimal initially, it works very well overall and the result is a mass market for GSM phones and network equipment, driving down costs and improving features/performance.

CDMA as a technology is great, and the basis for UMTS, the GSM world's version of 3G, it's just the market fragmentation that's been a problem.

Re:Linux (1)

johnkzin (917611) | more than 7 years ago | (#17868724)

I seem to recall that the MyLo IS linux based.
They just haven't opened it up to other developers.
Frankly, if the MyLO had a general SIP phone capability (with or without Skype and/or Vonage), and could do a 80x24 text screen with an SSH client... I'd be all over it. (and I hate linux, so that's saying quite a bit)

Re:Linux (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17871574)

That page descripts the Motorola A910 as "A new high-end Motorola Linux phone, the A910 includes built-in WiFi, along with UMA"

Well I have just been duped into buying one of these things and it's a pile of crap.

Aside from the abysmal battery life and horrid UI, the "WiFi" component is *only* usable for UMA access. So that means that the bundled web browser and email client must be used over GPRS - no way to use them over the wifi connection.

Re:cheaper? (1)

chrwei (771689) | more than 7 years ago | (#17872196)

what makes you think these are cheaper? I've yet to see a linux based pda/smartphone that's cheaper than any comparable non-linux product. WinCE is damned cheap per license and finding vendors that are linux friendly for the chipsets is not nearly as easy. In most cases, it's a wash monetarily, and in some cases the linux devices cost more if only because the hardware chosen ends up being more robust due to it being from that linux friendy chip maker that isn't simply trying to turn out the cheapest crap they can (it costs them money to make linux drivers too).

Joke (5, Informative)

jmorris42 (1458) | more than 7 years ago | (#17867348)

First off the title of the article is "Wi-Fi phones reviewed" not Skype phones reviewed, not dual mode phones reviewed, not Vonage phones reviewed. None of the models discussed actually support any sort of generic Voip, although I think Google Talk is sorta SIP based so the Sony might qualify if it can be delinked from Google. They ignored the actual standards based WiFi VoIP phones which do exist.

Add in the fact the idiot confused 802.11a and 802.11n(draft) and you really wonder what happened to the editorial standards Dr. Dobbs used to have.

So does anyone have experience with a WiFi SIP phone that isn't a horror story? I have tried a Zyxel and a D-link and hate em both.

Re:Joke (3, Interesting)

sipmeister (615618) | more than 7 years ago | (#17868338)

Yeah, the best one I've found is the E61 from Nokia. It's a regular GSM/UMTS phone which also has WiFi and a full blown SIP client on board. And you can find it on Craigslist for ~$350.

Much better then any of the crappy Taiwanese "VoIP" phones, or anything that does Skype only.

The SIP client is fully integrated with the contacts, just overall very well done by Nokia. Plus they release firmware updates on a regular basis, which can be done from a Windows PC.

The phone detects WiFi coverage, e.g. home or work, and automatically registers the SIP client.

Since it's SIP, you can use any one of the hundreds of ITSPs (Internet Telephony Service Provider) out there to make cheap international calls, if that is what you want.

Overkill (1)

jmorris42 (1458) | more than 7 years ago | (#17869026)

> It's a regular GSM/UMTS phone which also has WiFi and a full blown SIP client on board.

Sounds nice, but overkill for my need. We binned a aging AT&T/Lucent/Avaya key system for an Asterisk PBX. The Lucent system had cordless phones that were freaking huge, generally crappy and cost a fortune. But it had them. Now our choices are:

a) a standard cordless phone with an ATA on the base station. Cheap but since you lose the extra features it is only good for a few situations.

b) a Wi-Fi SIP phone. Even $350 is less expensive than Avaya was reaming us for but we don't need a cellphone and a PDA/smartphone is so overkill it would confuse our staff so that Nokia you suggest is out. To date the two SIP phones we have tried have sucked. As in frequent crashing and really lousy battery life.

Re:Overkill (1)

Linker3000 (626634) | more than 7 years ago | (#17871558)

I am just evaluating a Siemens Gigaset C460 SIP/DECT Phone. So far so good - we have an Asterisk server in the office but I have taken the phone home and it's connected to both our regular land line and network, registered with the Asterisk server via ADSL - in fact, it's connected to my home network via a wireless bridge too!

The phone comes with a charging base and a separate base station to which the land line and network are connected. Cost £70+VAT in the UK.

http://tinyurl.com/25mwkv [tinyurl.com] (link to broadbandtuff.co.uk)

Worth a look

Neat toy (1)

jmorris42 (1458) | more than 7 years ago | (#17874728)

Nice gadget, but I don't think it will work in my situation. That one isn't Wi-Fi so would only work within the range of it's supplied base. And unless I found a US version it probably isn't using the right freqs and would not be legal in the US. Finally, it says it can transfer between its handsets but since they aren't SIP (the base is) it an open question if they could transfer to a regular SIP phone.

