Friday, January 18, 2008

Product Review: Ipevo SOLO

Everybody who has read my erlier reviews knows what to exspect here. :)

I have read a couple of reviews before and felt like some things got missing.

First of all, what do we have infront of here? A desktop phone which looks pretty pretty - except it has a huge (for this kind of phone at least) display of 2.4 inch of very good quality compareable to the SPH101!

It seems like the IPEVO marketing guys and technicans had a closer look on the failures of previews Skype on Devices products like the masses of Skype wi-fi phones.

The phone is a 24/7 phone so never pull the plug on it and just connect it to your system's router (if you have no router you can also connect it directly to your DSL/cable modem since the phone features an internal 1 port network switch so your phone acts like pass-through devices to your PC).

Since I am having a port free on my router, I decided to directly connect it on PORT 4 to my router.

DHCP is default factory setting, so my router attached automagically an IP address to my phone. But you can also change the network settings so it's even compatible to weird proxy settings.

You can even setup a static IP inside the phone's network settings, which is probably only useful if you do not have a router since the DHCP service of the router will do the same if I enter the mac address of the phone.

Ipevo PR claims that the SOLO is so intiuitve to use that even your grandmother can use this phone and they meant it serious - Well, if your grandmother knows English of course - because this is a requirement since the phone only knows Chinese simplied, traditonal and English of course. We have seen this with the SPH101 in past, so another firmware update will probably fix this. It's about time Ipevo, noticing that the release date of this beast was June 2007 already.

Also the phone came pre-installed with the US receptacle plug. Well, hope your granny will manage to exchange it with the EU plug which is also included in the package.

Anyway, once placed nicely on the desk to my left, time to switch it on.
First, I got to choose the language I want (English), then time and then Date, then country and then city code, which is great because I always find it uncompfortable with the Skype wi-fi phones I have seen that I always had to enter the country code and the city code infront. Then you also have to agree on the Skype terms which are this time just links instead of scrollable text.

Second thing you will notice if the blue LED that is lightening up. First you think it indicates that it is powered, but after youz have searched 30 minutes for the power switch (manuals are boring anyway so why reading? =) ), you end up with the result that there is none. SO this one is for something else. Indeed it means that thet phone is "ready" (Ipevo calls it standby mode).

Anyway, we were speaking about the ease of use so back to this. Once the contacts are downloaded (which will take quite a while but your phone will do this only once in a lifetime so relax), time to take up the receiver and what do I hear? A dialing tone! Yep, Skype has no dialing tone but the phone generates a fake one to signal that the phone is ready to receive a number you dial.

With the softkey on the right you can open your contact list. Noticing this is a speaker phone, there is one thing that is important: If you select a contact and press the speaker phone, it will start calling your contact already!

Now ready for the first call. Result: The call quality is perfect, doesn't matter if you use the handset or the speaker which you can switch between pressing the speaker button. It also has a volume + - key and a mute key. And last but not least, re-dial key-pressing will result in opening the list of outgoing calls you have made.
Indeed the call quality is so perfect that people tend to forget that you are using a desktop phone and not a computer and ask you to start up your webcam for Skype video :D

If you are used to a round and curvey handset that attaches nincely to your ear you will be disappointed as the IPEVO SOLO's one is uncompfortable and blocky. However after a couple of calls you will get used to it, finding the right angle and position for your ear. Anyway, the handset appears so much 80's like with a hyper modern 2.4" coloured LCD display that you can adjust the angle of to your needs.

If you are trying to add MySpaceIM users to your contact list, you will not find any myspace users in the SOLO's Skype people search.

"What is the USB port for?" is a question we have read in many reviews in past and the answer is simple. It has 2 uses:

1) You can attach it to a PC and so do firmware updates (but an USB cable is not included so you will have to buy one with a standard A plug on both ends) or you can make the phone wireless with a wi-fi adapter (minus the AC cable of course which you need for the 220-240 v/50hz - battery pack anyone? =) ).

According to Skype's Garage blog

"the new wireless adapter for the phone will be available soon"

which is not entirely correct. According to Ipevo it is available but yet only to USA or Taiwan:

"IPEVO provides specific wifi adapter which proforms the best with SOLO. Please be acknowledged that the other wifi adapters may not function well on SOLO. Moreover, except Taiwan and the USA, we do not have to sell this SOLO accessory overseas."

my inquiry whether one could order it from thus offices even from abroad stood unreplied as of yet.

How well does the phone perform when its unattended? Pretty well! If you want to use it like your normal home phone you should never go offline on Skype or logout since you will not be notified about missed calls or voicemails, on the other hand common for Skype is (since it is an IM client after all) that people will straight call you if they cannot send you text messages since the phone will tell them that they can "call instead". Solution is here to switch to DND mode which will make the phone stop ringing.

Now the things that has this phone in comon with other Skype on Devices gadgeds:

-The same 3 ringing tones. Skype modern, Skype classic, and bubbly

-You can participate in conference calls but you cannot host them (would require probably too much CPU power)

-Since Skype is based on multi-login accounts, you can keep Windows clients, Mac clients, Linux clients, wi-fi phones and what not running and once an incoming call is noticed all will ring

-You can't send SMS from the phone

-You can define a stwich-off period of time for the display - however the SOLO will first go darker before it toally switches off the display.

What I miss is a backlight for the keys so you can also perfectly use it in darkness.

Instead Ipevo included a nice paper manual which is full of pictures and easy instructions and fully in colour!

And since you have the LED flashing on missed events you no longer have to press a key to reactivate the phone to see wether you have missed something while you have been away!

In my pros and cons I will only include the pros and cons of the phone, not the Skype client that is included in the phone since all the other phones have the same "problems".

+Very easy to use and feels like a real desktop phone
+speaker phone function is perfect, no echos, no nothing - better than the SPH101!
+Ecellent 2.4 inch display and LED plus flexibility in the network configuration.

-Wi-Fi adapter only availble for Taiwan and USA as of now.
-Handsets design requires time to get used to it depending on users requirements.
-Only 3 speed-dial keys, I would have prefered 6
-A B-Type USB jack would have been better since many users have spare USB cables flying around.

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Preston Lee said...

Thanks for the note about the USB port. I'd love to grab a wireless adapter for it. Also check out my review.

Nafcom said...

@Preston Lee:

You are welcome! You can contact Ipevo at service[at] and ask for one.

For me the wifi adapter would have not much use since the receptacle is close to the PC.

Your review gives very interesting suggestions for improvements

Lee Shepard said...

Good Post! It's great to recieve praise and read user feedback concerning Ipevo products.

dimzDROID said...

Thanks for review, it was excellent and very informative.
thank you :)