Please create an account to participate in the Slashdot moderation system

 



Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Cellphones Communications Wireless Networking

Best Phone For a Wi-Fi-Only Location? 289

Posted by kdawson
from the cutting-the-tower dept.
bendodge writes "I am planning on heading to a university in a remote area with very poor cellular service (the only signal is spotty Verizon voice, no data). However, the entire campus is thoroughly blanketed in Wi-Fi. I am trying to find the best and most economical 'Wi-Fi phone' or else hack one together. Belkin/Netgear sell what is essentially a portable Skype device for $180. These folks recommend outfitting an iPod Touch with a mic and VoIP apps. I am looking for something that can make and receive calls to and from landlines with incoming call notification. What experiences have Slashdot readers had and what would you recommend?"
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Best Phone For a Wi-Fi-Only Location?

Comments Filter:
  • Android (Score:5, Informative)

    by SausageOfDoom (930370) on Monday June 28, 2010 @03:20AM (#32714250)

    It may be a bit more expensive, but you could get any android phone and run sipdroid through a SIP provider of your choice, then forward your mobile number to your SIP line. Then you have the advantage that you can seamlessly switch to a mobile network when you go off-campus.

    • Re:Android (Score:5, Informative)

      by bemymonkey (1244086) on Monday June 28, 2010 @03:34AM (#32714302)

      Another vote for Sipdroid here.

      Works flawlessly on WiFi as well as 3G, and the call quality through PBXes.org is landline-crystal-clear.

      • by rwa2 (4391) *

        Bought an unlocked (1st gen) MyTouch 3G for my wife on Craigslist for $200 a few months ago. You could upgrade the firmware to Cyanogenmod (or just wait for the "push" update that's been due "just next month" for the past 3-4 months) and you'll be all set. No need to get a data plan (or even a voice plan, for that matter) if you just use wifi.

      • Re:Android (Score:5, Informative)

        by nilbog (732352) on Monday June 28, 2010 @09:50AM (#32716566) Homepage Journal

        If you go this route definitely check out Google Voice and Airplane Mode Wi-Fi Tool. Google voice will integrate 100% with the phone so you can use the regular dialer, send and receive sms, etc. all over WiFi. Combined with sipdroid you can't go wrong.

        Airplane Mode Wi-Fi Tool is a simple app that will allow you to turn off your cellular radio, 3g services, bluetooth, everything EXCEPT Wi-Fi essentially. That way you won't waste your battery on unnecessary radios.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by SenseiLeNoir (699164)

      OR if you can get hold of a second hand Nokia N95 (and some other series 60 phones which have WiFi), they can usually run SKype, and often have SIP built in, and can run without a SIM card, if you have that requirement.

      • by evilandi (2800)

        Or use Fring which you can download to the N95 and countless other J2ME phones. I use it all the time abroad, it connects over TCP/IP to my SIP account.

    • Re:Android (Score:4, Informative)

      by religious freak (1005821) on Monday June 28, 2010 @05:46AM (#32714798)
      Hell, I don't know what this Sipdroid is at all. All I do is hit the "use wifi" checkbox on my vanilla G1 phone and it works fairly well (though I've had a few times I've had to turn the phone off and back on when moving repeatedly between cell and wifi zones).

      Go G1 and hit the checkmark if you don't have the time to spend on customization. G1s should probably also be somewhat cheap now too, I would think.
      ...
      Oh, I should note that I only use one wifi zone (my house - with authentication and encryption). I don't just hop around easily from Starbucks to the mall to wherever. I'd imagine that type of thing would involve config for each individual location. Assuming your campus has the same network name/config, I'd imagine a one time config would also do for you.
      • Re:Android (Score:5, Informative)

        by ZeroExistenZ (721849) on Monday June 28, 2010 @07:27AM (#32715184)

        Hell, I don't know what this Sipdroid is at all.All I do is hit the "use wifi" checkbox

        SIP [wikipedia.org] is a protocol to make phonecalls and videocalls over the internet.

        Before cheap cellphone plans, before Wifi even, people wanted to use their existing connections to also make phonecalls and so was SIP born. As well the need to program PBX's (telephone switchboards, call forwarding, answering machines, option menu's, ...) in companies for internal telephone traffic -without using an expensive solution from a telecom operator. These things all use SIP (probably the phone sitting on your desk is connected to a PBX redirecting calls and initiazing SIP-based calls.)

        The SIPdroid on Android thus, is a client using the internet to make phonecalls and allows you to set up a telephony switchboard with all the options you might want (research Asterisk or TrixBox) without paying a single connection-cost to your telephony provider. And allows you to transfer incoming calls to your home (say you have a telephone number hooked to your PBX) to your cellphone if your cellphone is connected to the internet. (wifi, mobile).

        As added funbonus, you can programm your PBX (Asterisk) to automate things in your house (domotica) triggered by say a telephone menu and operate your house by your phone and secure it through a obligatory SIP-connection (takes username and password).

