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Review: D-Link Skype USB Phone Adapter DPH-50U

by Bob Crabtree on 2 August 2006, 16:44

Tags: D-Link (TPE:2332)

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Final final thoughts - Aug 3 update

Update - August 3, 2006, 11:59

The  adaptor that we ordered on Tuesday (August 1) from - - a BT(female)-to-RJ11(male) with ring-capacitor - turned up this morning. So, this afternoon we used it to connect a wired phone to the D-Link box. We needed (and already had) a second adaptor - an RJ11(female)-to-BT(male) - to connect the D-Link to the wall socket and intended to use that with the doubled-ended RJ11 phone cable supplied by D-Link in pack.

However, that cable is a mere one-metre long and didn't reach anywhere near the wall socket. Fortunately, USRobotic's competing USB Skype Phone Adapter, the 9620, had turned up on Wednesday and does come with a somewhat more generous, cable, albeit only two metres long.

That longer cable did reach so, of course, we used that, even though we weren't 100 per cent sure that it would be compatible. But, it turns out that it was.

As a result, we found that we could use a wired phone to make Skype calls. And, in contrast with using the NTL DECT phone, these calls did not inexplicably terminate. We made a few calls of five minutes duration and a couple lasting ten minutes or more and each was ended by choice. We made a mix of PC-to-PC calls and (chargeable) SkypeOut calls to landlines - one of which was a bit longer than 20 minutes in duration.

At this point, we might have concluded that the problems we'd been suffering were to do with the NTL DECT phone.

However, we'd tested the USRobotics product the previous day with the the same DECT phone and didn't have any issues. Among the calls we made via the USRobotics unit were two SkypeOuts. One was to the UK and lasted 22 minutes, the other was to France and lasted for close to 15 minute. In each case the call was ended by choice.

During the call to France, using the USRobotics product, we took a walk and got about 50 metres away from the DECT phone's base station before getting bored, turning round and pacing out the distance back. Even when 50 metres away, voices at each end sounded no different than when the phone was being used near its base station.

You may now be getting ahead of the game and coming to the conclusion that the real problem lay not with the DECT phone but with the one-metre RJ11 cable that was provided with the D-Link.

If so, you'd be wrong.

That's because we know for sure that the cable is good. How come? Well, every single call made via the USRobotics unit was made with it connected to the DECT phone by the D-Link's cable!

And, we also tried the D-Link and DECT phone using the USRobotics cable but the D-Link was no more reliable than before.

For completeness sake, we ended our testing by attempting again to get the BT DECT phone to work with the D-Link. However, that phone - a Synergy 2110 that's considerably older than the NTL phone - remained unable to get a dialling tone no matter what combination of leads and socket adapters we tried.

But that was also true when connecting the BT DECT phone via USRobotics product.

And we find that situation more than a bit worrying!

What it means is that there's absolutely no guarantee - with either of these Skype adaptors - that any DECT phones that purchasers want to use will necessarily be compatible.

That being so, we'd strongly recommend to D-Link and USRobotics that they immediately start gathering in as many old and new DECT phones as possible to find out which are and which aren't compatible - and then make sure that information is quickly included with the products and made accessible online.

Until each company has done that, it ought to do two things to lessen the grief that may be suffered by purchasers.

The first is to include in pack the two socket adaptors that are needed to get these product working with wired phone. The other is to put in a big, bold "README FIRST" slip explaining the potential problems and ensuring that purchasers know that they're entitled to full refunds if they find that their DECT phones are incompatible.

So, the situations now is that the D-Link DPH-50U,

* Didn't work reliably with one of the two DECT phones we tested and, worse, it...
* Didn't work at all with the other DECT phone we tested and may not work with other models

 In addition, you need to bear in mind that it,

* Doesn't work with wired phones out of the box - unless you make an effort to find and buy the necessary adaptors (but who wants to use such a product with a wired phone, anyway?)
* Comes with drivers that are not Windows Logo approved, so is unlikely to work at all under Windows Vista until D-Link comes out with drivers that are acceptable to Vista.

All this said, we now come to our final conclusion...

Judging by our experiences (and those of many end users), a more honest strategy for D-Link would be to pull the product completely from the UK market until it is able to introduce a version that works with modern DECT phones in something far closer to a reliable fashion.

Devil Skype ident - as supplied with Skype software

HEXUS Forums :: 19 Comments

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To me VoIP seems like a great idea, but practice doesn't seem to be very good. Not having used it I might not be fully qualified to comment, but I can't see any computer microphone being decent quality and if standalone units have all these problems… I think the ideal would be for telephone companies to adopt VoIP for carrying calls (cheeply) beyond a local area and have good old telephone lines locally.

It's clear to me that you will be very pleasantly suprised if you try Skype!

There are LOTS of low-cost microphone headsets that give perfectly acceptable quality.

And if they're cheap in the UK, I dare not think how cheap they're going to be in the States!

As for what the telecom companies should do, in effect they do exactly what you suggest for long-distance but just using a somewhat different set of protocols to Skype and other VoIP systems.

Oh, but once you start using Skype, the idea of being able to use a DECT phone to take and make calls - rather than being tied to the PC by a headset - is VERY appealing.

It's just a pity that D-Link's product seems not to be a finished item.
Ive just moved house and got telewest broadband and tv but opted out of the phone and was going to look into this, however now i'm unsure, i was going to purchase this uni :( can you get any other adapters for wired or dect phones, wireless or wired into a router?
Ive just moved house and got telewest broadband and tv but opted out of the phone and was going to look into this, however now i'm unsure, i was going to purchase this uni :( can you get any other adapters for wired or dect phones, wireless or wired into a router?


Read the review and you'll see that I list out some other similar adapters.

I said in the piece that one of them, the USRobotic 9620 is due to turn up shortly and, about half an hour after the review went live, this turned up.

Although the box is different to that of the D-Link - and a bit better designed - I suspect that much the same electronics may be inside.

What makes me think that is the fact that the USRobotics software is VERY similar to the D-Link's.

The only difference I see at first glance is that the USRobotics software lacks any option to record Skype calls - which I thought was a pretty cute feature, even though the quality or recorded calls is none too hot.

The recordings made by the D-Link software were in 16-bit mono with a 9kHz audio sampling (PCM) and a total bitrate of 153kbps.

I've got the USRobotics unit all set up now but, Sod's Law, all my Skype contacts are away from their PCs and and virtually everyone else I know is away from a phone, so I've not yet been able to give it a proper work out to see if it, too, drops calls when I'm using it with a DECT phone.

Oh, and in case I didn't fully understand you question, I'd add that the only two product I know of that connect to a router, rather than via a PC, are the WiFi Skype phones due from Netgear and Belkin.

The Netgear is detailed in my write up of Skype's June hardware showcase in London. The Belkin, which seems a lot better looking and a lot less expensive, was detailed in a recent news story.

I splashed out ( a whole 22 quid) on one of these today as a replacement for my wife's keyboard (which is also our 24/7 server PC) which I thought rather cute idea.. Hopefully it's not a bag of crud! Rather interesting was:

Details here:

Plus it has the benefit of a super-ghay™ product name.. lol