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Thread: D-Link Skype USB Phone Adapter DPH-50U - first in-depth review

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    D-Link Skype USB Phone Adapter DPH-50U - first in-depth review

    Skype says that tens of millions of people around the world now use its software to make and take no-cost or low-cost phone calls over the internet - and most do so with no additional PC hardware other than a microphone headset.

    Yet there are alternatives that let you use a conventional phone or, better still, a DECT walkabout phone.

    Bob Crabtree goes cable-free investigating D-Link's highly-affordable Skype USB Phone Adapter, the DPH-50U, but is none too impressed.


    Check out what we reckon is the world's first in-depth review of the DPH-50U.

    And, of course, share your thoughts with us here.


    NOTE - the Final-thoughts page of this review was heavily revised on August 3 to take account of some further tests. Do re-read that page if you've already seen the review
    Last edited by Bob Crabtree; 04-08-2006 at 09:32 AM.

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    awm
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    To me VoIP seems like a great idea, but practice doesn't seem to be very good. Not having used it I might not be fully qualified to comment, but I can't see any computer microphone being decent quality and if standalone units have all these problems... I think the ideal would be for telephone companies to adopt VoIP for carrying calls (cheeply) beyond a local area and have good old telephone lines locally.

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    awm,

    It's clear to me that you will be very pleasantly suprised if you try Skype!

    There are LOTS of low-cost microphone headsets that give perfectly acceptable quality.

    And if they're cheap in the UK, I dare not think how cheap they're going to be in the States!

    As for what the telecom companies should do, in effect they do exactly what you suggest for long-distance but just using a somewhat different set of protocols to Skype and other VoIP systems.

    Oh, but once you start using Skype, the idea of being able to use a DECT phone to take and make calls - rather than being tied to the PC by a headset - is VERY appealing.

    It's just a pity that D-Link's product seems not to be a finished item.

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    Ive just moved house and got telewest broadband and tv but opted out of the phone and was going to look into this, however now i'm unsure, i was going to purchase this uni can you get any other adapters for wired or dect phones, wireless or wired into a router?

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    Quote Originally Posted by SpawnofSonic
    Ive just moved house and got telewest broadband and tv but opted out of the phone and was going to look into this, however now i'm unsure, i was going to purchase this uni can you get any other adapters for wired or dect phones, wireless or wired into a router?
    SoS,

    Read the review and you'll see that I list out some other similar adapters.

    I said in the piece that one of them, the USRobotic 9620 is due to turn up shortly and, about half an hour after the review went live, this turned up.

    Although the box is different to that of the D-Link - and a bit better designed - I suspect that much the same electronics may be inside.

    What makes me think that is the fact that the USRobotics software is VERY similar to the D-Link's.

    The only difference I see at first glance is that the USRobotics software lacks any option to record Skype calls - which I thought was a pretty cute feature, even though the quality or recorded calls is none too hot.

    The recordings made by the D-Link software were in 16-bit mono with a 9kHz audio sampling (PCM) and a total bitrate of 153kbps.

    I've got the USRobotics unit all set up now but, Sod's Law, all my Skype contacts are away from their PCs and and virtually everyone else I know is away from a phone, so I've not yet been able to give it a proper work out to see if it, too, drops calls when I'm using it with a DECT phone.

    Oh, and in case I didn't fully understand you question, I'd add that the only two product I know of that connect to a router, rather than via a PC, are the WiFi Skype phones due from Netgear and Belkin.

    The Netgear is detailed in my write up of Skype's June hardware showcase in London. The Belkin, which seems a lot better looking and a lot less expensive, was detailed in a recent news story.
    Last edited by Bob Crabtree; 02-08-2006 at 04:02 PM.

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    I splashed out ( a whole 22 quid) on one of these today as a replacement for my wife's keyboard (which is also our 24/7 server PC) which I thought rather cute idea.. Hopefully it's not a bag of crud! Rather interesting was:



    Details here: http://www.a4tech.com/en/product2.as...MNO=KIP(S)-800

    Plus it has the benefit of a super-ghay(tm) product name.. lol
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    SoS (and others),

    I've now had the chance to give the USRobotics kit a decent work out and, I'm hugely relieved to say, it works just fine.

    I've made two SkypeOut calls using the NTL DECT phone, one to the UK (22mins) and one to France (close to 15mins), and each worked faultlessly.

    During the call to France, I took a little walk and got about 50metres away from the DECT phone's base station before...

    ...I got bored and turned round (and paced out the distance back).

    The signal at my end and in France was no worse when I was 50m away than it was when I was sat at the desk right next to the base station.

    So, first thoughts here are VERY different to those with the D-Link.

    What I'm thinking is...

    ...this is a product that really should catch on!

    Second thoughts are...

    Why the devil couldn't D-Link's product work like this?

    I'll do some tests soon, I hope, using different phones and a different computer but, compared to the D-Link, this one is, I think, going to be a pleasure to review.

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    All tests with the D-Link completed - and it's a big thumbs down

    Can't say that I really expected things to be any different but I absolutely wasn't going to pre-judge the situation.