        Plenty of reasons to want to run a SIP-client on your Android.

        • Re:Android (Score:4, Informative)

          by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 28, 2010 @08:58AM (#32715956)

          a protocol to make phonecalls and videocalls over the internet

          SIP is a lot more than that. SIP is to phone calls and video calls what HTTP is to Amazon.com. As it's name implies, it's used to initiate sessions. Could be a video call. Could be a VoIP call. Could be a shared whiteboard app or remote desktop/application viewing/sharing. It's just a clearly labeled container. You might want to put "VoIP" on the container. I might want to put "Instant Message" on the container. The container can contain whatever it is that the two (or more) bubbas on either end decide they can both understand. Wicked, now we have initiated a session. Punt! As an example, a video call between two (or more) people would be initiated by SIP - but once initiated the actual voice/video is RTP and handled by whatever is supposed to handle RTP.

          Sure, sure it came about as a byproduct of some guys wanting to dump POTS Central but that wasn't (isn't) it's purpose. Signaling. It's all about signaling.

          I liked your post. It was informative. I'm just making sure folks know SIP is not JUST phone/video calls. The Wikipedia link doesn't do SIP any kind of justice. But I love your shout-out to Askerisk and your example of it's potential. Good stuff there.

    • Nokia options (Score:5, Informative)

      by SpzToid (869795) on Monday June 28, 2010 @06:27AM (#32714916)

      I refer to the Nokia VOIP compatibility list a lot for times like these, and the URL that has always worked is (I hope the pages works again, soon):

      VoIP support in Nokia devices - Forum Nokia Wiki
      http://www.forum.nokia.com/main/resources/technologies/voice_over_IP/voip_support_in_nokia_devices.html [nokia.com]

      For clients, family, & friends, I always pointed out any Nokia phone on that list handled SIP natively. However it seems today Nokia is updating their site, and that URL is unavailable. I really hope the page comes back!

      My own 'ancient' N95 with a 2nd forward-facing camera (needs Fring, but then I'm making skype-compatible video calls) does pretty everything the recent 2 generations of iPhone do. Only the newer iPhone shoots in higher resolution is all. But multitasking, SIP, tethering, and A2DP bluetooth (wireless phone/music headset), I've been enjoying all that stuff for several years earlier than Apple said I could.

      My favorite app is SportTracker, which allows voice-enabled AGPS, or sans-data-plan then GPS navigation (that's 2 map apps, multitasking nicely). I can ride my bike, listen to tunes, a computer lady tells me when to turn, the music fades out softly for incoming-headset SIP calls. And I can upload my trip to Nokia's SportsTracker server, for social networking/exercise, w/ Gmaps, etc. Nokia is even coming out with a 15-20 euro bike-powered-charger; I can't wait. GPS wants juice. The N79 even records Polar heart tracking data, and uploads it along with any auto-geo-tagged MP3 playlist to SportsTracker.

      The N900 _IS_ a linux computer, and I'll upgrade to it, or its successor, once my N95 dies, but so far, so very good. Nokia does great with software updates too; (over the ownership of this device, Nokia has impressed me this way; it is so much better than when it was new)

      Please Be Advised:

      Forum Nokia’s websites will be offline for a few hours today while we complete website enhancements.
      All Forum Nokia sites will be unavailable during this time, including:

      Forum.Nokia.com
      Forum Nokia Community (Discussion Boards, Wiki, & Blogs)
      Forum Nokia Developer Programs, including PRO, PRO Accelerator, and Launchpad
      Forum Nokia Champion
      Please come back soon as we will be up and running again shortly.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by kraemate (1065878)

      I'm sorry- but that's the worst buying advice on this page. Android doesn't even support http proxyies - and hence is utterly useless in most offices and universities.
       

  • by b34n (1754344)
    The Belkin WiFi phone sounds like a good idea. The trouble with using an iPod touch would be the battery life with WiFi on. I've tried to browse for an hour so on my iPod Touch and it severely drains the battery. Why get a music player/gaming device if what you really need is a phone? Yup. Get the Belkin phone and subscribe to SkypeOut. I've been pretty satisfied with the call experience even when I've made international calls. Safest way to go IMO.
    • by Ford Prefect (8777) on Monday June 28, 2010 @03:51AM (#32714390) Homepage

      The Belkin WiFi phone sounds like a good idea.

      No, it's not - I've got that exact one and it's shitting terrible. 'Unstable' is an understatement - it'll randomly lock-up and not take calls whenever it feels like it, refuses to connect to random WiFi devices that work perfectly with everything else, run out of battery after not really doing anything, crash whenever it feels like it, suffer from poor audio quality (and, until a firmware update vaguely fixed it, terrible echo), you name it...

      Wondering if it was a new model, or at least the old model with updated firmware - I checked the downloads. The latest firmware's from 2007, and from experience I can tell you is still as buggy as anything.

