Skype has finally built a standalone analog telephony adapter (ATA) (via their FREETALK brand) that you can hook up with your home phone line. Called the FREETALK Connect•Me Home Phone Adapter it is a PC-less standalone Skype device. It's a relatively small device that can be plugged directly into a wall outlet. It's sort of an oversized AC adapter with connectors on the bottom, as seen here:
In the picture above you can see the two-prong electric plug and then a white phone wire (to landline), black phone wire (to phone), and a blue network wire. I'm not sure I like the idea of this device requiring that I hang it against the wall in one of my wall electric outlets. It would have to use the bottom of a two outlet configuration due to the size of this and the wires coming out. I know in my house there are various AC adapters, surge protectors, etc. using up the wall outlets. I suppose you could connect this to the end of a surge protector, but that too is a prime spot and might look ugly/messy with 3 wires coming out of it.
I suppose in theory if you wanted to go 100% Skype you could skip the landline connection and connect the phone port directly up to your home wiring - after disconnecting your traditional phone line of course - you don't want voltage coming from the CO frying your brand new Skype ATA.
I'm not sure the REN (ringer equivalence number) on the FREETALK Connect•Me. I've written about this before, but I'll mention again that most telcos provide enough current to ring five telephones, also known as the standard 5 REN, however VoIP analog telephony adaptors (ATAs) often limit it to just 3 REN. If you connect more than 3 phone devices your phones ringing will be very weak or it won't ring at all. Interestingly, Skype's FAQ says, "A landline is not required to use the home phone adapter for Skype. However Skype should not be considered as a replacement landline service." Doesn't spark confidence, does it? Could be 911-related along with the inherent liabilities. Hence the disclaimer here.
Of course, Skype isn't the first or only one to offer a standalone Skype device that also works with your existing home phone line. There is the Philips VoIP841 or even the ActionTec Internet Phone Wizard which I reviewed in 2005, six years ahead of this product.
- Measurements: 95 (height) x 62 (width) x 32 (depth) mm.
- Weight: 100 gram.
- 1 FXO.
- 1 FXS.
- 1 x LAN (DHCP).
- Skype NWC.
FREETALK Connect•Me can be configured to automatically know when to use Skype for calls and when to use your standard landline. Thus, you can configure it to route all of your international calls through Skype and all of your local calls through your traditional landline. The device will automatically know the type of number you are dialing and connect based on your configuration. You'll hear a different dial tone when you make your call over Skype vs. your landline so you know how it is being routed. You can override automatic routing by simply dialing ** to use Skype or # to force a landline call.Skype is offering a $2 credit with the device. It retails for $39.99.