Netgear offers PC-less Skype product

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Netgear offers PC-less Skype product

According to NETGEAR, this is the first mobile WiFi internet calling phone announced on the market - unlike other Internet calling devices, you do not need to connect to a PC. In fact, unlike the Linksys CIT 200 Skype phone that I reviewed which connects to the PC's USB port, the NETGEAR phone simply needs Internet access. Apparently, they've embedded the Skype software into the phone itself. B)

NETGEAR, a worldwide provider of technologically advanced, branded networking products, and Skype, the global Internet communications company, today announced they are working on a family of innovative new products, including the world's first Skype wireless mobile telephone and a router equipped to optimize Skype.

The NETGEAR WiFi phone will make mobile Internet telephony a reality for Skype users. Unlike other devices that must connect with a PC, NETGEAR's Skype WiFi phone will work wherever a consumer is connected to a wireless Internet access point - be that in a home, office, cafe, open public hotspot, or any open municipal wireless access point being deployed worldwide. The Skype experience remains the same, in that users can make free domestic and international calls, as well as host conference calls and chat, with other Skype users anywhere in the world, and to non-Skype users for a small fee. With this device, headphones or USB phones plugged into a laptop or PC are not required.

"Customers can now call anyone on Skype, anywhere in the world for free without using a PC anytime they are connected to WiFi. We're extremely proud to deliver the world's first mobile phone enabling customers to enjoy all the benefits of Skype," said Patrick Lo, NETGEAR's chairman and chief executive officer. "Moreover, Skype integration with our RangeMax wireless router will further extend our leadership in innovative networking devices. Skype offers the simplicity, WiFi offers the connectivity, and NETGEAR offers the technology to innovate these market-changing products. Our teamwork with Skype is yet another way that NETGEAR is helping people to connect, all around the world."

An October report from Jupiter Research forecasts that by 2010, 20.4 million U.S. households will subscribe to some form of Internet-based broadband phone service, while In-Stat holds that widespread adoption of Internet calling in both the business and consumer markets depends on the availability of compatible wireless handsets (August 2005 report).

The NETGEAR device will combine the best of Internet calling and wireless. The NETGEAR phone is pre-loaded with Skype's software, ready out-of-the-box to use with a wireless network. All a user needs to do after turning on the phone is enter a Skype username and password. The Skype software pulls up the user's full contact list, displays the connection status on the phone screen, and allows the consumer to connect to any other Skype user for free. The phone will also allow users to connect to non-Skype users with the SkypeOut feature. More information on NETGEAR's Skype WiFi phone, including pricing and availability, is planned for the first quarter of 2006.

"By collaborating with NETGEAR, Skype's reach is extended to a new, important consumer platform. This new phone allows Skype to offer its global users improved mobility," said James Bilefield, vice president of business development for Skype. "Simplicity and style were two qualities we looked for in a mobile phone and NETGEAR's new device will offer both to Skype users."

In addition to the Skype Wifi phone, NETGEAR and Skype also announced that the NETGEAR RangeMax Wireless Router (WPN824) with Smart MIMO technology, a 2006 CES Innovations Design and Engineering Award honoree and the industry's #1 selling MIMO-G product, will be equipped to optimize Skype. Adapting to changing wireless conditions is unique to NETGEAR's RangeMax technology, and RangeMax routers dynamically avoid interference from neighboring wireless networks and eliminate dead spots to maintain the most reliable, high-performance, long-range network connections to each client, making them ideal for supporting applications such as Skype.

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