      My second-generation iPod Touch running Skype felt like a wondrous device from the distant future in comparison - that is, until I left it on a bus. Also, it wouldn't really act as a phone - no Skype running in the background, and so on...

      I make do with a laptop these days.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by antifoidulus (807088)
        Actually nowadays you CAN run Skype(and other VOIP software) in the background.
      • by ElephanTS (624421)

        Totally agree. Never, never buy anything from Belkin - they are shockingly bad in most of what they do.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by nyctopterus (717502)

      Can's say how it would perform as a phone, but my experience of the battery life on an iPod Touch is very good. I get hours (~6) of more or less continuous browsing on mine, and that's with the screen on and actively rendering pages every few minutes as well as WiFi (obviously).

    • by Lumpy (12016)

      It's not that phone is crap. I had one and unless its on it's charger for 90% of the time, it dies.

      Bad phone, garbage design. Useless for a phone you carry away from the charger across a campus.

  • by rxmd (205533) on Monday June 28, 2010 @03:23AM (#32714266) Homepage

    When I was in a similar situation I simply got a used Symbian phone (in my case a Nokia E60 for some 50 EUR, the most important thing is there to get one with the S60 operating system.). You should be able to use that with Skype for Symbian, or alternatively with fring if your phone is not supported directly. Works well.

    The E-series Nokias had the advantage is that they also included a SIP client out of the box so you weren't limited to Skype. Also there is a Python programming environment if you're into that sort of thing.

    Unlike the iPod Touch it also has the advantage that it works as a phone when you're somewhere where there actually is cellular reception, or when you go abroad.

    • by Apotekaren (904220) on Monday June 28, 2010 @03:25AM (#32714272)
      The E-series is a great solution, or if you want a more geeky toy, the N900. Prepare to charge the phone daily though, if you keep the WiFi active with Skype online all day.
      • IF you have the cash I would definitely go for the N900. Both skype and sip work perfectly over wifi (and 3g for that matter) without the need for separate apps. The phone just works identical for Skype, SIP and normal GSM. (Leading to weird situations where you pick up the phone never realizing it's a Skype call, while the other party assumes you're at home behind a PC...)
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by dr00p (56154)

        My N95 is an amazing SIP device. The native SIP implementation means that a SIP call behaves exactly like a normal call. Just dial the number as usual, just choose internet call instead of voice call. It works over wifi and 3G, almost seamless.
        As for NAT, I never had any problems with it. It has NAT transversal support.

        As for cheap, you can always buy one second hand.

      • by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 28, 2010 @04:32AM (#32714524)

        I'll second this. Got my n900 a few months back for the exact same reason as the OP. Now I am connected continously to a number of VOIP and other services receiving calls and starting them without hardly knowing the difference. It all just works.

        • Another metoo here - the way N900 handles Skype and VOIP is very nice.

          But seriously, be aware of the battery drain. N900 lasts for a day with WiFi on and with moderate Skype use (always signed in, max. ~2h talktime). And what's annoying it still can't use all the power-saving thingies in WiFi with certain access points so you might have a surprise in some locations with hot phone draining the battery in full speed. The good thing is that it still gets fixes and matures and wifi-related bugs are still being closed.

          And it is still quite expensive. If the only requirement was the wifi and SIP/Skype I would definitely google around for the Nokia E-series (S60 3rd edition, do not bother with older ones) - they tend to have good battery life and Skype and VOIP works - and you don't get the power drain of the N900's large touchscreen and Linux kernel which frankly isn't as mature on the N900 as the Symbian equivelant is regarding to power management.

          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by IICV (652597)

            The N900 is basically a commercially available development model. I wouldn't recommend buying it unless you're willing to go hack around in the terminal a little and maybe do some programming on your own; if you think that the terminal is where you catch your flight, you'll probably be happier with an iPhone or Android or something, honestly.

            On the other hand, if you're willing to do some hacking, the benefits can be enormous. I've got fucking AdblockPro running on my N900's browser - MicroB is just a speci

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by parim (1783676)
      I have to agree with rxmd, the nokia N-series and the E-series have a an amazing sip stack. one more thing, sip has a lot of issues behind a NAT.one more opting is the nokia n900, it has a front facing webcam and has complete Skype integration.
      • by Tx (96709)

        Another Nokia option to consider - I have the Nokia XpressMusic 5530, while it doesn't have the SIP client, Skype runs great on it, and it's actually a great little budget touchscreen phone. No 3G or GPS (that's why it's cheap), but Google maps works with cell-tower location pretty well, and the screen is just about big enough for usable web browsing. Battery life sucks with wifi on continuously though.

        • by Luckyo (1726890)

          The "daddy model" 5800XM would probably be a better choice, as it has 3g, GPS, bigger screen and front camera, as well as bundled 8GB memory card, while not costing much more then 5530 due to its age.

