How We Tested
Working on the premise that the best way to review a product is to actually use it, we loaded up Skype and MSN, plugged in the phone, installed the software and started contacting everyone we could think of.
Firstly, the handset itself is surprisingly nice to use - lightweight and compact, with the key buttons located conveniently where you need them the most. The buttons are not particularly tactile but are easy to press and very responsive. It's surprising how many products go for ultra-modern style and forget all about the ergonomic requirements of regular use. The IR-2500 doesn't bother much with style (it wouldn't win many awards), but gets two thumbs up (flexible, healthy thumbs, not ones crippled by RSI) for ease of use.
The software has a very low footprint and is ridiculously easy to set up. Configuring it is also very straightforward, although it's rather easy to shut down the application when you think you're just applying some changes. That can get a bit annoying
In Skype mode, everything works as advertised, and makes life MUCH easier. Being able to delegate complete control over an application to a single device actually makes using that app much more enjoyable, and in this function the IR-2500 does a sterling job. Audio clarity is excellent, but it's good to remember that Skype communication has plenty of points at which audio degredation can occur. It's reassuring to know that the phone isn't one of them, however.
The Windows-based functionality is also pretty good, but you can't use the phone completely in other IM clients - there's still some manual computer interaction required.
The i-Rocks IR-2500 is a very neat piece of hardware, but it really isn't worthwhile unless you're a Skype user. It's main design and feature set is geared around Skype, in which it does a phenomenal job. The fact that it's compatible with other voice-capable IM clients and can map buttons for ease of use isn't actually a selling point - it's more an additional nice-to-have feature in addition to the main Skype functions.
So, if you're a Skype user, we absolutely recommend this. If you're not
Tactile and ergonomic
Very easy to install/set up
Excellent Skype functionality
Only major benefit is for Skype users
Software could be more robust
Rating - 8 out of 10