Thursday, 25 September 2008

Kensington Vo200 Internet Phone

(Review) - The Kensington Vo200 Internet phone is basically a cell phone for your notebook. The concept of the Vo200 is to make it easy for people to work with VoIP telephony without complicated installation processes, and it accomplishes that mission well. The Vo200 is really designed for road warriors who prefer to save space, and yet still have the latest in communication devices for those international meetings via Skype or other instant messengers that support voice communication.

The layout of the Vo200 Internet phone is again, simple. It shouldn’t be surprising at all. Kensington’s mantra and existence revolves around simplicity, and the Vo200 is just another illustration of that. The layout of the device is straightforward with three buttons (call pickup, Bluetooth connectivity and power) on the front and a volume rocker on the left spine. The phone is also integrated with two LED lights: yellow for power and blue for Bluetooth.

Connecting the device to the notebook computer is relatively easy, assuming your notebook has onboard Bluetooth connectivity option. If it doesn’t, you will need to purchase a separate Bluetooth adapter to get it to work. Once you have plugged in the adapter, click on the Bluetooth button to put the Vo200 in pairing mode and you should be good to go. Kensington offers a manual and an automatic way of connecting to the notebook. Since we didn’t have Bluetooth option on our notebook, we had to pair the two manually, and the experience was rather pleasing. There’s always the instruction manual that you can consult, though.

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That’s all well and good, but perhaps the most interesting aspect of the Vo200 is its portability factor. The Vo200 is PCMIA slot compatible (and incompatible with ExpressCard slots), which essentially means that all you need to do is slide it in your notebook’s PCMIA slot for storage and recharging. How cool is that? Another interesting thing that we really enjoyed working with was its handset mode (for private conversations) and speakerphone mode (for more transparent calls) with the swing of the base. It was fun to sit back, turn on the speakerphone mode and talk away.

The Vo200 is integrated with echo-free technology for clear calls, which worked well. The audio quality in general was fairly clear with a little bit of disturbance here and there. However, that could be due to the services (Skype and MSN Messenger) we used as our test platform. Our callers could hear us well and vice versa. They also mentioned that unlike cell phones, the call quality sounded a bit more stable and in tune. The battery life is expected to last about 3x hours, which is alright. It’s nothing spectacular, but since you can easily recharge the phone by sliding it in the PCMIA slot anytime, the phone should always be ready.

The price of $89.99 is a little too steep for a product that’s so simple. There are other Internet phones that do a lot more (such as store contact information) for similar price points. Of course, they are not mobile user friendly and act more or less like traditional landline phones. Regardless though, we are already noticing the price at $63.99, so our best recommendation would be wait a month or two to get the best deal on the Vo200. It’s certainly a great product, but the price needs to be brought down to make it irresistible.

Click here to get the latest pricing on Kensington Vo200 Internet Phone!

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