Two new gadgets bring Skype to your landline phone

Two new gadgets bring Skype to your landline phone

Summary: A new adapter lets you make free Skype calls to up to 100 different contacts simply by picking up your landline telephone.


Day two of this blog, and already I am ready to reaffirm something that I wrote in my opening post: There are plenty of technology options available to small businesses that are creative, even if those products technically are billed as "consumer" offerings.

Exhibits A & B: Two new gadgets from Skype that are designed to let you use the internet calling service from the landline in your home. They are being pitched at consumers and individuals, but the products could offer another great way for really small businesses or startup organizations to keep their telecommunications costs in check.

The first product is called the FREETALK ConnectMe Home Phone Adapter (pictured to the right). You need a computer to set it up, but after that, all you need is a broadband internet connection and a home phone. You pick up that handset, and dial a Skype number. The gadget can store up to 100 Skype contacts or speed dials. Once you set it up, you don't need to boot up your computer to make a Skype call.

There are several different bundles of the phone adapter. An entry-level edition that includes 60 minutes of free calls to landlines and mobiles via Skype is $39.99. You will pay $59.99 for two different service bundles: a FREETALK adapter plus 12 months of calls to landlines and mobile phones in the United States and Canada plus 200 minutes of international calls; or an adapter plus three months unlimited world subscription.

Skype has also teamed up with GE to introduce a new cordless telephone, called the GE Digital Cordless Expandable Telephone with Skype. This is the latest in a series of handsets that Skype-ready handsets that the company has introduced.

The pricing for the cordless phone stars at $69.99 with 400 minutes of calls to international landlines and mobile phones; $89.99 will get you 12 months of unlimited calls to the United States and Canada and 200 minutes of international calls.

One thing to note is that you can't use Skype for emergency calls, which is something that is on my mind after the hurricane last week. My street was completely dependent on mobile phones, because ALL the lines came down with a tree and every service was knocked out.

If you are a small-business owner or even the manager of a division at a midsize company that is trying to more closely control telecommunications costs associated with people working at home, you could see how these new products might be applicable. They could, for example, allow someone to work at home and keep their business calls managed separately for their personal calls, without requiring them to add another phone line.

Both of the products are available in the United States in the Skype Store or through eBuyNow. If you live in another country, you will have to wait until later this year.

Topics: Security, Browser, Collaboration, Networking, Social Enterprise

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.


Log in or register to join the discussion
  • been there did that

    Several years ago when my daughter spent 6 months going to school in France, I rigged a DLink device so my non-techie wife could use a standard cordless phone to talk with our daughter via Skype. And yes the same phone was connected with our landline too. It worked well enough, most of the time, and certainly avoided some big international phone bills.

    These newer devices may be incrementally better, but the concept is far from new.
    Jim Johnson
  • Nothing new, but maybe better - Also, 911 options

    There have been various phones and devices already that accomplish this, but they have been pricey, excessive considering the technological and manufacturing simplicity, and the fact that Skype is used primarily by those seeking to save money. They have also generally proven to be unreliable performers - racking up a plethora of negative reviews - as well as tending to go in and out of production. It does appear that with these new devices pricing has improved. Hopefully performance and reliability has as well.

    As for 911 service, I cannot speculate on this option around the country, but the emergency call center in my area of Los Angeles has a regular phone number that connects directly with 911 service. I merely asked at the local LAPD precinct. They had to dig a little, but found the number. This was two years ago; Presumably with the increase in Skype and similar services, this information is more readily available.
  • What's a landline???.............................

    'nuff said......
    • RE: Two new gadgets bring Skype to your landline phone

      This is the communications scheme that, unlike so-called mobile 'phones (formerly known as walkie-talkies) doesn't have regular dropped connections, has decent fidelity and echo control, and doesn't require yelling into an awkward little brick to communicate - and is offered without ridiculous contracts and onerous pricing.
  • RE: Two new gadgets bring Skype to your landline phone

    Really, these days there are a number of better performing VOIP options, compared to Skype. Every time I enter a conversation via Skype the audio quality is really bad - distortions & cutting out of words - not at all an efficient com tool, but also incredibly cheap, in general.
    With fiber & other cable/net VIOP's now available, I find they are significantly superior for voice quality - so I fear if Skype does not rethink its basic technology. they face demise.
    If a business does actually stoop so low as to use Skype for their customer communications, they deliver a strong message of "cheap" and are likely to suffer a bad rep. & lost business, IMHO.
  • Very misleading

    While it claims you can make free Skype calls, you can't buy the adaptor alone. You must buy it with the bundle which costs you US$ 39.99 and US/Canada customers only.
  • Need more elaborate solution?

    How about the IP PBX solutions out there?

    Or a full communications server?