          And you can make video calls with it if that's your thing via skype on it (use fring to log into your skype account and you can place skype video calls through fring - the only thing that native skype client doesn't yet support)

    • I agree, I have an E65 and it's fantastic. Lots of connectivity options (Wifi, Bluetooth, 3G) and it's rather cheap as well these days.

    • by horza (87255)

      Another vote for the Nokia (in my case E71). I wouldn't use the mobile Skype app as last time I checked they charged for pure VoIP calls. However you can use any SIP provider and there are numerous VoIP apps. Fring [fring.com] is worth checking out, does things like Skype, MSN Messenger, ICQ, Google Talk, SIP and Twitter all in one go. I used to use Gizmo5 until it was bought out by Google and they withdrew it from the public. Truphone [truphone.com] is also not bad, but voice calls only.

      Phillip.

    • I have an E71 which is excellent as a *phone* and a gateway for tethering a laptop - 3G and quad band GSM, wifi and bluetooth... as another poster says, it has native SIP client, you can run fring to access Skype as well as IM services.

      I recommend installing Opera Mini because the standard web browser is a bit basic - but it is functional.

      The built-in GPS is v useful - free mapping from Nokia; I quite like the Sportstracker app too. There's some fun games too.

      Accessories such as car chargers are
  • iPod Touch (Score:4, Informative)

    by Manip (656104) on Monday June 28, 2010 @03:24AM (#32714270)

    The iPod Touch ships with a microphone on the 3GS and above. It is built into the Apple earphones. You can download Skype for free. I would use that but only if you need an iPod / MP3 player anyway. If you don't then you could pick up a Netbook for the same price that can do a lot more...

    • And that's the problem there. That only applies to the 32 Gb or better model. The 8 Gb is really second generation, and Apple curiously doesn't have a 16 Gb flash model.

    • given the recent iPhone 4 release there are probably a lot of people who'd sell their old 3GS or 3G for cheaper than an iPod Touch costs
      • Don't count on it. There's still plenty of demand for no-contract iPhones, even if they are last-gen.

  • Nokia N900 (Score:5, Informative)

    by rocketpants (1095431) on Monday June 28, 2010 @03:25AM (#32714274)
    Comes pre-installed with Skype, and it's trivial to set up any other SIP provider. A little on the expensive side perhaps, but you get an excellent Debian-based computer with it.
  • T-Mobile UMA (Score:3, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 28, 2010 @03:26AM (#32714278)

    Get a T-Mobile UMA capable phone. Most of their blackberry line is compatible with UMA calling. UMA makes phone calls over WiFi

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Unlicensed_Mobile_Access

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by BBCWatcher (900486)
      T-Mobile's UMA-enabled phones do look like good choices. Their current line-up of UMA phones includes the BlackBerry Bold 9700, Curve 8520, and the Nokia E73 Mode. Shop around at T-Mobile directly (including any campus discounts), Wirefly.com, Amazon.com, etc.
    • by acomj (20611) on Monday June 28, 2010 @09:33AM (#32716380) Homepage

      I have a Nokia 6301. Its very small and just a phone (it can email and do very limited web surfing.. although its not pretty). It does hop onto wifi and make calls on wifi when it can. Works well, I have t-mobile, I think they call it "hot spot" calling or some such thing.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    I've had one for almost half a year and have used it for Skype calls quite a bit. VoIP is integrated in a nice way and it's a really great device in general.

  • The google search term you're looking for is "UDP". That's one industry term for wifi calling. Most blackberries sold for tmobile since 2008 have UDP. An older BB curve (8300?) is less than $100 new and ~$70 used, and is easily unlocked, and readily accepts SIM cards.
     
    Bonus: It also works as a regular cell phone off campus!

    • So... these "UDP Phones" magically convert WiFi into cell signals? Or why else would you need the SIM?

      Or are you talking about SIP via UDP?

  • by yyxx (1812612) on Monday June 28, 2010 @03:33AM (#32714300)

    The dedicated Skype or VoIP phones are junk in my experience: hard to configure, unreliable, etc. They usually can't deal with browser-based configuration, limit your choice of VoIP providers, etc.

    My recommendation: get an Android phone, Nokia Symbian phone, or an iPod touch. All of them support VoIP, including Skype. The Android phone is the better choice but a bit more expensive; it will also allow you to make phone calls when you travel. Nokia phones with WiFi are cheaper, have better battery life, and also have great browsers, but the UI is bit clunky. The iPod Touch has a good screen and lots of apps, but the only way you can call is with a headset.

    (I've used all of them myself.)

  • Have you considered getting a T-Mobile phone with UMA? It's certainly not the cheapest option with standard mobile pricing of ~$30/mo and ~$5 of various taxes, but you have the added advantage of being able to have a "normal" phone when you're outside of Wi-Fi coverage.

