Pocket-lint was given an exclusive look at a new VoIP box that will allow you to utilise your current phone with your PC to get the most out of the Skype.
Due out later this year, the uConnect box from Firebox.com allows you to connect your phone handset to your computer and use it as you would a regular phone connected to a regular service like BT.
The software installation was very simple and once installed, the rather odd looking dongle is connected to your PC (which must always be on), and then to your phone line and to the phone you plan to use. Because the "break-out" box uses standard connections you can use any phone that currently works on your land line, including cordless DECT models.
Having everything plugged in and Skype installed you can start making calls with little or no problem. To access the Skype features, either via a "Skype to Skype" call or by using the "Skype Out" service all you have to do is press ** twice on your keypad, the number (including the international dialling code) and then follow it all with a single press of the hash key.
On doing so the new box of tricks that you've plugged in kicks into action and then gets to work. There is a slightly annoying delay to this happening, and speed dialers will have to wait around two seconds after the initial ** for the Skype software to catch up else have to come to terms with always missing the first couple of digits.
We tested the phone on a number of different calls, both using "SkypeOut" and "Skype to Skype". In those tests we called a land line in France and the reception was very good. A similar call to a UK mobile however wasn't as great even though the caller at the other end of the phone assured us they were in a good reception area.
Where the unit shines however was dialling "Skype to Skype" either overseas or the UK. Pressing an additional * starts the service and then its a case of following the instructions from there. On numerous occasions to a number of different Skype users, the line was clear and crisp. One person we phoned even said it was better than the call we had just made on the land line and just like we were in the other room - heavy praise indeed.
When it comes to incoming calls the phone you've got connected to the system will automatically ring as if it's your standard phone.
So what's the catch? Well as far as we can tell there isn't one. You will have to have your computer on all the time to make and receive calls as well as having a broadband connection to make it all possible. Beyond that you will also need to have your computer fairly near a phone line as the cable in the box isn't that long.
As for the price, the £35 price tag won't break the bank and if you are someone that makes a lot of overseas calls or someone who is just on the phone a lot then this is certainly worth the investment.