Great idea for the SoHo market though.

Re:Joke (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17868898)

"and you really wonder what happened to the editorial standards Dr. Dobbs used to have"

they took the same road as slashdot's

SIP phones (1)

norminator (784674) | more than 7 years ago | (#17870122)

First off the title of the article is "Wi-Fi phones reviewed" not Skype phones reviewed, not dual mode phones reviewed, not Vonage phones reviewed. None of the models discussed actually support any sort of generic Voip, although I think Google Talk is sorta SIP based so the Sony might qualify if it can be delinked from Google. They ignored the actual standards based WiFi VoIP phones which do exist.

Vonage offers the Starcom phone, but you can get that one separate from them and use it as a regular SIP client. The Mylo supports several services besides Google, so I'd guess it also would support standard SIP. I don't know anything about the rest, though.

Re:Joke (3, Insightful)

LBt1st (709520) | more than 7 years ago | (#17870264)

Also no mention of battery life, range, ease of connecting etc.. this is hardly a review. More like a PSA or something, "Hello, VoIP exists!". The "review" even says that the Skype phone has gotten good reviews. That's like a definition using the word in it's definition! Not to mention I've read nothing but bad things about this phone. Such as the battery life being nil. From my research, the bottom line is this: These are first-gen phones and they simply are not ready yet. I use Skype, and the service has been above and beyond my expectations (for personal use. Still wouldn't use it for business). I'd recommend shying away from these phones in favor of a PDA or other Windows Mobile device (if that's your existing wifi enabled cell phone then even better). PDA's and such are tried and tested hardware. They also provide other great features. If your going to shell out a few hundred on a device you might as well get a fully featured device (Dell's Axim PDA's are great for example) or a smartphone with wifi.

Joke Correction (2, Informative)

khanyisa (595216) | more than 7 years ago | (#17870286)

Google Talk is not SIP based, it uses Jabber with the (being standardised) Jingle extension for transferring the streaming audio for talking...

Security? (1)

Radon360 (951529) | more than 7 years ago | (#17867356)

Presuming that when in wi-fi mode, the phone uses VoIP. Is there any layer of security for this connection, or could one simply take a wireless card, packet sniffer and a media player to listen in on calls?

Sort of reminds me of the good old AMPS analog phone days (and 49MHz cordless home phones as well) when a scanner was all you needed to eavesdrop in on other people's calls if you were so inclined.

Re:Security? (1)

Ford Prefect (8777) | more than 7 years ago | (#17867458)

Skype data is encrypted [skype.com] , apparently: When you call another Skype user your call is encrypted with strong encryption algorithms ensuring you privacy.

Which is just as well, since my Belkin Skype phone doesn't want to talk WPA-whatever to my wireless router. Open network? Yep. :-/

utstarcom f1000 = SIP phone (1)

kirkb (158552) | more than 7 years ago | (#17867374)

Their comparison chart calls the utstarcom f1000 a "vonage" phone, but in reality it's a regular SIP phone. Works great with asterisk or any other SIP-friendly service.

Re:utstarcom f1000 = SIP phone (1)

jmorris42 (1458) | more than 7 years ago | (#17867510)

> Works great with asterisk or any other SIP-friendly service.

Do you actually have one? Does it suck? I'm still looking for a WiFi SIP phone that doesn't suck. So far Zyxel and D-Link have failed to pass muster. Both have wretched battery life, such that they can't be relied upon to spend a work day off the charger in standby. Both suffer from random lockups. I'm talking HARD take the battery out to recover lockups. The Zyxel also has the nasty problem of requiring a reboot if it loses association with the access point.

I'm looking for a phone that can:

1. Stay on standby a full 12 hours, preferrably with an hour or two of talk time.

2. Has a proven history of at least running weeks between reboots. I'm not asking for Linux inside, but daily hangs get old fast.

3. A sticker price under $200 would be nice, $300 is a deal breaker.

4. And of course it needs to be unlocked so I can program it to talk to our Asterisk server.

Re:utstarcom f1000 = SIP phone (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17868318)

the ut starcom "works" you can make calls with it and take calls with it. However the phone itself leaves alot to be desired,. its very clunky and slow and is very weak. It is much like a motorola startech or whatever from the early 90's cell phone world. it works.. thatts it.

personally I think the linksys WIP330 is much better

http://www.voipsupply.com/product_info.php?product s_id=1563 [voipsupply.com]

Re:utstarcom f1000 = SIP phone (1)

NormalVisual (565491) | more than 7 years ago | (#17870928)