    If you're looking for the best value, you can get an Ipevo Wi-Fi Skype phone for ~$140 (a bit less than Netgear/Belkin; works fine). Add $3/mo unlimited US calling and $30 for SkypeIn so landlines can call you, and your total cost is $66/yr

  • by Sonic McTails (700139) on Monday June 28, 2010 @03:38AM (#32714328)

    I recommend any T-Mobile phone that is UMA (Wifi calling) enabled. UMA phones essentially do GSM-over-IP, so when the phone has a wifi signal, your normal phone number encoded on the SIM card will ring, and you can send and receive calls and texts normally. Most T-Mobile BlackBerries, and a few other phones can do this, its listed as Wifi Calling on the spec sheets. You can also take your phone and use it as normal on T-Mobile network, and then have it hop on wifi when you move into range seemlessly.

    (UMA is not SIP, it works very well over low bandwidth links, and I've had little trouble with it)

    If T-Mobile doesn't work for you, a Symbian or Android phone with a VoIP client using something like sipgate might be a good choice.

    • Why, for the love of God, is this not a feature on every WiFi enabled phone available on the market today? Sounds wonderful...

      • by Cato (8296)

        The answer is that consumers don't know about UMA, and most mobile operators are still very cellular focused, and UMA is only one approach (though for my money it works a lot better than some of the alternatives).

        Mobile operators are seeing something of a bandwidth crunch, giving rise to the idea of 'data offload': put as much traffic as possible on WiFi, home broadband, etc - UMA is effectively 'voice offload' which is complementary, and is great for people with poor indoor coverage. Since the more advanc

      • by Lumpy (12016)

        AT&T sells a device that acts as a cell tower in your home, sends your calls through the internet... They charge you $199.00 for this wonderful device.

        and then charge you to use it.

        Isn't that nice of them?

    • Not to kibitz... only intending constructive criticism. But the word is "seamless". "Seemless" means something else altogether.
  • I own a Belkin (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Dee Ann_1 (1731324)
    I own a Belkin WIFI Skype phone, I used it as a home phone with Skype in/out and in general it's pretty neat BUT, it drops calls, a lot. It drops calls almost as bad as AT&T.

    I have a good solid WIFI system and Skype on my iPhone via my WIFI works without flaw. I do not have WIFI issues.

    The Belkin randomly drops calls even when I am within 6 feet of the base and it also randomly locks up and randomly reboots.

    If you can put up with that, it's neat. If you require flawless service, skip the Belki
    • by Lumpy (12016)

      Stop buying consumer junk.

      Hitachi Cable WirelessIP5000 decent quality 802.11 SIP phone.

      works great, good battery life that works all day IF you are in a solid wifi signal all day.

  • I'll add my voice to those recommending UMA. (Not just T-mobile, though. It works on Orange, too.)

    My Nokia 6301 has it, and I recently spent a week in a cottage in the middle of nowhere.

    No mobile signal from Orange, but the cottage had WiFi, and I could make and receive calls using that.

    • UMA, definitely. Then you're not stuck with a Wi-Fi only device if you ever move location, or god forbid, take the phone off campus.

      Not an exhaustive list, but here's some phones with UMA in the description [gsmarena.com]
  • Needs to involve checking with the school's IT department to see if they block SIP or Skype traffic, and whether that blocking is within campus or just on the boundary with the internet.

    It'd be a shame to buy a nice new android phone and then be limited to the phone in your room because the traffic is blocked. (Or - have to tunnel your SIP traffic in violation of the TOS and get suspended from school)

    • Needs to involve checking with the school's IT department to see if they block SIP or Skype traffic, and whether that blocking is within campus or just on the boundary with the internet.

      It'd be a shame to buy a nice new android phone and then be limited to the phone in your room because the traffic is blocked. (Or - have to tunnel your SIP traffic in violation of the TOS and get suspended from school)

      Yeh. Back when I was in college they blocked a lot to prevent people from straining the network.

      - Online gaming was out of the question, save for LAN. Period.

      - Getting VOIP to work was a pain: some didn't work at all, others needed heavy tweaking, others had limited functionality, etc.

      And I think the WiFi was even *more* restricted.

      Granted, things are probably different now both culturally as well as VOIP tech. But it's definitely something you should look into first.

    • by CXI (46706)
      You might also have issues with connecting to the wireless network. Some schools have web portals which require you to connect with a browser and provide credentials to get connectivity. That's not going to work to well for incoming calls. Other schools require certificate based authentication which might not work with certain devices.
  • Ipevo SO-20 (Score:3, Informative)

    by Bitmanhome (254112) <(moc.xobop) (ta) (namtib)> on Monday June 28, 2010 @04:17AM (#32714480)

    Weird name, but works well. Round $130 normally.

    http://www.frys.com/product/5859653 [frys.com]

    Reviewers seem to find the Belkin and Linksys units flaky, but the Ipevo gets good reviews. We have one. Don't use it much, but it's worked everywhere we've tried.

