ALTHOUGH THE FIRST batch of 3's Skype phones have not arrived in Irish sales channels, I had a look at a 3G Skype phone while in Dublin and just the Skype logo on the phone is enough to suggest this technology is one of the most disruptive to arrive in the telecommunications space in Ireland. The 3 Skype phone is a combination mobile phone and Skype handset. You can make calls and enjoy high-speed data services with the phone while connected to 3 or you can use the Skype software on the phone to connect to friends by using Skype. This capability works wherever you can get a 3G signal while using a 3 handset. In centre city Dublin where I checked out the phone, strong signal from 3 is a common. From practical knowledge, I know that high-quality signal deteriorates in towns with tall terrain obstructions, as in my experience in a home tucked close to the shadows of the Rock of Cashel. Nonetheless, it was impressive to watch the 3 Skype phone at work in Dublin. In my humble opinion, this lightweight phone delivers more value for money than the iPhone.
The Skype menu on the phone shows little green icons when someone is available among your Skype contacts, the same display as on the computer when using Skype.
You can send text messages to friends using Skype. This costs nothing when using the 3 Skype phone. I'm playing with a Skype text channel that relays 140 characters at a time to Jaiku.
A short session with the 3 Skype phone is only good for making a first impression. This little phone feels solid, works well as a standard mobile phone and brings Skype to the hands of people who may not have their own computer. That alone--letting 3 take care of the computer and network connections while making a Skype call--would be compelling reasons to buy the grandparents a 3 Skype phone for Christmas.
I'll have a chance to bash around the 3 Skype phone during the rest of November. I doubt I'll change my favourable initial impression.
3 Skypephone -- "Your essential guide to calling the world"
Neville Hobson -- "3 Skypephone: First Impressions"
Dan York -- "Use Skype from Anywhere"
John Naughton -- "Well, I'll be Skyped"
Talking first about 3's Skype phone on Jaiku and diving into iSkoot.
James Galvin -- "Three Launching a New Skype Phone Today"
Stephen Errity -- "Three Ireland to launch Skypephone".
Dermot Corrigan -- "Skypephone hits the market" in The Sunday Business Post, 11 November 2007.