Forget AT&T and the like. The only phone company you need is Skype, which routes your calls over the Internet and, as of May 15, 2006, costs nothing for outgoing calls made by users in the U.S. and Canada. And now you can almost forget your cellphone provider too-with this new Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) gear, you can make calls using Skype (or Vonage, another VoIP provider) from just about anywhere. No computer or dorky headset required.
Will the availability of free VoIP, teamed with the convenience of Wi-Fi handsets, spell trouble for the major phone companies? Discuss this, as well as Skype’s move to free service, on the PopSci Blog.
**Netgear Skype Wi-Fi Phone
$250; netgear.com [pictured above]
Power up the phone on any wireless network, enter your Skype username and password, and your Skype contacts will populate the handset´s color LCD screen. Call them instantly or phone outside numbers-either way, it’s free.
Size: 4.3 x 1.8 x
Weight: 3.8 oz.
Battery life: 3 hours talk;
50 hours standby
Vonage UTStarcom F1000 Wi-Fi Handset
Find a hotspot and turn on the F1000, and you can make unlimited calls to the U.S. or Canada for $25 a month. The Vonage handset acts a lot like a good cell-phone; it´s got three-way calling, call waiting-even ring tones.
Size: 4.2 x 1.7 x
Weight: 3.5 oz.
Battery life: 5 hours talk;
50 hours standby
**Actiontec VoSky Call Center
**This router lets you access your Skype account remotely from any phone in the world, so you can make cheap calls away from home. Just hook up the box to your landline and your Internet-enabled PC, and anytime you call your home number, you´ll be connected to the Call Center. Follow voice prompts to log into your Skype account, and dial away
Size: 4.5 x 3.4 x 1 in.
Weight: 5.1 oz.
System requirements: PC running Windows 2000 or XP; analog telephone and number; Internet connection
Discuss these hot new Wi-Fi phones and free Skype on the PopSci Blog.