Man, they really could have branded this headset more... alluringly. Neither "GE-31591GE1" nor "GE Cordless Phone" or even "digital cordless expandable telephone" quite tickle any consumer-y hot zones of mine. It's a shame--as an avid Skype user, I didn't even realize this headset existed until I received an insane promotional offer to get one of these bad boys for a cool $10. (Normally, they are about $60 from Skype's vendor partner on the official site.) I of course immediately accepted this gracious gesture--maybe I received it because I am a longtime paying user?--and I have to say I'm hooked. Although this headset isn't without its flaws, I anticipate using it quite a bit in the years to come.
What You Get
It feels like there are a million pieces inside the box--you've got the handset itself, the rechargeable battery, the back cover, the wireless/network module, the base with attached power cord, and the separate power cube for the wireless module. Phew!
Overall, this phone package feels like it's of moderately good quality. The running theme here is "sturdy, but plasticky." The handset itself is pretty basic--glossy black plastic on the front, white matte plastic on the back. You control the phone via chunky, mushy rubber buttons that seem quite reinforced--they're difficult to push at times and don't always register the keypress, but also seem as if they will never break, which is good. The display of the phone evokes a distinct 90's era Nokia mobile phone feel via a low-res, monochrome LCD display and "two hotkey" style menu interface.
Setting Up the GE Cordless Skype Phone
I was extremely and immediately impressed at how simple this phone was to set up--anyone, regardless of tech aptitude and knowledge level--could get this up and running in mere minutes. It's a simple as (1) plugging the wireless base into the power cube as well as connecting via Ethernet to a LAN port on the router then (2) plugging in the charging base, giving the phone some juice, then signing in to your Skype account via the phone. Once this is complete, the main display will show your Skype name, your Skype account balance, the time, and your Skype online status.
Using the GE Cordless Skype Phone
Actually using the phone is similarly easy and breezy. All you have to do is either select your Skype contact to dial... and dial. If you have SkypeOut (which is very much worth it) you can easily dial any landline phone as long as you include the prefix, just as if you were on a landline phone yourself. The phone can also be used as a wireless landline phone in much the same manner.
So far, I've made several phone calls, some long (work-related conference calls, etc.) and some short (calling my parents or the pizza place) and every one has been flawless. In fact, problems I've noticed in the past with the Skype mobile or desktop clients, e.g. audio pops, sounding like I'm underwater, listeners not hearing me, and so on--seem to have disappeared. Although slightly on the weak side, audio quality is acceptably loud and very clear. The speakerphone (which takes a dominant stance on the back of the handset) is also quite good, although in my tests, listeners reported poor audio quality from my end to theirs when speakerphone was enabled.
I'd say that this phone isn't really well-suited to tech geeks or customization fanatics--this phone keeps it very simple, with only a limited amount of options to mess with such as ringtone, display settings, and so on. The benefit of this, however, is that performing every function needed is brutally simple, from changing your Skype online status to making and receiving calls.
In short, the GE-31591GE1 cordless phone is quite magnificent as a simple yet effective way to communicate via Skype, without the need for a desktop or mobile client--or even for a local machine to be powered on at all.
Like most devices, though, it's not without it's negatives. Probably the most egregious offense is the lack of any sort of headset support, whether Bluetooth or wired, forcing one to either enable speakerphone or kick it old school with the thing plastered to the side of your head. The audio through the headset, while satisfactory, doesn't get as loud as I'd like. Plus, I think the regular price is a bit too high for what you get.
However, despite those small gripes, I think this is a great product and can highly recommend it--especially at a special price, if you can find a deal.
- Extremely easy to set up and operate
- Nice form factor
- Great battery life
- Calls are reliable and crystal clear
- Can be used with Skype and/or landline
- Strong speakerphone output
- Somewhat expensive at regular price
- No headset connection
- Plasticky construction
- Weak but satisfactory headset audio
You can get one via Skype's official site.