Netgear, Thomson phones support Skype and landline

Dual-mode phones let users choose to make phone calls either via landline or using VOIP

Netgear and Thomson separately introduced new phones at the International Consumer Electronics Show on Sunday that let users make and receive calls via Skype's VOIP (voice over Internet Protocol) service as well as over their regular phone line.

Netgear's SPH200D dual-mode cordless phone communicates with a base station in the home that can support up to four Netgear handsets. The base station uses the DECT (Digital Enhanced Cordless Communications) cordless phone standard to connect wirelessly to the phone.

Users plug the base station into a home network router in order to reach the Internet to support Skype calls.

Users can access their regular Skype buddy list and can see which buddies are available. They can choose to make phone calls either via landline or using Skype. SkpeOut, the service that allows users to make Skype calls to landline phones for a low per-minute rate, and other Skype services are supported.

While the base station can support up to four handsets, it can't support multiple simultaneous calls. The phone is currently available for $199.

Thomson introduced a similar GE-branded phone system that also uses DECT and supports Skype calls as well as landline phone calls. Users can conduct conference calls with up to four VOIP users and can also conference both landline and VOIP callers.

The GE offering will become available in the spring and should cost $179.99 including two handsets.

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