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Closing Thoughts

Before I give you the bottom line, here's the list of missing features that shared by both the SPH101 and the Accton/SMC phone:

  • No Text Chat or SMS
  • No Web Browser authentication - The SPH101 doesn't have a web browser or any other way to get you authenticated to a network using a "captive portal" that requires you to launch a web browser to check in.
  • No Conference Calling - Once you start a call, the only options you have are to mute the microphone and put the call on hold.
  • No keyboard conveniences - You can't press any key to pick up a call, lock the keyboard, mute or hold a call or disable the ringer.

All things considered, Netgear's SPH101 is slightly better than the Accton / SMC / EdgeCore / Belkin products, but still plagued by bugs and oddities. The SPH101's biggest claim to fame is its speakerphone, but that advantage is offset by implementation issues that make it marginally usable.

And although the Netgear phone's battery life seems better than that of its Accton competitors, there are enough inconsistencies to negate this advantage in every day use. In order to truly claim a battery life advantage, performance must be consistent enough so that a user can budget his or her use accordingly. Right now, the SMC phone's battery life is more consistent, but too short in talk time to be of practical use.

In any case, the SPH101 doesn't have any edge that justifies its slightly higher pricing. But I think that issue is well on its way to being eliminated, since current rebates on the Netgear phone bring it about equal to the typical $180 street price of the SMC.

In either case, however, all of these products remain expensive curiosities and certainly not suited for road-warrior use. Battery time is much too short, the browser-based authentication needed by many commercial hotspots is missing and the hassle and extra weight just don't justify it as a viable business communication tool.

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