Saturday, March 21, 2009
Product Review: Ipevo S0-20 Skype wi-fi phone
After the bad luck with the Netgear SPH101 I had gone for the Belkin F1PP000GN-SK I decided to go for the just recently released S0-20 but not to take any chances this time.... Therefore I decided to ask Howard Chang of AmprerorDirect.com as he is one of the Skype wi-fi hardware gurus I know.
It's a 139 bucks Skype wi-fi phone and to my pleasure and surprise, they've decided to send the unit as a gift for reviewing on my blog! So thanks guys!
I know that Howard did his own review, but I want to be independent, so I didn't read it yet. I want to thank Howard Chang and amperordirect for the gift and making a live test before sending it to me to assure me having much fun with it!
The problems with the Netgar SPH101 was that the latest beta firmware unfortunately is faulty and despite successful updating, it died on me after restarting the phone! (It would get stuck during the booting process!)
The Belkin Skype wi-fi phone had echo issues and eventhough the latest firmware fixes them it causes disturbance sounds during calls ever since. So you cannot clearly hear each other. And it's not a router or connectivity issue, as I have tried it at a couple of different setups!
So compared to those 2 phones (the SMC one being almost the same as the Belkin one, as even the SMC charging craddle is compatible to the Belkin one), It has the following advantages:
- No multiple presence bugs running 3 instances of Skype on: Skype for Windows, Ipevo SOLO Skype Desktop phone and the Ipevo S0-20!
All 3 instances ring on incoming skype calls (all three being online in available mode), while on short rings only the S0-20 will ring! (less than 5 seconds). So be patient a bit and the SOLO plus the SKype for Windows client will ring also!
-Very compfortable keypad!
The keypad is of very good quality! The keypad has a medium release point when pressing! Here the SPH101 needed considerably more newton to get a reaction while the Belkin one had a very wacky, cheap and crappy keypad, including almost dead number keys after intensive usage!
- The Skype on Devices on client used in the phone is rocket fast! Navigation will happen and buttons will be reacting within a blink of an eye! client performance will only slow significantly down when doing ajax searches, however Ajax is not very fast by itself already, so this can be forgiven.
On calls, the sound quality is pretty decent! It has no connectivity issues and sound gliches! While the SPH101 had now and then small gaps and the Belkin wifi the above described issues, during calls, the S0-20 always widstands such problems!
In contrast to my past experience with Skype wi-fi phones this is the first time people didn't instantly notice that the sound quaility is worse! Neither on PSTN calls nor on Skype2Skype connections anybody said anything before I asked for quality feedback! The only tiny issue noticed is that the first seconds on PSTN calls can cause echos to the other party but those vanish after the first seconds when the echo cancellation of the Skype for Devices client kicks in!
The voice sampling rate is 8KHz compared to Skype's computer clients which have 16 KHz, this is however a limit of the Skype on Devices software so again not Ipevo's fault.
In contrast to the limit of 250 contacts of the Netgear SPH101 and the limit of 500 contacts on the Ipevo SOLO there is nowhere a hardcoded contact amount limited mentioned. (At least not on the places I looked), so here, it is a full replacement of the Belkin wi-fi phone which also - according to statements made by Belkin - has no contact amount limit!
I cannot say much about the battery life span yet since I just recently received it and yes, the battery indicator is not working at all! I will always indicate a fully loaded battery! It's powered by a 3.7 V 900mAh Lithium-Ion battery pack and can be loaded by USB connection or the charging craddle which also can be powered over mini USB.
According to previous statements of Netgear's management the most battery consuming part of the wi-fi phones is the Skype on Devices JAVA client used.
Ipevo products I reviewed in past usually showed a minimum amount of bugs and the S0-20 is no exception. Unfortunately I have however found a second bug: The voicemail welcome message is not played correctly, there are gaps in between when playing.
The charging cradle teaches the user that you have to place the phone into the craddle after you made your calls. The general handling of the phone is identical to your home PSTN phone!
A few notes about the Skype on Devices client used:
The client appears to be the same like in any other Skype built-in phone device, it's copyrighted 2007 by Skype.
The software in the S0-20 differs in the following points:
Compared to the Belkin Wifi/Netgear SPH101 and the Ipevo SOLO:
+The display gets lit after a while before going off totally!
+The phone allows you to set your country code.
+It works in enviroments with multple clients logged into your account at the same time.
+Connectivity to the WLAN router (I used a LinkSYS WRT54GL with latest DD-WRT firmware!) is rock-stable!
+GUI speed is faster than Speedy Gonzales.
+Charging craddle included - extra value for your money!
+Perfect functional keypad
+No contact list limit known
-No speakerphone functionality! (Possible to include in a later firmware update as the speaker is placed on the back of the phone)
-No full UNICODE char support - Czech chars are not displayed (SPH101 could)
-Headset jack specifications not documented. Not compatible with the headsets for SPH101/Belkin's wifi phone
-No possibility to enter local city code (SOLO could) - kills the "even your grandma can use it" usability
-Battery indicator doesn't work and voicemail welcome message doesn't play correctly
Summary: It's for sure the best Skype wi-fi phone around! This phone again shows the strengths of Ipevo: Delivering bugfree, hassle free and perfectly developed products with perfect value for your money!
What makes me concerned however is the problems Ipevo has regarding product marketing and end-user support.
At least in the end Ipevo seems to have finally fixed the SOLO firware download and offers a firmware upgrade manual. The S0-20 is the 2nd product for which no such manual is available! Windows Vista X64 detects it as unknown USB device means the functionality is there.
Only available to date is a quick manual
The product will stand and fall with the end-user support and the product management!
A bad sign is, that I received an email from Ipevo telling me there is no more SOLO firmware development as of Q4 / 2008.
Please Ipevo, be so kind and improve in those areas, your products are awesome, please start taking care of them in the same manner!
If any user reading this has a S0-20 too, please get in touch with me for experience exchange, thank you :)
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