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Final Thoughts

I was very surprised when I discovered that a USB cable is the charging mechanism for the battery in the conference phone. It's a decision that appears to be more driven by cost than function. Why require people to connect to the computer when the whole idea is in enabling the ClearSky Conference Phone to be un-tethered to the computer running Skype? Wouldn't it be better to include a USB charger?

But at least the Phone Kit has several operating modes that address the battery issues. In Normal Mode, if it is disconnected from power, the conference phone shuts down completely after 6 minutes of inactivity. In that situation, you would essentially be making outbound calls. The Standby Mode puts the conference phone to sleep after 6 minutes of inactivity, but the phone will “wake up” on an incoming call.

In my tests of Standby Mode, an incoming call did wake it up, but there was a slight pause as the phone powered up. Monitoring my notebook, I noted that the conference phone didn't ring until about the third incoming ring. But even though Standby Mode does extend the its life, the battery will still require periodic recharging; probably in the middle of an important call.

I also wondered, how useful is an un-tethered Skype conference phone? Though there are some cases where you would use an un-tethered phone, at least for me, I would have found the phone more useful if it had a color screen, connected directly with a USB cable to my Skype notebook, and interfaced with a POTS / PSTN line. That last "nice-to-have" would make it a really useful office tool. But, that's a different product...

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