    You could also hack together something with an old Windows CE unit (i.e. Dell Axim x51v has the power, but Wifi it a bit weak.)

    Or maybe get a tablet PC (Fujitsu U810, Oqo) with a headset, optionally bluetooth. They use a normal OS (Windows, Linux, even Mac OS) not the wacky cut-down ones on those other machines.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 28, 2010 @04:19AM (#32714484)

    1. Belkin WiFi Phone... I got one of these a few years ago. The sound quality is not too bad, but the battery doesn't last terribly long, and more importantly, the sound volume was too quiet. I had to use a headset with it most of the time (and it doesn't support bluetooth).
    2. iPod Touch. You need a iPod Touch 3G (the older ones don't support microphones), and then you will have to use a headset. I have one of these, and I use it some of the time. If you want to use it only for outgoing calls, it's fine. If you want to receive incoming calls, then you'd better leave skype running, in the foreground, and make sure the screen doesn't lock (not very realistic). Some of this may be improving with OS 4, but I wouldn't hold my breath. Alternatively, you can get an iPhone, and just use Skype or your favorite app on there, since it has the mike built in.
    3. UCCom (Starcom?) WiFi SIP phone. This was like #1, except it wasn't skype specific, it was locked to uhm.. Vonage. It sucked in most every way. The volume was quiet, the battery life was short, and the display and menus were primitive.
    4. Sony Mylo 2 - This is billed as a "personal communicator", but it if really a glorified Skype phone. They are pricey new, but you can probably get a used one cheap these days... It can auto-connect to WiFi (of course), and auto-launch skype, and auto-log in (of course). It has a touch-screen, and you can dial normally with Skype-Out. The volume is reasonable, and it comes with a headset as well. The battery life is pretty good, and it has some other apps (like Google talk) as well. Most importantly, it comes with a cradle (or if not, you can buy one separately), so you can put it somewhere and have it charge and wait for calls when you're not using it - like a normal phone. Mo more fishing for USB charging adapters, etc. I have one and it's been hooked up and in constant use for about 2 years. It does a good job of staying signed into Skype and reconnecting WiFi/Skype automatically when there's an issue. Most reviews of the Mylo say it sucks, but that's because they were rating the web browser or other features which, frankly, do suck. (Or because the reviewer didn't know it was WiFi only and wondered why it wouldn't work when there was no signal). As a Skype phone, I haven't seen better. I also take it with me when I go overseas, so I can use it at friend's houses and random places like Starbucks.

    Note: First, I am not making an account just to post this (hence the AC), but since I am a heavy user of this type of thing he is asking for, please mod this up to help the OP.

  • by richy freeway (623503) * on Monday June 28, 2010 @04:39AM (#32714544)
    Ideal for Wifi use, cos they don't work on the cell networks properly
  • ...preferably rooted (HTC G1/Dream is fine), plus Sipdroid [sipdroid.org].

  • by Cato (8296) on Monday June 28, 2010 @05:31AM (#32714732)

    See http://nokiaexperts.com/tmobile-nokia-e73-mode-uma-wifi-calling-killer-functionality/ [nokiaexperts.com] for an example - UMA is a way of having 'standard cellular voice' (GSM based) delivered over WiFi - it's a bit like VoIP in that your GSM voice call goes over IP, but unlike VoIP in that it is not using SIP or Skype, and instead you roam between WiFi and GSM areas seamlessly (useful when off campus).

    UMA WiFi phones are mostly for people who go between WiFi and GSM - one huge advantage is that the phone can automatically turn off the radio it's not using i.e. turn off GSM when WiFi is used. This saves a lot of battery life. Another big advantage is that you have one phone number and one phone service across GSM and WiFi, which is useful when you are off campus, and of course GSM mode will use less battery. T-Mobile offer this in the US, see link above. http://www.umatoday.com/ [umatoday.com] has general info.

    UMA phones are thin on the ground but it's a useful feature - quite a few Blackberries support this. If you don't need UMA, almost any Nokia E-series phone with Symbian S60 would be fine. The Nokia phones are not the highest tech but they are very reliable, which is good if this is your only phone on campus - the E71 also includes GPS and other nice things, and I got it free with a great $40/month package. The N-series are more consumer oriented and also run Symbian, apart from the N900 which is Maemo.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Cato (8296)

      However, do check the quality of T-Mobile's UMA implementation and how UMA works in practice - some don't seem so good: http://www.orangeproblems.co.uk/mobiles/viewtopic.php?p=1409 [orangeproblems.co.uk]

    • by quetwo (1203948)

      I would second the UMA option. On our campus we have OK cell reception, but if you go into any basements or the center of the buildings, very rarely is there any good reception. Kicking on UMA with my BlackBerry allows me to continue my conversations. What is really nice is it will 'roam' between the WiFi and Cell, choosing whichever has the strongest signal. It does this automatically.

