Broadcom PC-less Skype Wi-Fi phone

Tom Keating : VoIP & Gadgets Blog
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Broadcom PC-less Skype Wi-Fi phone

Broadcom today announced that the Broadcom Wi-Fi phone now supports Skype software. Similar to other Pc-less Skype phones, you will be able to scroll through your contacts, see presence info, make free Skype-to-Skype calls, as well as SkypeIn and SkypeOut support if you paid for these optional services. The beauty of this WiFi Skype phone is of course you don't have to be tethered to your PC, nor does this Skype phone have to communicate with a base station connected (via USB) to a PC running Skype.

The handset features include a high-resolution color display, speakerphone and Buffalo’s AOSS easy configuration protocol. The Buffalo Wi-Fi phone will be Skype Certified and available for the Japanese market in November 2006. The handset comes with everything built-in to connect to Skype via any personal, business or free public Wi-Fi access point that does not require browser authentication. Why don't they build in a simple browser so you can authenticate on hotspots that require web-based authentication? Ok, so it adds a few cents/dollars to the cost, so what? Ok, maybe licensing an operating system that can run a mini-browser is more expensive than I realize, but seriously... How bout embedded Linux? That I assume is practically free. And flash memory is pretty cheap these days too, so they should be able to fit a browser application plus the underlying OS to support it.

In any event, Broadcom’s Wi-Fi phone reference design consists of the BCM1161 mobile VoIP processor and BCM4318E AirForce One 54g chip. The BCM1161 integrates an ARM9 CPU, an analog voice codec with a direct microphone and high-output speaker interface, a 2 megapixel camera interface, a 262k color LCD display interface, a polyphonic ringer and USB interface into a single-chip solution. Broadcom claims that the BCM4318E is Broadcom’s smallest and most cost-effective 54g client solution, integrating a high-performance 2.4 GHz radio, IEEE 802.11a/b/g baseband processor, medium access controller (MAC) and other components onto a single chip.

Since Broadcom typically creates chip reference designs and then manufacturers take the chip reference designs and build the final end-user product, it's unclear from this news if Broadcom is creating the final end-user Skype phone product. I emailed my contacts at Broadcom for clarification and I asked for a photo. I will update this post when I find out more.

Update:

Tom: Since Broadcom typically creates chip reference designs and then manufacturers take the chip reference designs and build the final end-user product, it's unclear from this news if Broadcom is creating the final end-user Skype phone product
Broadcom: Broadcom worked with Skype to port its software onto the reference design. The OEM then builds the end product with the Skype-ready reference design.

Tom: It's available in Japan, what about U.S.?
Broadcom: Buffalo has not provided US availability yet.

As for a photo, the Broadcom rep said that a photo wasn't made available yet. No Photo? A poor way to announce news in my humble opinion.


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