We've previously reviewed an earlier version of this phone. That model - still used in our office - was a dual landline and Skype phone. Working on the DECT digital standard for household phones, it was an admirable stab at VoIP nirvana.

This model is based on the same concept, with one difference. The earlier model connected to your PC via USB and needed you to be signed into Skype in order to work with the service. This phone doesn't have that requirement - the Skype client is built into its interface.

As is the case with many household cordless phones, the DUALphone has a base station together with a powered charging station for the phone itself.

The charging station and handset can be placed anywhere, while the base station needs to be close to both power and telephone sockets. There's a third connection that also needs to be made with the base station: Ethernet. This is how the phone connects to Skype.

New interface

The phone's interface has been designed by Skype itself. For the most part it is very good: clear and functional. However, it's when you come to use the phone for conventional landline calls that the system lets you down.

Each time you key in a number and hit the green button, you're asked if you'd like to call the number via Skype's SkypeOut service or via your landline. This is frustrating, but you can set it to default to one or the other.

However, if you tend to do most of your calling out by landline and then want to switch to SkypeOut, it's still a bit fiddly. Perhaps separate call buttons would have been a better idea. Usability also takes another hit with the less-than-suitable buttons, which are hard to press.

As a Skype phone, however, the picture is more compelling. At nearly £100 it's expensive, but you're now able to use Skype as a decent method of communication: constantly there, but without having a PC whirring away. So your relatives in far-flung lands need not have to email you to ask when you'll be online... Dan Grabham