      If you have a newer BlackBerry (with OS5 or better), you can 'train' the device to login to a captive portal, if your s

    • by Cato (8296)

      The Nokia E73 has UMA built-in, most other Symbian phones don't seem to have this.

      Android doesn't have UMA yet - you can get an Android app from Kineto Wireless ('Smart WiFi' is their term), or you can ask Google nicely to support this in the OS: see http://umatoday.blogspot.com/2010/05/stand-up-and-be-counted.html [blogspot.com]

      Blackberry seems to have the best UMA support.

    • I would absolutely not purchase anything without seeing how it works on campus first. There should be enough people around with enough different options to get a feel for things over the first couple of weeks (or less). My advice prior to that (and afterwards) is to get a Google Voice number and use that as your number - that way you can have it forward to whatever number you end up with, get text messages via email, etc. If you decide long-term to move away from GV you can do so after you have a phone that
  • This setup works flawlessly in most settings.
    Pros:
    Works like a normal cellphone with dialing options etc.
    Use your phone lists etc
    Synchronizes with PC apps
    Good range

    Cons:
    Have to preconfigure all hotspots.
    Will not hop between hotspots during same conversation
    Not intuitive network configuration. Phone jumps to 3G unless you dig down to the setting to force it to wifi only.

  • I am looking for something that can make and receive calls to and from landlines with incoming call notification.

    You'll have problems tunneling thru the marketing, which in the telecom industry is slathered on very thickly with a spatula, kind of like paint on a Chinese made machine tool. A WIFI phone? Oh you mean a Skype phone. Or do you mean UMA or UBA or whatever the heck? Its more formally known as a confuse-opoly, where the market colludes to confuse the customers into being ripped off. Be careful, those guys aren't much above used car salesmen when it comes to ethics and marketing.

    That said:

    I've bought stuf

  • If you're really after low cost after about $200 use a landline. $24/month * 9 months. The phone is under $10 in the drug store electronics isle
  • They worked fairly well. An iPod Touch would be cool, but you'd have to keep the Skype (or whatever VOIP app) up all the time. (Until they are able to possibly change it for the new iOS4.)

    Good luck with it.

  • Before "wifi cellphones", you had "wifi telephones" for VOIP dialing or connecting to a PBX

    They are cheap and you can get them off of ebay for 50-70usd a piece. I have one laying around I could send you as I'm not using it anymore (my wet dream was a wifi cellphone with API - and have this now with Android. Rendering my Wif-connecting Linksys redundant.)

    But I strongly advise you to invest a bit more and get the joys of an Android phone and open alot of experimenting possibilities; those prices are dropping

  • Get a Nokia E Series (Score:3, Informative)

    by mritunjai (518932) on Monday June 28, 2010 @07:15AM (#32715122) Homepage

    If you can, get a Nokia E72 unlocked. If you can't get the E72, get any E series Nokia phone (I have E71).

    Reason for recommendation:

    * WiFi roaming is painless

    * 1500mAh battery: WiFi *drains* battery. You absolutely need the phone with largest battery pack or you're looking at charging it twice a day. A large screen android/iPhone is fun for a week till you get tired of looking at battery bars. Nokia will last whole 3 days on GSM and will get you through the day on WiFi.

    * Integrated SIP with same dialing/receiving experience as a GSM call

    * VoIP apps: Pretty much every VoIP app is available including Fring, Talkonaut and Skype apart from integrated SIP

    * Excellent sound quality

    Cons:

    * Small screen by today's standards (you get battery life in return)
    * Abysmal inbuilt browser (you can have Opera Mobile and Opera Mini instead)
    * It's not hip in US (however, if you want nerd points it'll score many - run wordpress on your phone with downloadable port of Apache2, MySQL4 and PHP5 - no kidding)
    * Custom development is painful, but you get everything and the kitchen sink to write apps for the device (Python, Java, C++, ......)
    * No touchscreen

  • recommendation (Score:5, Insightful)

    by vlm (69642) on Monday June 28, 2010 @07:18AM (#32715138)

    "I am planning on heading to a university ...

    (deleted plan to spend hundreds of dollars to talk on the phone)

    ... what would you recommend?"

    My other post gave a technical recommendation to answer your exact question.

    My "real" recommendation is your priorities are totally screwed up. Hundreds of dollars equals about a hundred six-packs of tolerable beer or bottles of cheap booze, and college girls like parties with alcohol. Hundreds of dollars equals around a hundred or so keg parties (you know, a plastic cup costs $5, and the keg is over there surrounded by lonely college girls). Trust me that "traditional dating" of college girls is somewhat cheaper than post-college girls, so hundreds of dollars equals at least dozens of traditional movie and dinner dates. Hundreds of dollars equals some nice wardrobe additions, and college girls like a well dressed stylish man (but don't go all overboard). Hundreds of dollars would easily pay for a year long gym membership, and college girls like a healthy looking guy and they like to talk to guys at the gym. You may notice a common theme to my numerous examples of better ways to spend your money. Now decades later, you can reminisce about all the fun you had with your numerous girlfriends in those wild and crazy college years, or you can have an obsolete broken phone with a dead battery in a box in the basement, your choice... And if you're trying to meet guys, my advice stays the same, with different pronoun genders or whatever.

