Linksys Calls Phones via Yahoo Messenger

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Most of the buzz in the VOIP-handset world has been about Skype-enabled handsets, whether USB-based corded models that pop into a computer or stand-alone units which behave much like normal phones, but enable users to place low-cost VOIP calls.

Internet titan Yahoo isn’t content to let Skype get away with all that action, so it has partnered with Cisco-owned Linksys to product the LinkSys CIT310, which is officially dubbed the Dual-Mode Cordless Phone for Yahoo Messenger with Voice.

"The CIT310 is our first product to couple the Yahoo Messenger with Voice experience and access to Internet services like Yahoo! Local Search," said Tarun Loomba, Linksys’ senior director of product marketing, in a statement. "We share the same vision with Yahoo of not just improving the experience of internet phone calling, but also offering a valuable combination of internet-enabled features and services that customers will use and really want."

The phone offers a USB base station, so it can be used for computer-to-computer calling while enabling the user to move wirelessly away from the computer. The phone enables users to make Internet-based calls to members of their Yahoo Messenger Contact List, while users subscribing to Yahoo Phone Out—which lets Yahoo Messenger place calls to standard telephones—can use the handset to place low-cost calls to any traditional or mobile phone. Users can also search for local business information via Yahoo Local Search directly from the phone; just program the phone with a local ZIP code, and the phone can retrieve the names and numbers of local restaurants and other businesses. The search feature also enables users to see two-day weather forecasts. The handset also offers a color display, call waiting for both standard and VOIP calls, Caller ID support, a headset jack, USB base station, and 10 hours of talk time on its rechargeable battery.

The CIT310 phone has a suggested street price of $99.99, and is available now through Amazon.com; it will hit other retailers later this month.

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