I've spent the past few months working with a few different phones in an Asterisk environment. First off, I agree with your assessment of the Zyxel - the P2000W looks pretty but is dogshit when it comes to being functional. I've also worked with Ascom i75 phones, and have only a slightly higher opinion of them. Fortunately the UTStarcom phones work and they work well. They associate and register quickly, sound quality is okay, and the battery life isn't too bad. I think they'd fit your uptime requirements, as I've often left them on standby for a few days at a time, and while I don't spend much time on them, it seems they hold up pretty well on talk time. I've never had one lock up on me, and they've gotten dropped a few times with no apparent ill effect. It's also a tiny little thing that fits easily in a shirt pocket

Okay, now here's what I don't like:
  • Ping response times are ridiculously long (sometimes as long as 10 seconds), although it seems WiFi SIP phones in general are like that. You'll need to adjust your "qualify" statements in sip.conf to account for that or else you'll find Asterisk constantly loses the corresponding extension.
  • Web interface is very slow
  • Display is *way* too small, particularly if you're trying to do your SIP setup via the phone itself - you often can't even tell which parameter you're selecting because there aren't enough characters visible on the display
  • Keypad is too small, making it really easy to fat-finger stuff
  • Parts of the UI are non-intuitive/clumsy
With all of that said, I'd consider one for personal use if I was in the market for such a beast. While there's plenty I don't like about it, it's always worked and that's the fundamental thing for me.

Re:utstarcom f1000 = SIP phone (1)

NormalVisual (565491) | more than 7 years ago | (#17870942)

Lest there be any confusion, the Zyxel P2000W that I referred to in less-than-glowing terms was the newer v2 phone. :-)

BUY A MOBILE PHONE (2, Interesting)

Ford Prefect (8777) | more than 7 years ago | (#17867404)

From someone who actually owns one of these things [hylobatidae.org] , I really can't imagine how painful it would be to attempt to use one as a general-purpose telephone. It was awkward enough to get my Belkin Skype phone to talk to my wireless router - and the bastard thing crashes and restarts when I'm not looking. It's working quite well as a cordless Skype phone now, but I really wouldn't want to use it for anything remotely serious. Business contacts have not been given my SkypeIn number; that's for family and friends only.

When I go anywhere, the Skype phone stays at home, while my proper, Nokia GSM phone goes with me.

Re:BUY A MOBILE PHONE (1)

Aokubidaikon (942336) | more than 7 years ago | (#17867850)

These things are not replacements, they compliment your mobile phone.
Unless you like paying for mobile calls at places where you could be making calls for free that is.

Re:BUY A MOBILE PHONE (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17867926)

I use the chat-cord http://www.chat-cord.com/ [chat-cord.com] to hook up any cordless phone. It is much cheaper then paying for one that skype sells. I also found a really cool tool for receiving cellphone SMS text messages when trying to get those items that go quickly on craigslist http://admin.clbuddy.googlepages.com/home [googlepages.com]

Re:BUY A MOBILE PHONE (1)

Bearhouse (1034238) | more than 7 years ago | (#17872008)

You're right, of course. Skype seems to work best PC to PC. However, I have used it very succesfully, including over Wifi at airports and stuff. Skypein is useful for my clients in different countries - they don't need to know where I am - they just dial a local number (for them), and - presto - my PC rings. If I'm offline, then call diects to regular GSM. Best of both worlds.

nokia n770/800 (2, Informative)

ihatethetv (935399) | more than 7 years ago | (#17867490)

It's a shame they left out nokia's internet tablet. The 800 is supposed to ship with google talk, and its wide-open linux so it's possible to add other clients as well.

Re:nokia n770/800 (1)

elgaard (81259) | more than 7 years ago | (#17869322)

I have a Nokia 770.
Gizmo (http://www.gizmoproject.com/) works fine on it which means that the microhone and speaskers will do.
I plan to geat a real SIP-phone on it (preferably Twinkle)
so I can use other PSTN than SipPhone.

I have a Zyxel P2000W. The main attraction of a SIP-phone on the 770 (apart from carriens one thing
less) is that the 770 have a prowser that can be used to accept stupid disclaimers that cafe and hotels put up.
It feels very stupid when the Zyxel phone is not working because it cannot press the "ok" or "promise not to send spam" button.

Nokia E70 (2, Informative)

Greyfox (87712) | more than 7 years ago | (#17867512)

I bought a Nokia E70 [nokia.com] a while back. It's not particularly easy to get ahold of one of these things in the USA but it's the first phone I found that does everything I want it to. It's a regular cellphone (Takes my T-Mobile SIM card just fine) but it also has wifi and a SIP client on it. When I wander in-range of my wireless network at home it detects it and registers as a SIP client on my asterisk server. Incoming landline calls hit the asterisk server and then can ring through to my handset.

Overall it's a great little phone and I don't have to keep track of which handset I need to be using. Now if only I could get my company to adopt asterisk and wireless...

Does it run a user programable OS? (1)

MacDork (560499) | more than 7 years ago | (#17868072)

And I'm not talking Java MIDP. I want a phone, I want wi-fi on it, and I want to write native apps for it. No such thing exists or has even been announced to my knowledge.

