3SkypePhone - One week on

Well it has now been one week since we first took delivery of the 3SkypePhone from 3. By now the mass populous should also be "enjoying" their experience with this taste of the future. Last week, I had the pleasure of going up and down to London in the train and decided to take the handset with me. This was an interesting trial.

Arriving at Dumfries early in the morning gave me the pleasure of being within 3G coverage. This allowed me to play with some online video, including watching the BBC News. This was very cool and I thoroughly enjoyed the novelty of it. The quality wasn't anything to write home about and after a while I found myself giving up on watching and just started to listen. This had me thinking, why there wasn't an FM radio on the device.

The phone comes with an onboard camera on it. Not the best of features from both a software and quality point of view. I had the camera set on silent as not too annoy my fellow passengers. This silent setting doesn't seem to stretch as far as the camera operation, as it still made a very loud capture noise when I took a photo. The quality of the photo was not great with a significant delay between clicking it, and it actually taking the picture. I would click and then move the handset away thinking the noise meant it was taken; sadly not. I have many a blurry picture.

Taking pictures outside wasn't much better. I present one here below from Leciester Square in the heart of London, on a very sunny day.

So this is a Skype phone, so let us talk voice. Well Skype on the train, moving in and out of cell towers quickly was a disaster. Dropped calls and very long connections. The chat however proved to be the greatest feature and that was fun having that available throughout the journey.

Upon arrival into Euston, London, I was in a full bar 3G area, and the quality of the Skype call was fantastic. No complaints whatsoever. So it would appear, if you do not have full network coverage in a 3G area, then don't be relying on Skype.

One major drawback of the phone and this only goes to highlight that this handset was not originally designed for Skype is the video. You cannot make a video call with the handset. Okay let me qualify that. YOU CAN make a video a call, you just can't hold a video call.

The camera is on the back of the phone. The display is on the front. See where I am going here? You cannot have a video call with the handset since you can't both watch one another at the same time. Even if just one party is just viewing they can't see themsevles to see they are actually transmitting their own picture, as oppose to maybe their waist or chest! It is a complete nonsense. This is disappointing, since one of the 3 biggest selling points in the old days was video calls. This is not the handset you want for video calls, even when they do support Skype Video.

So now that know the handset was hijacked from another project to become a Skype Phone the biggest Skype hardware feature also pops up with problems - the Skype button. It doesn't always work. If you are inside a browser, then the Skype button does not take you to Skype. So you can't rely on it to quickly jump to you.

There are a number of other problems that have surfaced, that I will address in a later entry. I love the idea and notion of this Skype on the handset, it just needs a little more polish.


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