“The Skype DUALphone 3088 offers a significant bonus in that it doubles as a landline.”
- Great call quality; supports Skype & landlines; good cordless range; rechargeable batteries
- Not pretty to look at; website and support forums lacking; somewhat expensive
With Voice over IP (VoIP) being such an omnipresent force in modern communication technology, more and more people are switching from exclusive use of landlines and cell phones to VoIP services like Skype. In years past, Skype users were mostly geeky types (myself included) who were comfortable using a headset and boom microphone tethered to a computer. A high percentage of those now migrating to Skype are accustomed to standard telephones, whether corded or cordless, and they need the sense of security and normalcy that a familiar handset provides. Enter the Skype DUALphone 3088 manufactured by RTX Products A/S – the first phone that doesn’t require a computer for use on the Skype network.
The $158 USD Skype DUALphone 3088 gains props for being the first of its kind, but does it continue to command respect as a high quality, easy-to-use, and reliable phone? Read the following review to find out.
Features & Design
The Skype DUALphone 3088 resembles any of a hundred cordless handsets on the market. The handset itself looks minimalist, yet functional – reminiscent of something Phillips or VTech might produce. It has the ubiquitous green and red phone icons for dialing/answering and hanging up. The red button doubles as the power button, just like most modern cell phones. The charging dock and wireless transceiver are both matte black and chiseled in appearance.
Under its plain exterior, the Skype DUALphone 3088 offers a unique combination of latest-tech VoIP service and the reliability of 20th-century landline technology. If your broadband connection ever goes down due to a technical problem, the DUALphone system will quickly connect to standard telephone services using an RJ-11 jack.
Although the Skype DUALphone 3088 is easy to set up and use, folks who are gadget-phobic may want to read the manual to get a grasp on the handset buttons and related functions. For the geekier crowd, figuring out the buttons and functions is a snap.
The color screen is a nice addition to the DUALphone 3088. It’s surprising that many modern phones (even VoIP handsets) still come with monochrome screens. Thankfully, RTX was generous with its design budget and didn’t skimp on this aesthetic feature.
One drawback that I discovered early on is that the included manual is way too brief. It really only covers the basic setup and use of the phone. More detailed information and almost all troubleshooting tips have to be found on the DUALphone website. The unimpressive organization of the website and the awful, awful support forums add to the frustration. RTX could probably make dramatic sales increases and gain many more loyal customers if they could just improve their website. That said, the DUALphone 3088 survives on its own good merits.
The DUALphone 3088 Phone
Setup & Use
Setting up the Skype DUALphone 3088 is fast and easy. Upon opening the product packaging, I found quite a bit more hardware than I was expecting. The Skype phone itself was at the top of the packaging. Under the first layer of packaging are the phone’s charging dock and respective power cable, an RJ-11 (phone) cord for landline use, the wireless transceiver and power cable, a LAN cable for connecting the transceiver to a broadband router, two rechargeable batteries for the handset, and several power adapters for use in foreign countries.
After setting the contents out on my table, I plugged the Skype phone’s charging dock into a wall outlet, added the rechargeable batteries to the handset, and set it on the dock for charging. Next, I plugged the wireless transceiver into the wall outlet and then connected the LAN cable from the transceiver to my AirPort Extreme router. When the unit powered up and connected to the internet, a red LED light shone solid on the front of the transceiver. I thought there was something wrong, so I checked the manual. In the case of the Skype DUALphone 3088, red does not equal trouble… a red solid light means that the transceiver is working properly and is connected to both the internet and the wireless handset.
With the hardware set up and the handset fully charged, I turned the handset on. Since the Skype DUALphone 3088 uses your Skype account to send and receive calls, it is necessary to set up your account on the handset itself. The setup is easy: select default language for the user interface and select your country, your country code (USA is +1), and the area code in which you’re located. Then, enter your Skype user ID and password using the keypad, and decide whether to have the Skype phone remember your user ID and password or to require this entry each time you turn the phone on. I chose to have the Skype DUALphone 3088 remember my account information.
Once the handset is set up with your Skype account information, it connects itself to Skype’s servers and retrieves your account balance and your contacts list. Anytime you add a Skype contact on your computer, the Skype DUALphone 3088 will retrieve the contact and add it to the list. Anytime you add a contact directly into the Skype DUALphone 3088, it transmits this data so your Skype contacts list on your computer is also updated.
As any Skype user knows, audio quality for Skype calls is largely dependent on the type and speed of internet connection being used. Slower DSL lines and shared connections (hotspots, public WiFi, lower-end internet providers) will often degrade call clarity and reliability. The Skype DUALphone 3088 handles calls as good as or better than any other Skype-compatible headset or microphone combo I’ve ever tried. In numerous calls to Skype users and landlines, calls sounded perfectly clear, as if I was using a dedicated landline or cell phone. I did experience a very slight delay (about 1/4 second) in incoming and outgoing audio as compared to a dedicated land line, but this is not unusual with VoIP services.
Skype software for computers offers Instant Messaging (chat), video conferencing, and file transfers. The Skype DUALphone 3088 only works for incoming and outgoing calls.
When the Skype DUALphone 3088 is used as a landline, the calls are as good as any other cordless phone.
Cordless range may vary based on site conditions, but the average indoor range is about 160 feet, and outdoor range is approximately 980 feet. That’s pretty good!
While Skype may not be the perfect solution for everyone, millions of users absolutely swear by it. When using Skype, it is necessary to have a reliable, comfortable device to use as the physical medium between VoIP and your ears. Many people use geeky-looking headsets (some by choice, many for lack of something better). Personally, I like the physical sensation of using a phone; it frees me from being tied to my desk by a corded headset, and it’s a little less invasive than an in-ear Bluetooth headset. For those like me, the Skype DUALphone 3088 is a perfect solution. It’s a simple, minimalist phone that performs all the free-calling functions of any Skype device, yet it has much greater range than Bluetooth headsets – another bonus for those who prefer to pace and roam while they talk.
The Skype DUALphone 3088 offers a significant bonus in that it doubles as a landline. 911 calls can be made using this phone, as long as you have an active landline connected to the phone. Incoming calls are generally free for landline users, so the Skype DUALphone 3088 could allow a penny-pincher to take incoming calls by landline and use Skype for all outgoing calls (perfect for folks on a budget or for those who want to stick it to the mega-conglomerate telco providers).
The Skype DUALphone 3088 seems like a well-built and reliable phone. I’m happy using mine, and I would recommend it to others in the market for such a device.
• Great call quality
• Uses Skype AND landline connections
• Excellent cordless range
• Rechargeable batteries included
• Slightly minimalist; not pretty
• Product website and support forums severely lacking
• $158 price range is a little high