Linksys CIT200 review

19 Jan 2006

There are much cheaper ways to use Skype, but they're not as convenient as the CIT200, and SkypeOut's competitive rates make this a viable alternative to a broadband phone adaptor

Price when reviewed: 
61(£72 inc VAT)
5

For those who prefer a more traditional interface than a headset for VoIP, Linksys' CIT200 could be the answer.

The phone itself looks just like a standard DECT phone, and that's exactly what it is. The handset communicates with the base station using standard DECT and GAP (general access profile). However, the base station is a USB device, so annoyingly you need a PC to use this system. It doesn't provide Internet telephony for your existing wireless network, unlike ZyXEL's Prestige 2000W. Instead, the Linksys works via Skype - the service that's done most to promote the concept of Internet telephony. The Skype software is included on the setup CD, but you can use an existing installation if you want to. Once you've set up Skype and the CIT200 software, you need to register the latter with Skype to access your Internet phone account.

After the requisite 14-hour initial charge cycle, you can use your Skype account through the CIT200 without further hassle. All your current Skype contacts appear on the phone - just hit the Skype button. This includes any numbers you've added with SkypeOut, Skype's bridging service to regular landlines.

A voucher is included in the box for 60 minutes of SkypeOut. After you've used that, it's 1.7 Euro cents a minute (about 1.2p) to most of Europe, North America, China, Australia and New Zealand. Phoning other countries is still reasonable, though. For example, most Indian area codes are only 12.5 Euro cents a minute, which works out better than sipgate or freetalk. With SkypeIn now available as a beta in the UK, you can use Skype for all your phone needs. Sound quality is extremely good and a distinct improvement on a cheap PC microphone.

The Linksys CIT200 is a lot more expensive than a Plantronics headset, and a standalone DECT phone for a broadband adaptor such as freetalk's would cost less than half the price. However, if you already use Skype a lot to converse with friends and relatives abroad, the CIT200 could be just what you need to get over the discomfort of being tied to your PC. Considering how competitive SkypeOut rates are, you could save quite a bit of money on your international calls as well. We just wish the CIT200 was a WLAN device, because then you could cut the PC out of the picture entirely.