  • Solution: Land Line (Score:2, Informative)

    by WoodburyMan (1288090)
    I'm going to suggest the ultra low tech solution and suggest a good old fashion land line. With a modern cordless you can go your dorm's floor and perhaps one above and bellow with ease with it. The problem is if you use a call over WiFi at a university, you will have to stay where you are for the duration of the call. I had the same issue two or three years ago. The university had just a series of repeaters / access points with same SSID / Chanel lined up, and if more than one was in range (as they usuall
  • by jjohn (2991) on Monday June 28, 2010 @07:25AM (#32715176) Homepage Journal

    I have a 32GB ipod touch with skype. I bought the skypeIn service which gives me a real landline number. When people call that number, I pay a per minute charge. I buy time in $25 increments. I would say on a busy month, I go through that unit of credit.

    Since it serves as a second phone, I often keep the ipod docked to my laptop which is plugged into a wall scocket. Battery life is an issue, but overall I like my solution. I wish I could get 3G service for the iPod.

  • Samsung Omnia i910 (Score:3, Informative)

    by DirkDaring (91233) on Monday June 28, 2010 @07:42AM (#32715282)

    Samsung Omnia i910 (might be a new version out by now). Mine rocks. The wifi in it is top notch.

  • iPod Touch 3G (Score:3, Informative)

    by Tacoman667 (988162) on Monday June 28, 2010 @07:43AM (#32715294)
    The new iOS 4.0 software allows the iPod touch to stay connected to WiFi even when sleeping just as the iPhone stays connected to 3G. This was done because of the "muti-tasking" included in the latest build. I believe Skype has already released an update to run in the "background" on the iOS 4.0 software or will be releasing it soon.
  • Used iPhone (Score:4, Interesting)

    by vvaduva (859950) on Monday June 28, 2010 @08:03AM (#32715430)

    Why not get a used 3G iphone? They are dirt cheap now...unlock it, put a prepaid AT&T card in it if you so desire, or just put skype on it if you want to use WiFi only.

  • Battery life is key. (Score:3, Informative)

    by Above (100351) on Monday June 28, 2010 @08:04AM (#32715434)

    For reasons I do not understand using WiFi takes a lot more juice than using the cellular network. While many small devices, like a cell phone or iPod touch can do SIP, they get really hot and burn battery really fast. I would not consider any of them usable as a general purpose solution if you want reasonable talk time.

    I don't know much about dedicated WiFi phones, there are some out there and they may be good choices. However, due to the battery issue, perhaps an iPad? The larger form factor provides a much larger battery. The same SIP apps that work on the Touch will work on the iPad. You might like it for other reasons too. :)

  • T-Mobile Blackberry (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Todd1 (149242)

    I'm on my second T-Mobile Blackberry (Bold 9700) that has this capability, and they work great for WiFi calling. I work out of my basement, and there weren't a lot of options for cell reception. I don't subscribe to their WiFi calling, which means calls use my minutes, but they have a $10/mo plan for unlimited calls over WiFi.

  • by someones1 (1580023) on Monday June 28, 2010 @08:42AM (#32715742)
    Before you make ANY decision, it would be prudent to speak directly to the school's computer services department to make sure that your device will be able to use wifi there. Most schools don't just throw up a mesh of hotspots with a simple password. Some require all sorts of authentication procedures, some disallow all devices except xxxxxx, etc, etc. At my undergrad years ago when stylus handhelds were all the rage, I inquired about setting one up on their wireless network. The answer: not supported. Nowadays, and especially at a small school, they may be more willing to work with you. Just sayin', don't buy anything until you're sure that you can use it there.
  • Any smart phone with a SIP application and an asterisk box you set up yourself would probably be the most flexible solution. Android phones can use the Sipdroid application, Nokia smart phones may have it built in (The E70 and E90 communicators do for sure) and I think that windows mobile phones should have an SIP application as well.

    You'd need a machine with a predictable IP address to run your asterisk server on. There are bunches of Voip providers who can provide you with a landline number, so you just

  • by DrewBeavis (686624) on Monday June 28, 2010 @09:24AM (#32716266)
    I work at a university and we've tried to set up the same things on our wifi network. The problem is that in order to use our wifi, you have to log in via a web browser first. Additionally, whenever the device sleeps, it releases the dhcp ip, so when it awakes, you have to redo this process unless you can get on a whitelist. Our departmental devices can, but I doubt they'd allow a student this convenience. You may wish to wait until you get to college and see how the network functions before buying something.

"No job too big; no fee too big!" -- Dr. Peter Venkman, "Ghost-busters"

Working...