Consumers in the market for a VoIP phone, specifically a Skype-oriented one, will have a new model to consider next Tuesday when IPEVO begins selling its SOLO phone.
The SOLO is a standalone, desktop corded phone that allows you to make Skype voice calls without a computer. With Skype software pre-installed, the company said the device is designed to let new users make calls right away with minimal setup.
Ed Lucero, vice president and general manager of IPEVO North America, said customers will be able to set up a Skype account when they order the phone at the company's Web site or via a phone order so calls can be made once the device is plugged into any Internet broadband connection.
The SOLO comes with a 90-minute SkypeOut voucher and supports Skype-to-Skype, SkypeIn, SkypeOut and Skype Voicemail features. Per usual, calls to other Skype users are free and low cost rates to mobile and landline phones are available worldwide.
The SOLO faces plenty of competitors in the VoIP and Skype-related phone market, including the likes of Cisco (Linksys), Philips, Netgear and Belkin. But Lucero thinks IPEVO brings a better design sense than some of its more-entrenched competitors and a certain degree of insider's knowledge.
"We're probably the only hardware maker that's also been a Skype service provider," Lucero told InternetNews.com. The San Jose, Calif.-based IPEVO was spun off from the Taiwan-based PC Home, which sells and supports the SOLO there as well as other Skype-related hardware.
Specific features of the $169.99 SOLO include: a one-click speakerphone function for hands-free talking; LED indications for power on/off; missed call, message; mute and speakerphone mode; memory keys for speed dials and a 2.4-inch TFT color LCD display with adjustable viewing angle. IPEVO said the phone is FCC, CE, VCCI, and RoHS compliant.
Lucero indicated the SOLO will be the first of other models and peripheral gears the company has planned. There is already a wireless model in Taiwan. "We started with a corded model for voice quality," he said. Later this year, IPEVO plans to offer a Webcam that can be used for video calls and a "snapshot" feature for sending still images to whomever you're talking to at the click of a button.
As for its larger competitors, Lucero is optimistic IPEVO will find its niche. "Hopefully the fact that these big companies are jumping in says something about the growth of the market," he said. "They'll evangelize the benefits of Skype and the market will grow which is great for us because I think we have a better product."
On Monday, eBay said it would eat about $1.4 billion in third-quarter charges to wrap up its Skype acquisition and establish a more realistic valuation for the Internet VoIP provider's long-term prospects.