Re:Does it run a user programable OS? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17868582)

Then you've had your head up your arse for several years at least.

The OS is called Symbian, and yes you can write your own apps for it! I'm sure the same goes for the latest window's mobile...

Re:Does it run a user programable OS? (1)

MacDork (560499) | more than 7 years ago | (#17868630)

Thanks AC. Yes, my head has been way up there regarding mobile phones. I've only gotten one of them in the past year and was highly disappointed that my Linux phone was off limits for developing native apps.

Re:Does it run a user programable OS? (1)

squiggleslash (241428) | more than 7 years ago | (#17872264)

There's been cellphones for decades that are programmable in an unrestricted fashion. I bought my Nokia 9000 back in 1997, well after it came out, and that ran GEOS and came with a full SDK. A significant number of modern Nokias run Symbian and every few months there's an announcement of something that runs Linux, Windows CE (or whatever they call it these days), PalmOS, and others.

The key thing is, stay out of the markets where "proprietary" is considered a feature by the operator (IS-95/CDMA2000 in particular) and stick with open systems like GSM (and UMTS.) You'll find that there are huge numbers of phones out there for pretty much every type of user, and yes, geeks are a market. It may be too small for the operators to care, but the manufacturers produce phones for 'em anyway, and all you have to do is buy the phone and insert the SIM card to get running.

Yes (1)

Puh (96627) | more than 7 years ago | (#17874104)

It's running Symbian so yes, you can write apps for it (c++:ish, That is to say, C++ with some special quirks).
Symbian has existed since 1998 and is probably the most used operating system in smart phones.
Then there is the open source Python interpreter by Nokia that is getting on quite nicely. Not native apps of course, but much more to my liking than Java. http://opensource.nokia.com/projects/pythonfors60/ [nokia.com] There is still some subsystem support and standard libraries missing, but it is already useable. And running the Raccoon (Apache port for Symbian) with mod_python in that thing is really an eye-opener. http://research.nokia.com/research/projects/mobile -web-server/ [nokia.com]

Re:Does it run a user programable OS? (1)

Greyfox (87712) | more than 7 years ago | (#17876052)

Can't you compile or cross compile with Symbian phones? You can get a python interpreter for it and they're working on a Ruby one. I suppose they could be writing those in Java. I haven't looked into development too extensively since the phone already does everything that I want it to.

Re:Nokia E70 (1)

commodoresloat (172735) | more than 7 years ago | (#17869044)

Now if only I could get my company to adopt asterisk and wireless...
Wow -- your company hasn't even adopted the asterisk yet? What do they use for bulleted lists? Or is it numbers only....

Re:Nokia E70 (1)

glomph (2644) | more than 7 years ago | (#17871622)

I have one of these and I love it. It is still a bit temperamental(yes, I've done the firmware upgrades), but is much better when you learn exactly how to configure it. Using it just as you are, having it connect to my Asterisk boxes. For calls -to- the phone I ring both the SIP entity and the standard cell phone number, with a 10 delay on the latter, so that the call does not immediately drop into voicemail should I be in a bad-mobile-signal area (which in the US is all over the place).

Like most Asterisk/VoIP junkies I detest communications-roach-motels like Skype and Vonage. Between Asterisk, a good end-device like the E70, and the numerous SIP/IAX providers, you can cut the cord from the old POTS system, AND not get sodomized by the mobile guys, either. And the E70 does more than the Steve Jobs vaporphone that has the Fluffy Bunnies all goopy. 802.11 being switched on does not affect standby battery life, that I can detect. 802.11 calling chows on the battery a bit more than normal mobile calling. GPRS/UTMS data usage just DEVOURS the battery, as usual.

Nokia E60 - WiFi + SIP (4, Informative)

Renesis (646465) | more than 7 years ago | (#17867538)

I've been using VOIP (SIP) at home for a few years now. From the UK I call my girlfriend on her landline in the USA for almost nothing.

I've used lots of different phones and adapters. I don't generally use any "softphones" (VOIP applications that require a PC), nor any of the phones that require your PC to be on.

The absolute best voice quality, and ease-of-use is the Nokia E60 I recently bought. It was about US$300 from eBay (SIM free - i.e. generic, not locked to any network). It's standards-compliant (802.11 + SIP) and connects to both of my current VOIP providers (Sipgate [sipgate.co.uk] and VoipBuster [voipbuster.com] ) without trouble.

Whenever I get home (within range of my access point) it instantly registers with my VOIP provider of choice as well as staying connected to the cell network via 3G/GSM. Whenever I click a contact to make a call it simply asks whether I want to call by "Cell" or "Internet" - and that decides how the call is routed. Incoming calls on SIP and cell work great - so you can have more than one number on your phone at the same time.

