Skype Phones, Skype ATA's
(Sponsor: Lok Technology)
Andy Abramson notes the arrival of a new device, the Internet Phone Wizard from Actiontec that allows Skype users to make and receive their calls on a standard analog phone rather than using your PC-mounted Skype client (the Wizard is compatible with boxes running Windows 2000 or XP).
There's a short discussion about the Wizard on Engadget that raises a couple of good points about devices like this. First, there's some griping about price: CNET says the Wizard lists at $69.99, but a quick scan on Froogle shows listings from roughly $37 to $55 (I'm guessing the mode is $45). The gripe about price is whether a device that requires you to keep your computer running to make calls is worth anything like that or qualifies as more than a novelty. And that leads to the second good point: Where, one Engadget reader asks, is the Skype's equivalent of an ATA, hardware that would allow people to make Skype calls on handsets without booting up their PCs? Not that that booting up is necessarily such a huge headache, not that Skype is the be-all and end-all of voice services (especially quality-wise), but widespread availability of free calling from handsets would win over lots of people who seems to have a technological allergy to computer-based calling. (For what it's worth, Public Mind is taking consumer requests for new features in Skype.)