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The Doro WT89 fulfills your secret agent fantasies

Filed under: Electronics,Electronics,Reviews,two-way radios
Ginny Granger @ May 21, 2007 | 7:40 am

The Doro WT89 is a walkie-talkie. It does what any other two-way radio does–transmit signals to another radio within the range of a particular frequency, and receive similar signals.

So, what’s the fuss all about?

Well, the Doro WT89 is definitely not your ordinary walkie-talkie. Although it performs like one (with exceptionally clair audio, one must add) it doesn’t look like one. In fact, it looks rather like a rugged sports watch–the kind of watch one would wear while skiing or while doing some other similar outdoor activity. It doesn’t give any visual clues as to its real identity as a two-way radio until it starts crackling.

And that’s what hooks you into the WT89–the almost James Bond-like feeling you get when you wear it and use it, fulfilling all little boys’ (and for that matter, grown boys, too) fantasies of being a secret agent.

Don’t worry, though, after you get over the secret thrill, the Doro WT89 still delivers in the features department, with an advertised range of up to 3 kilometres, making it ideal for a variety of outdoor pursuits–running, skiing, hiking, sky diving, you name it.

On testing we managed to get 2km range out of the watches with a good reception, which is a lot more than we’ve seen in the past from similar models. Communication is free, and no licence is needed. The 8 selectable channels and 38 sub codes to each channel increases privacy through channel selection which gives over 300 different channel combinations. Definitely a piece of electronics good enough even for James Bond.

The Netgear SPH200D: How does it measure up?

Filed under: Cordless Phones,Cordless Phones,Reviews,VoIP & Skype,VoIP & Skype
Ginny Granger @ May 19, 2007 | 6:28 pm

It’s hard to believe there was a time when phones were simply devices that plugged into proprietary sockets in order to make circuit-switched phone conversations. There are still plenty of such handsets around, or course, but if you can stand a bit more complexity, there are telephones out there attempting to break the barriers of conventional telephony–not to mention cutting down the costs of making calls.

Netgear’s smart SPH200D is one such phone. It plugs into a standard telephone socket in order to make calls using the PSTN as would any other DECT-based cordless handset. At the same time, it comes with a base station which has an Ethernet port, allowing it to be plugged into the Internet to automatically access Skype, the revolutionary internet telephony company. It can also be used with alternative VoIP services, though this feature depends on having the required access box and subscription from that company.

Perhaps seeing it as a landline+ type of proposition is looking at it the wrong way around. Nobody would seriously buy this handset to make ‘landline calls’, as they are still sometimes called. The Netgear is an Internet, VoIP phone first that lets the user integrate this manner of communicating with the old-style PSTN for convenience. It integrates two very different worlds into one so that the differences in underlying technology don’t need to be thought about. To the home or small business user, it is just a phone.

The point about using this phone with Skype/SkypeOut is that it frees the user from using a PC (i.e Skype run on a PC with a microphone or USB phone plugged in); the software to set up and manage the Skype connection is built into the phone itself. Once the account user name and password has been plugged into the handset, the phone does the rest on its own, a process that is transparent to the user. The only slight inconvenience is that when dialling, the user must manually choose whether to route the call over a landline connection or Skype, something that can be mildly confusing at first. One can be preferred over the other.

The Netgear SPH200D also integrates with one of Skype’s cleverest features, the ability to see when other Skype contacts are online and available to receive calls. If any of a user’s trusted contacts have their Skype fired up, the phone displays these on its colour LCD screen, ready to be ‘phoned’ at a single button click. It’ll even note the SkypeOut call credit available to phone contacts where the end-point is a PSTN line.

An unexpected bonus that eventually worked; anyone picking up the phone who happens not to have an existing Skype account set up on a PC can plug in a user name and password, and sign up for the service using the handset itself. Normally, this would be set up online, but that means having a computer on hand.

The phone itself is unusually well made by the standards of consumer DECT handsets, but is pretty much identical in every other way. The major difference is the menus to set up the Skype service, and some additional network settings that might be required on some sites (setting DHCP or a static IP address for instance).

About the only thing we’d question is the price – at a street price of just over £100, the Netgear is more expensive that buying the rival Philips dual-mode handset, and you also get a spare handset with the Philips. The Netgear is better made than the average DECT handset, which is worth bearing in mind for the long term.

The Philips PhotoFrame is Best in Class

Filed under: Electronics,Electronics,Reviews
Ginny Granger @ May 17, 2007 | 5:15 pm

Compared to its competitors, the Philips PhotoFrame seems almost too simple. One competitor boasts Wi-Fi capabilities; another competitor can play MP3s; while yet another competitor plays .avi videos. The PhotoFrame has none of these fancy bells and whistles. Then again, though all those special features are all well and good, none of the competition can beat the Philips PhotoFrame what it’s meant to do: display your digital photos.

The PhotoFrame has a bright seven-inch LCD (800 x 480 pixels), surrounded by a matte-silver border. It supports SD, MMC, MS, CF, and xD Cards. We loaded our photos with an SD Card and were very impressed with how vibrant they looked on the frame. The PhotoFrame automatically detects the orientation of an image and rotates it accordingly. A built-in PhotoEffect Wizard lets you crop, zoom, and create collages. The PhotoFrame can also display the time and date along with your photos.