The voice quality is superb and it is so totally easy-to-use once configured (configuration is slow when you have to type all the server names on a numeric pad). The only downsides are that I only get about 2 hours of talk time over WiFi (after that I have to plug in the charger to keep talking), and that there is no built-in camera.

There is a review here: http://www.allaboutsymbian.com/features/item/Nokia _E60_Preview_The_Candybar_With_Almost_Everything.p hp [allaboutsymbian.com]

It's very stable and reliable, unlike it's N-Series brothers which are a POS. I can highly recommend the phone.

Re:Nokia E60 - WiFi (1)

Judge_Fire (411911) | more than 7 years ago | (#17871306)

Just to add a thumbs up regarding Wi-Fi in the e-series (I have an e70), though I don't do VOIP; I prefer text:

the Apple WebKit based web browser [nokia.com] is pretty neat, supporting JavaScript and CSS. It's not as fluid as the iPhone demos, of course, but then again it is on sale ;) . Also, always on IM (MSN/AIM/Yahoo/ICQ) is well covered by Agile Messenger [agilemobile.com] .

For text based stuff I find the e70 display (352x416) nicer than the e60 (320x240, but larger).

Yuck. (1)

DogDude (805747) | more than 7 years ago | (#17867736)

Wi-Fi is unreliable enough with regular PC connections. I can't imagine what a headache it would be to try to make a phone call via Wi-Fi. Ugh. It must be like sucking glue through a straw.

Re:Yuck. (1)

Oshawapilot (1039614) | more than 7 years ago | (#17868222)

I've used my residential VoIP gateway through a WiFi connection (using my Mac as a Wifi to CAT5 gateway, at that) and it worked just fine. I could pull up and park wherever there was WiFi and sit in my car and make calls as if I was sitting at home. It was a bit unwieldy given I was using a hardware based VoIP box that usually resides on my computer desk at home, but it worked.

mucho problems (0, Troll)

DaMattster (977781) | more than 7 years ago | (#17867806)

I also don't feel like advertising my connection to everyone in the neighborhood. Might as well throw security out the door. What happens if someone "borrows" your connection to spew out some spam or do some illicit things? It won't be my ass on the line. Criminals seek out anonymity and this system provides ample amounts

Re:mucho problems (2, Interesting)

geekoid (135745) | more than 7 years ago | (#17868016)

So do billboards, cash, and a great many things. Are we really at a point where anonimity automatically equals bad?

I seek anonimity from time to time, and I'm not a criminal.

T-Mobile UMA Works! (5, Interesting)

imcdona (806563) | more than 7 years ago | (#17867844)

First off, the article is flat wrong, I can use my Nokia 6136 on ANY WiFI I want. I am not limited to just t-mobile hotspots. I roam all over the country and latch on to different WiFi networks without a problem. The SSID "linksys" is my friend. I get unlimited WiFi calls and it seamlessly switches to GSM when I leave the WiFi area. One thing nice is, if I start a call on WiFi and roam to GSM, it's still billed as a WiFi call.

Re:T-Mobile UMA Works! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17869440)

T-Mobile. It ... works.

Skype with my sony mylo works great! (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17867918)

I've never been happier with a phone -- although you are too late to get a free year of T-Mobile along with a Mylo purchase. Sometimes the wi-fi is too slow at schools or other free places to use Skype, but at home or at Starbucks it works great.

Samsung SCH i730 (3, Informative)

ArmedLemming (18042) | more than 7 years ago | (#17868092)

Although it's abit pricier [vzw.com] than the models listed in TFA ($199 with 2-year contract), it does everything those phones do and more. Since it runs Windows Mobile 2003 (or later), it can run Skype to make the calls, it has WiFi built-in, and of course does EV-DO. Add in its bluetooth support and basically this thing does it everything you need (except run Linux I guess)

The downside to this model is its relatively short battery life, but it's even got a slide out qwerty keypad so texting isn't half bad...

Here's a link [samsung.com] to it...

Why you don't need WiFi on your phone. (3, Interesting)

Freedom Bug (86180) | more than 7 years ago | (#17868246)

I blogged about this recently. http://bryan.larsen.st/2007/2/3/why-you-don-t-need -wifi-on-your-phone. [larsen.st]

I own a Sharp Zaurus and a Palm Treo 650 along with a WiFi card for both. I never use WiFi. Here's why.

There are several scenarios where you think it'll be useful to have WiFi on your phone, either for e-mail, browsing or VoIP.

At Home or Work

Once the novelty wears off, you will realize that the computer in the corner is much better suited for internet and e-mail usage. If you want to curl up on the couch or wander the house doing chores while talking to your Mom via VoIP, add a $20 bluetooth dongle onto your computer, router or NSLU2 and use that instead; you'll double your battery life.

At a Friend's House

Most friends have computers they'll let you borrow. Extensive surfing or VoIP'ing is antisocial, you won't be taking advantage of that as much as you think you will.

