NetComm V24W Wi-Fi IP Phone
- Sleek design, easy interface, no PC required
- No charging cradle, WPA2 wireless security not supported, MSN Messenger and IE were hard to use
NetComm's first Wi-Fi-enabled VOIP phone shows plenty of potential with compatibility for Skype and MSN Messenger networks, as well as an integrated Web browser. But with complicated Windows CE software and no support for WPA2 wireless protection protocol, the V24W isn't for everyone.
Price$ 599.50 (AUD)
The V24W is NetComm's second cordless VoIP offering, and the first to offer built-in Wi-Fi. Apart from Skype-based VoIP functionality, the phone also offers an Internet browser and MSN Messenger for all-round Internet use. NetComm markets the phone towards large, open work environments such as construction sites, hospitals and university campuses. Provided these areas have sufficient Wi-Fi coverage, this phone would definitely come in handy as a cordless phone with some mobile abilities.
With a sleek design and a small footprint, the V24 is reminiscent of a mobile phone. It uses a Lithium Ion battery promising 60 hours standby time and three hours talk time, which is more than adequate for the phone's intended use in open areas or around the house. The V24 comes only with a charging cable and a user manual – without a charging cradle however, plugging in and recharging the phone directly through the cable can be a little untidy for a home situation.
The phone has a high quality QVGA 2.2in colour screen and runs on Windows CE. Setting up the software is simple and the unit provides a step-by-step process for choosing date, time, and a wireless access point. The menu provides one-step access to Skype, MSN Messenger, Internet Explorer, Phone Book, as well as system settings. Not to mention the option to view an external webcam through the phone, but this is stand-alone rather than built-in to Skype or MSN Messenger. The V24 itself does not have a webcam, but as this would have increased the unit's size and weight, it's probably better off without.
The phone's inbuilt Wi-Fi is compliant with the 802.11b/g standard, and should work with most routers. However, the phone's encryption capability is limited to WEP and WPA-PSK. The unit's lack of WPA2 encryption could be a problem for home users with new routers, as well as hospitals and universities which utilise this security. However, NetComm has stated that WPA2 support will be included in a future firmware upgrade.
The unit supports three-way conferencing, as well as call forwarding, waiting and caller ID. There is also a 250-entry phone book with an option to add Skype and MSN Messenger contacts for ease of use. The clarity of calls on this particular device would be largely dependent on the strength of the wireless network. Any occasional drops in wireless signal could result in a call drop-out, but we didn't find any issues during testing. Call clarity was suitable and we were able to have a conversation without any problems. Call connection took a little long, though this could be attributed to possible Skype issues.
The customised interface built specifically for the phone functions much like a normal mobile, but the Windows-based software is quite clunky. Skype, MSN Messenger and IE run on the standard Windows interface, and unfortunately this is when you begin to notice how small the screen is once you start using these programs. While NetComm has integrated auto log-in options for Skype and MSN Messenger to make things a little easier, the programs are still quite hard to navigate. Chatting on MSN Messenger is much like typing an SMS on a standard mobile keypad without the dictionary as help, so a normal MSN conversation easily led to cramped fingers on the small keypad.
The V24W is an ambitious phone, and while slightly flawed, it may serve many well as a simple VOIP phone with built-in Wi-Fi.
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Wireless printing from my iPhone was also a handy feature, the whole experience was quick and seamless with no setup requirements - accessed through the default iOS printing menu options.
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