It was only a matter of time before the idea of free phone calls over the internet caught on. Skype is the best-known use of VoIP (voice over IP) technology, and US Robotics has waded in with what amounts to the first proper range of Skype products.

One of the problems of converting the uninitiated is convincing them to abandon their current sleek receiver in favour of a (frequently) tackier alternative. Enter US Robotics' USB Telephone Adapter.

Connect this to the phoneline and your PC and you can plug in any standard touchtone telephone – well, any with an RJ11 connector. Even cordless phones will work. We didn't find the installation process to be the smoothest, but once the phone was connected, the results were very pleasing, with relatively good reception.

At £40 from Savastore.com, it's not bad value for money, especially given the savings you'll make with Skype. Having said that, it's still too much for an impulse buy, especially given that Wi-Fi Skype phones are almost upon us. And while these devices will be fairly expensive, they are likely to be the more exciting product in the future.

US Robotics 9620: Specs

  • USB 1.1/2.0 interface
  • full-duplex echo-free sound quality
  • auto detection of PSTN or VoIP calls
  • call forwarding (Skype to PSTN)
  • 188x240x64mm
  • 0.9kg
  • USB 1.1/2.0 interface
  • full-duplex echo-free sound quality
  • auto detection of PSTN or VoIP calls
  • call forwarding (Skype to PSTN)
  • 188x240x64mm
  • 0.9kg

OUR VERDICT

The USR 9620 is a neat way of allowing your trusty home phone to join the Skype revolution. However, while it works well, it will probably need to cost a little less than this to become a bestseller.

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