OK, I admit it, the new Panasonic Wi-Fi phone kit is reminiscent of the first Motorola Cell phone likened to gold bars, (same weight, and about the same cost.) They too came in a kit you toted around with battery charger and other accessories. But forgive me for gushing, this is technology integration at its finest and proof yet again that the Internet really does change everything.
Senior Analyst and Editor
With its new (KX-WP1050) Skype handset, Panasonic has created the sleek look of a cell phone riding on the network backbone of the Internet. The kit you tote along allows for Wi-Fi connection without a computer and is designed for use "by virtually anyone with little or no computer experience"
according to a company press release.
Think of it, two groundbreaking events in one device. First, setting up a wireless 802.11(x) access point (with QOS and encryption) has now become so simple that it can be included in a device sold to the masses.
Secondly, and even more astounding, is the advent of VOIP in a portable format instead of tied to a network-connected PC.
What Ma-Bell generation technician would have imagined that twenty-four years after Judge Green’s gavel broke up the mighty phone utility - customers would essentially be toting around their own "telephone switch" (complete with unique phone number)? Simply plug into the network (albeit not the same telco network of the 1980’s) and you can connect to any phone in the world.
VOIP is changing the rules of the game for telcos and their investment in the telephone infrastructure making long distance and international calls essentially free. The portable version of VOIP renders just extends the paradigm to the mobile environment, but adds another useful feature - travelers can simply port their local phone number with them anywhere in the world. That same (201) local area code will ring in Japan, Germany or even Hoboken, NJ.
And what does this 0.62-inch thin, 4 ounce Wi-Fi phone portend for the future of cell phones and their networks? Well, we’ve already said the Internet changes everything, and it’s probably not done yet. However, we will reserve judgment of the usability of this particular product until we have a chance to look at it further. VOIP is not perfect even on landlines, as we have found out first hand, so there are likely to be some bumps on the road to quality services for portable VOIP.