In contrast, Competitor 1 has a comparably good LCD screen, but has a great number of hidden costs–such as for the Wi-Fi feature–that are nearly superfluous. Competitor 2 is ok, but has problems reading certain file formats. Competitor 3′s LCD display is dark, the colors come out dull and lifeless, and is smaller than the advertised 7-inches.

The Philips Photoframe doesn’t skimp on the small details, either. With its controls hidden at the back, the frame itself looks sleek and lovely. The PhotoFrame is made from materials of the best quality, so one needn’t worry about buying a short-lived home electronic product that was merely a waste of money. The interface and controls are intuitive and thus easy to operate, which adds even more value to an already great product.

The Philips PhotoFrame is certainly the best digital photo display available today. There’s something great to be said about simplicity, after all.

Panasonic KX TG7220E: Spectacular is Simple

Filed under: Cordless Phones,Cordless Phones
Jenny @ March 27, 2007 | 9:17 am

Do you often bemoan the lack of useful features in your cordless phone but at the same time, eschew the notion of switching over to fancy cordless phones? Well, functional doesn’t have to mean fancy all the time. The KX TG7220E, new kid on the block of Panasonic’s cordless phones, is apparent proof of that. With answering machine capabilities that can record 20 minutes worth of messages, the classically inclined design of the KX TG7220E definitely shuns the usual trappings that other phones in the same degree come along with.

Panasonic KX TG7200: Basic With An Edge

Filed under: Cordless Phones,Cordless Phones
Jenny @ | 9:17 am

If you haven’t been informed of the latest developments in the cordless phone industry, the KX TG7200 from Panasonic will effectively clue you in on what works and doesn’t. A new add-on to the commercially successful Panasonic cordless phone line-up, this unit strings along a number of features that take the grind out of call transactions aplenty. With an LCD backlight done in amber, display readability is high. The phonebook stores about 50 contacts so you can access any number you need at any time you wish.

KX TG8070E: Beyond the Average

Filed under: Cordless Phones,Cordless Phones
Jenny @ | 9:17 am

With the endless parcel of odds and ends that the cordless phone market keeps ending up with, locating well-equipped units are turning into an insane task. The timely launch of the KX TG8070E from Panasonic seeks to effectively see to this concern. Designed along simple, classical lines, the newest addition to the already astonishing line of Panasonic cordless phones has structured a slew of features into one efficient cordless phone system capable of handling all sorts of functions that a typical professional has a need for.

Panasonic KX TG8220E: In the Black

Filed under: Cordless Phones,Cordless Phones
Jenny @ | 9:16 am

Lack of sterling fashion can hobble a unit even before it even has a chance to show off a number of its splendid functions. Not so with the KX TG8220E, a new release from Panasonic. With its glossy, black looks, this trendy polished brick has no problem with first impressions. Unlike a great many designer cordless phones, it’s rife with convenience features that provide consumers with more than their basic communication services. It includes an answering machine capable of saving up to 40 minutes worth of messages and a 1.5 colour LCD for display visibility.

Impressive Communication with the Siemens Gigaset A160 and A260

Filed under: Cordless Phones,Cordless Phones
Jenny @ March 17, 2007 | 9:55 am

Right after the release of cordless telephony darlings like the Gigasets A160 and A260, variants of these two cordless phones from Siemens immediately followed.

With the sole exception of in-built answering machines, the variants demonstrated no other features that set them apart from their forebears. The Gigaset A160 along with its debut companion, the A260, is a striking Siemens cordless phone in its own right. Both units employ an illuminated display so that users do not have to strain their eyes, peering into the display information. They come with phonebook listings that allow a total of 50 contacts to be entered into the unit’s system.

Get Style and Talk time with the Siemens Gigaset C340/C345

Filed under: Cordless Phones,Cordless Phones,VoIP & Skype,VoIP & Skype
Jenny @ | 9:54 am

Talk as long as you wish with the Siemens Gigaset C340 and Gigaset C345. The batteries for each unit lasts a glorious fifteen hours, enough to make anyone feel giddy at the prospect of uninterrupted phone call transactions. But lo and behold, these are not the only surprises in store, albeit those fifteen hours is a feature that’s quite tough to beat. Both cordless phones incorporate an illuminated graphic display into their structures so users can see with ease and comfort. Ringer tunes that you can set for specific phonebook contact also enable caller recognition. So you’ll know straightaway if it is your boss on the other line asking for an update on your sky-high tasks or your best pal wanting a rattletrap account of the latest deets on your social life.

Exceptional and Tough: Siemens Gigaset E455/450

Filed under: Cordless Phones,Cordless Phones
Jenny @ | 9:53 am

Excellence and durability meet in the Gigaset E455 and Gigaset E450 from Siemens.

Functionality is the principal draw of many cordless phones in the market. And if you happen to enjoy this with the cordless phone unit you own, then there is no reason why you should even ask for more, right?

Wrong. Since human beings are essentially evolving creatures, we expect that same sort of dynamism, of growth to extend to the gamut of the communication systems available to us. Can you imagine seeing the sort of phone on your desk for thirty even twenty years? The idea does not hold any distinct appeal at all—which is basically why there is always a relentless flood of high-gadgetry innovations. Consumers need variety in their gadgets in much the same way that they require it from their lives and technology companies understand this very basic fact. Change is after all the only thing that we can trust in the world—what with everything else being subjected to the whims of time.

This is why the Gigaset E455 and Gigaset E450 typify the ideal phone.

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