Out on the street

By the time you find a free, open WiFi hotspot, your battery will be dead. GPRS is so much more reliable that once you hook it up, you'll just end up using that instead.

On vacation

I spent two months in Europe and blogged every day for the entire trip using my Treo 650 and a bluetooth keyboard. I brought along the WiFi adaptor and never used it because it was such a pain to find and connect to a hot spot. Instead, I transferred articles from the Treo to computers in Internet Cafe's via the SD card and a USB adaptor. At a coffeeshop to work outside the office

A laptop is so much more usable that you'll end up lugging the heavy thing to the coffeeshop rather than taking along just your phone.

Summary

WiFi is nice to have, but it shouldn't significantly affect purchase decisions. Don't ignore beautiful phones like the Neo1973 or Treos just because they don't have WiFi.

Re:Why you don't need WiFi on your phone. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17871410)

i have to agree.. i bought an nokia e61 a while ago , in order to use the built in wifi whenever possible. Instead i find myself setting the phone to always use gprs , for the email and browser apps , because as you said its completely reliable. Even when i am at a friends house , where I've entered the wifi settings beforehand , i just save myself the additional key presses to switch the network and just use gprs. An exception would be if i need to download a podcast while am on the road, but this is realy rare. A once established gprs connection survives the whole day even when there are long periods without coverage , eg. some buildings. Maybe this all could change if there was an super intelligent smart roaming solution selecting transparently the best network but something like that is not trivial , and wont be done via 3rd party extensions ( tried some already , they aren't reliable ) IMHO all in all , wifi on symbian phones is a nice addition but hardly a necessity .

Re:Why you don't need WiFi on your phone. (1)

squiggleslash (241428) | more than 7 years ago | (#17872296)

There is a use for WiFi on your phone, which is to support the new UMA (also known as GAN) system for GSM. This is "GSM over the Internet" and effectively turns any AP into a pseudo-GSM tower. Walk out of range of the AP, and the GSM network picks up, even if you're mid-call (so no call drops.)

What's the advantage? Well, aside from the fact some operators, notably T-Mobile in certain parts of the US, are promoting flat rate (as in $20/month, no airtime charges for Wifi calls) service with UMA, there's also the fact that you no longer have to care about whether the kitchen, bathroom, closet, or whereever else you plan to use the phone, has coverage from your favourite (ha) GSM carrier. Calls are always high quality (GSM operators with capacity problems frequenty use something called "half rate", HR or AMR-HR, to double their capacity, at the expense of call quality - but if you're on UMA, there's no need), you can build coverage where your operator can't, so in general you're a lot better off.

The problem, right now, is that most phones with Wifi don't support UMA yet, and most networks are in the process of evaluating UMA rather than implementing it. But I expect this situation to change within the year.

VOIP is forcing competition (2, Insightful)

troll -1 (956834) | more than 7 years ago | (#17868268)

traditional cell carriers are launching dual-mode phones and services that run over the cellular networks, but switch to cheaper (for carriers), faster (for customers) Wi-Fi networks when one is available.

It would be nice if carriers just sold mobile IP addresses and let consumers choose their own devices, services, etc.. Many of us would think it odd if we bought our computer from our ISP and it didn't work with other ISPs, yet this is the norm for cell phone companies. Your ISP mostly doesn't know/care whether you use your network for data or voice, but with cell phone companies every protocol, text messaging, email, voice, Internet, etc. is a separately billable service. From a administrative point of view this is just dumb.

Perhaps, finally, cell phone companies are leaving the old 20th century telco-mindset behind and becoming part of the Internet.

Re:VOIP is forcing competition (1)

squiggleslash (241428) | more than 7 years ago | (#17872322)

It's called 4G and that's exactly what they're planning to do, except they will offer a bundled telephony service because nobody really wants to have to deal with three different companies to get phone service. That doesn't mean you have to use it, obviously.

The UMTS system is being upgraded via something called the Long Term Evolution [wikipedia.org] project. You'll get a 100Mbps (shared, obviously) internet connection, and the high level protocols will essentially be an evolved IMS. CDMA2000's equivalent is something called UMB. In UMTS's case, if you roam onto Wifi or WiMax, and you're using IMS, the roaming will be seamless,

So, yes, they "get it". They just need time to standardize the technology, make it good enough, and roll it out.

IMAGINE (4, Interesting)

viking80 (697716) | more than 7 years ago | (#17868312)

Imagine that most people turn on a wifi (Like the free Fon mentioned)
Now, just enable these to connect and route traffic automatically
Now,
1. Everybody can now have a wifi phone with free
2. Nobody will need an ISP
3. Nobody will need a phone company
4. Nobody can shut you off
5. Everyone can have a fast connection
6. You do not have to sign a service agreement
7. what else?

