Review: Philips VOIP 841 Skype phone

About two months ago, I bought a Philips VOIP 841 Skype phone to replace my old-fashioned land line. I started using Skype because I wanted the flexibility of having the same number at work, home, or whatever coffee shop I happened to be at. But ordinarily with Skype, you are tied to your computer, which runs the Skype software.

Not so with the VOIP 841. It plugs directly into your ethernet jack (or in my case, my router) and connects to the internet and your Skype account by itself. No computer needed.

And for that, I love it. The sound quality is great on our standard Qwest DSL (1.5 mbps) line, even though five of us share the line. The phone is wireless so I can wander around the office, and, of course, it takes up a lot less room than the big office phone it replaced (and looks good, too).

But the phone has two flaws, one of which drives me insane, and I am seriously considering burning the thing.

First, the lesser flaw. There is no way to clear the history so that, if you listened to your voicemail on your computer, your phone does not keep blinking “40 voicemails” at you. You have to listen to each voicemail one at a time in order to clear the notification, which is rather cumbersome and annoying. This flaw, however, I could deal with, if not for the second flaw.

Second, the serious flaw. Call waiting on this phone is broken. Badly. When someone calls in, the phone beeps to let you know. But even if you reject the call, it keeps beeping every few seconds no matter what you do, cutting into your conversation repeatedly, again and again and again and again. I called Philips’ overseas support line, but this problem does not seem to be in the binder they give their CSRs.

This is a serious flaw. I cannot carry on a conversation while my phone is beeping at me every few seconds. It turns a pleasant conversation into one where I want to stomp on the phone.

And for this flaw alone, I cannot recommend the VOIP 841. Get something else. But test it first to make sure the call waiting features work properly.

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  • http://www.legalpracticepro.com Jay Fleischman

    I have found that most Skype handsets suffer from one flaw or another. I have tested a few wifi handsets with marginal success. As an option, I suggest using the call forwarding feature on your Skype account to send unanswered calls to your cell phone. The cost is marginal, and the quality is assured.

  • Justin

    I agree. I purchased this same phone based on the positive reviews on Amazon, but this is a fatal flaw, and there is no way to get around it as far as I can tell. I am returning my phone to Skype tomorrow. Too bad, because other than that, the phone was really nice…

  • Sam Glover

    Seriously? I am surprised they would not have fixed it by now. The problem did go away when I started forwarding my voicemails to PhoneTag, but that is not a fix, just a patch.

  • Chris

    A quick way to solve this problem — just press “accept” after three rings — it will not accept (the call will have switched over to voicemail) — but it will stop buzzing.

    I agree this is a serious problem, and I am upset that they are not issuing any new firmware for the phone.