    However, I've now completed all the tests I was planning for the D-Link and, as a result, I've added a final final thoughts page, which now ends with this conclusion...

    Judging by our experiences, a more honest strategy for D-Link would be to pull the product completely off the UK market until it is able to introduce a version that works with modern DECT phones in something approaching a reliable fashion.
    Last edited by Bob Crabtree; 04-08-2006 at 10:58 AM.

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    Eek, another cruddy D-Link product?

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    Wow, a lot of messing about.

    Hopefully D-Lnk will pay some attention to this review!

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    Quote Originally Posted by XA04
    Wow, a lot of messing about.
    Yes, and the amount of time this has taken us to test is totally out of proportion to any return that HEXUS is ever likely to see - unless that can be measured (as probably it should be), in terms of credibility, not just page impressions!

    Mind you, the next Skype USB Telephone Adapter we'll be reviewing, the USRobotics 9620, really should be a doddle, cos it does seem to work pretty well (even though, like the D-Link, it's not compatible with one of the two DECT phones we used during our tests) and we'd had LOTS of experience now, thanks to all the time we've spent hands-on with the D-Link.

    Also, that USRobotics review and any others of Skype-related hardware won't need to include all the background stuff about Skype, SkypeIn, SkypeOut, SkypeHere, SkypeThere and SkypeEverywhere that we thought necessary to include with the D-Link piece (largely cos we didn't have time to write it when we did the review of that MSI webcam).

    Quote Originally Posted by XA04
    Hopefully D-Link will pay some attention to this review!
    In truth, I'd be very surprised if the company did anything at all along the lines I'm suggesting.

    Far more cost-effective, it will probably reason, just to spend on advertising the money that this would have involved!

    I suspect that the deals that companies such as D-Link have in place with respectable resellers mean that returns are not going to be a big issue for consumers (there will be lots of them, I'd imagine, wanting their money back, but, hopefully, there's not going to be a lot of arguing - and our review might be a useful stick to use to beat argumentative resellers).

    But, in truth, no company can keep on selling duff products for ever, no matter how big its ad spend, and if this is representative of what D-Link sells, then - sooner or later - it's got to find itself in trouble.

    I've not had any previous bad experiences with D-Link products - though I can only think of one that I own (a NIC) - so I simply do not know how good or bad the company's product usually are.

    It would be interesting and informative to see if other people's experiences of D-Link are negative or positive or somewhere in between.

    Yes, that is an invitation to comment!

    I say that even though I know that disgruntled buyers shout louder than those who are satisfied.

    And that may be something that D-Link itself needs to bear in mind when it carries out product testing prior to launching hardware.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bull Dog
    Note to D-link: (If you want a favorable review,) never send your product to Hexus.net to be reviewed unless is works perfectly.
    Not true!

    I absolutely can be bribed.

    Trouble is, no one's ever been willing to pay the price that would be required.

    But that's understandable.

    If I was a manufacturer, I wouldn't pay £10 billion either.

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    Very Disappointing

    How very disappointing - would be ideal if this was at a level where my mum or dad could set it up but it's at a level where even techies struggle. This is not going to help skype win the voip at home (as opposed to voip on a computer at home) market. The former should work even when the computer is off cos most people don't have silent computers permanently on in their living rooms....

    From reading around the internet, I gather that skype (which i use myself) does not conform to the SIPS (i think) protocol which almost all other voip providers do. Apparently skype does some proprietary node networking thing to connect to other users. The advantage of this is that it almost always connects and can traverse peoples' firewalls without them having to set up port forwarding etc (ie my dad can install and run it without needing help and giving up) but the disadvantage is that a call from London to London might be routed via Acapulco (apparently this sort of thing does actually happen frequently enough) which might deteriorate line quality and result in dropped calls.

    Other voip providers on SIPS don't have this advantage so need to set up routers properly etc. However, this protocol does apparently allow voip phones to be plugged straight into routers (once set up properly) and be 'always on' even when computer is off, which is exactly what voip should be about if it is to compete with traditional pstn phone.

    Also, can't quite remember but either one or both of the methods don't allow emergency 999 (or 911 if in states etc) calls to be made due to the way they are routed, so not tempting to drop the old traditional phones just yet!

    Basically, what's the point?! It's all a pain in the arse and voip *still* has a lot of problems to iron out before becoming mainstream, just as the review highlighted. How frustrating and a real shame...

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    Noli,

    Skype is VERY easy to set up - anyone could do - and that's part of the reason why it has been so successful.

    And, generally, I've found that it's pretty reliable when using a headset.

    As for the D-Link - that's easy to set up, too. It's just that it didn't work reliably (did I say, "just"??).

    There are some good background that can be accessed from the links in the review - the Wikipedia one is especially good.

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    I know that Skype is very easy to set up - that is not my point. It is a Skype-phone-using-VOIP-connected-to-your-router-which-works-even-when-your-PC-is-turned-off" that is difficult to make work (ok - maybe it has an easy set up but if it is unreliable, then that's just rubbish - goold old fashioned PTSN works 99.8% of time - skype phone 80% of time - I know which I prefer...)

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