Re: IMAGINE (1)

F34nor (321515) | more than 7 years ago | (#17881614)

Close but not quite. You still need a phone company. Never POTS is a utility, Wifi is not even close to being a utility. 911 calls are a good thing to have on a battery backedup physical network. Also you need the ISP for the people to provide their own cloud. To get rid of the ISP you need to run fiber over the fence to your neighbor over and over again till you have your own broadband physical network with a cloud floating over the top of it, meshed hopefully.

wifi is important for some (2, Interesting)

Danzigism (881294) | more than 7 years ago | (#17868350)

A few months ago I purchased the Audiovox XV6700 through Verizon.. Its a damn amazing phone and I'm very glad to have bought it.. I personally use the Wifi capabilities to sync up with the exchange server at work.. even when I'm home, I have a little crappy belkin wireless router and it's great when I need to sync up my appointments and email before I leave for work.. plus, i think it's a good way to experience a free way of using the Internet on a cell phone without paying those ridiculous data plans.. it'll probably soon become standard just as the camera did..

Re:wifi is important for some (1)

sid crimson (46823) | more than 7 years ago | (#17868680)

I have the Sprnt version of your phone... the PPC-6700.
I agree it's an amazing phone... aside from a relatively short battery life and being a teensy bit larger than I would like... it's dang near perfect.
I chose Sprint because their data plans are cheaper -- $15/mo instead of Verizon's $40+ for unlimited data.

-sid

Canadians are awaiting... (1)

Oshawapilot (1039614) | more than 7 years ago | (#17868374)

I look forward to the day where blanket WiFi reaches most Canadian cities and WiFi devices like this can compete on a level playing field (for both data and voice) with the monopolistic cellphone carriers.

Cellular data is so ridiculously overpriced in Canada ($100 for 200 megs!), so finally having to compete with cheap WiFi handsets will be one hell of a wakeup call to the cellular industry here.

I look forward to the day that I can call my cellphone carrier and tell them to get stuffed because there's now a WiFi based solution that will do the same for a fraction of the cost. Bring it on.

What I want (2, Interesting)

johnkzin (917611) | more than 7 years ago | (#17868932)

HP predicted that in 12 or so years, we'll have watches that act as a communications gateway. The watch is the cellular/wifi router, and your various personal devices (handset, ear piece, PDA, laptop, camera, etc.) will connect to your watch via Wifi or Bluetooth. (so, you'll have an external (watch->hotspot) Wifi network, and an internal (device->watch) Wifi network).

So, your handset becomes just a bluetooth device that can tell the watch what # to dial, whether to use the cellular network to make the call, or a SIP/VOIP interface via IP (the cellular IP capabilities or via the local Wifi hotspot if one is available), and then also acts as your bluetooth speaker and microphone. The watch itself might have a simple UI for making calls, and then a "screen saver" that might make it look like a watch (analog, digital, xearth faces would be cool ... one of the xearth clones that uses actual earth images instead of flat green and blue). Combine that with Seagate's new bluetooth hard drive, Sony's stereo bluetooth headset, and you have a distributed network of specialized devices that implement all of these functions instead of a monolithic device (ie. lets embrace the unix philosophy here!).

The thing is: I don't think we need to wait 12 years. I don't think it would take too much to add to a Trolltech Qtopia Green Phone to make it usable as such a device. The complication is: making it smaller (take off the keypad, clearly), and where do you put the antenna?

I think a basic antenna could go in the watchband, but you could also have various external antenna ideas that depend on how "geek chique" you want to be. Perhaps an extended "watchband" that goes up over the back of your hand, adding a keypad and antenna extension inside of the extra area. Or a "gauntlet" type watchband that has antennas in it, a keypad, and maybe pouches for extra batteries and other accessories like the bluetooth hard drives. That gives you basic connectivity with the "normal" watchband, and then better connectivity depending on how "out of the ordinary" you want to look. Or you could have slightly more stealthy extensions like the ipod jacket that puts wires into the fabric of the jacket, so your antenna is somewhere in your jacket, and your accessory pouches are in the jacket pockets ... you'd just need a wire to go from your sleeve to the expansion port on the watch. Then you could have jackets in multiple styles (windbreaker, blazer, etc.)

But, if you remove the area on the green phone where the keypad is, are you left with enough physical space for the rest of the device? I don't know. I think it would be worth looking into. I know that you can already eliminate the area of the phone's board that makes up the camera, and probably some of what implements the storage space and external storage card. All of that gets moved to other devices.

(Note: a company in australia already does make a cell phone watch, but it's a flip-phone kinda thing.. and I don't think it acts as much of a gateway for other devices. And, another company makes a watch that can act as a bluetooth device will tell you who is calling, and I think allow you to make/accept calls by telling your phone what to do, so the "bluetooth handset" isn't much of an extrapolation, for those who really want to have a handset.)

That's the communication device I want. The watch cellular/wifi gateway. Sony's MyLO could already make use of it, along with other Wifi/SIP phones.

Sony? (1)

r00t (33219) | more than 7 years ago | (#17868936)

Is there some other Sony, maybe not the famous one?

The Sony I know does not play nice with protocols, file formats, or even CD audio standards.

If the mylo is in there... (2, Interesting)

Cerebus (10185) | more than 7 years ago | (#17869240)

Why isn't the Nokia N800 [nokiausa.com] ?

Re:If the mylo is in there... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17869960)

I know, why isn't the N800 a totally killer Wifi phone ? Nice big screen, good for browsing, should be Wifi capable. Its an open platform. $300, right ? Beats an iPhone all to heck.

Re:If the mylo is in there... (1)

clonmult (586283) | more than 7 years ago | (#17874002)

Or the N80, which is probably the most popular GSM/3G/WiFi phone on the market.

I'm waiting for an open wifi phone forever ! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17870006)

I want a nice, open wifi/VOIP phone. I don't know why they aren't on the market.

I want VOIP ! I don't want to have a big plan bill every month. 80% of the time I am within range of a wireless router.

I want data connectivity ! I can't live more than 20 feet from a computer tied to the Internet ! I get like 50 emails a day. I'm tired of being tied to my desk waiting for emails. And no, I won't get a ridiculous Blackberry. The plans for those things are ridiculous !

I want it open ! Preferably it should run Linux so a bunch of hackers can hack it and make it into a super phone. I want my phone list and some sort of expense tracking software on it. It should have a camera and integrate with my office voice and email. When people leave a voicemail, I want it to show up as an email in my inbox.

The phones we have now are only half of what they need to be.
   

Why exclude the relevant standard models? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17871926)

Having looked for this functionality before, I checked the comparison - and found a handful of devices all running proprietary protocols.
Why does this article ignore phones such as the Nokia E70, which does SIP over wi-fi?

They don't live up to the promise... (1)

stephend (1735) | more than 7 years ago | (#17871972)

The headline for the Dobbs article is "Wi-Fi Phone Buyer's Guide" which, for something that discusses the technology and its advantages and disadvantages, is about right. It doesn't really review the phones though. You could pretty much write the article without ever having touched one! And, unfortunately, that's a very big difference. As far as I know they're all very much Version 1.0 products with some pretty serious problems.

I liked the concept and bought a Belkin Wi-Fi Phone [zx81.org.uk] , but ultimately I was pretty disappointed. It's currently back with Belkin being replaced.

About a ZRTP phone. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17872016)

Do you know any ZRTP wi-fi phone out there?

Echo cancellation (1)

thrill12 (711899) | more than 7 years ago | (#17872112)

I remember reading a review on the SMC skype phone [smc.com] (which surprisingly wasn't reviewed here !). It is about the same price as the other Skype phones ($150 dollars) but the main objection against it was that it doesn't have echo cancellation [wikipedia.org] aboard. This will definitely make you hear quality difference between a GSM and this Skype phone. I guess the time-to-market is now more important for a lot of companies than the actual quality of the set.
It is feature-complete, but wifi+skype client is not enough to make a consumer-friendly product imho.

Best option: wait a little while before you buy one.

Off topic but.... (1)

blankoboy (719577) | more than 7 years ago | (#17873082)

when will a company come to it's senses and release a home Skype device that non techies (my folks) can just plug into their home broadband routers? Wi-Fi Skype enabled phones are ok for some folks on the move but there is a huge untapped market of people who would like this type of connectivity at home.

Ideal would be a Skype base station with integrated camera and screen (or using the TV like D-link's device) for non-techies to use.

bunch of nonsense (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17877096)

i have a UT Starcom F1000. it can be programmed to work with any SIP provider, unless you bought your model from Vonage (in which case there's a firmware hack). it's also not the newest model from UT Starcom- the F3000 looks pretty cool (the '1000 style could at best be described as 'retro'. amber backlight, eek!). the F1000 works great at home, at school, at work and at friend's houses, and anywhere else there's an under-utilized, stable, open AP. it works very, very poorly on my city's public Wifi node. at coffeeshops it just depends on how much bandwidth is available. it really sucks at roaming from one AP to the next without dropping calls, the new version is supposed to be better at this.

it's not an adequate cell replacement by itself- i've definitely had moments of running around some neighborhood, needing to make an urgent call, pressing the 'search' key & war... dialing (hehe, sort of)? like a maniac. that said, i do use it as my primary voice communication tool, and it's the number I give everyone (the same VOIP account that's been my primary phone number for three years). i carry a prepaid cell on long or remote trips, and the VOIP account sends a text msg to that phone whenever i have voicemail on the main line.

all together, my monthly phone bill is just under $20 including plenty of long personal and business calls, domestic and international, placed from home/school/work & on the road. no complaints.
Check for New Comments
Slashdot Account

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

Don't worry, we never post anything without your permission.

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>
Sign up for Slashdot Newsletters
Create a Slashdot Account

Loading...