Introduction and Features
It seems like we've been on a roll recently with brand names that aren't all that familiar, and Topcom is yet another such brand to add to the list. Now, we're not going out and saying that Topcom is some little start-up, but outside of Europe they're not really that well known. This Belgian company has been producing corded and cordless phone for some 15 odd years now, and just recently have shifted much of their focus toward DECT devices. This has also branched out into the Walkie-talkie market and some broadband and wireless networking products.
More so recently the telephone market has started to change, and with the introduction of VoIP and even more so the most famous consumer brand for VoIP communications, Skype, a new market has opened up and Topcom wants a slice of the action. It's not the first and far from the last handset manufacturer to take on this unproven market, but with the latest generation of cordless Skype phones relying on DECT as the connection between the handset and the base station, it looks like the traditional phone makers have been given more than a fair chance to prove their worth.
What we're looking at today is the [email protected] 6000, which is Topcom's first PC-less cordless Skype phone. As mentioned, it uses DECT signalling to communicate with the base unit and it is similar to the Netgear SPH200D which we reviewed about three weeks ago. The [email protected] 6000 differs in terms of construction and design, but many of the features and the way you use the handset is instantly recognisable thanks to Skype's universal user interface. This can be a good and a bad thing, it means that you don't have to re-learn how to use your cordless phone, but if you decide to stick with Skype, then you're stuck with their UI as well.
The [email protected] 6000 looks a lot more conventional compared to the Netgear handset and it's not something you'd take notice of if it was sitting on someone's coffee table, at least not until you'd start fiddling with it and the display comes on. It comes in silver and black and it has no extra buttons on the keypad like the Netgear. Topcom has integrated the extra features into the soft menu instead, which for example means that you have to use the left soft key to enable the speaker phone.
The handset is somewhat more bulbous than the Netgear, but this actually makes for a more comfortable grip as the back is rounded rather than flat. Topcom's DECT phone experience shows, as the company supplies a small clip that attaches to the rear of the handset and allows you to hook it onto your clothing or a thin belt for when you want to carry it around with you. This is a neat touch, but the clip doesn't quite offer enough space for a thicker leather belt.
The keys on the handset are made from soft rubber and are quite easy to press, although some of them seemed a bit smaller than they really had to be. General navigation is done by the big round button in the middle and you press the centre of it to make selections or use the left soft key. The only shortcut on the keypad is the number one key, which when pressed and held goes to the Skype Voice Mail service if you have it enabled.
Let's take a quick look at the base station before we get on with the functionality and usage. The base station is a low profile, black wedge with a red light in the front that stays on when it's connected. It has three ports and a reset button around the back. The ports consist of an ethernet port that connects to your router, a power connector and a RJ-11 phone socket which attaches to your normal phone jack; however, you might need an adapter depending on the country you live in.
The [email protected] 6000 comes with a separate charger, just as the Netgear did, although Topcom didn't seem to think it was a good idea to have a removable charger; so if the charger would get damaged, you have to replace the whole charger. We're not sure this is the best way of doing things, but as long as Topcom can provide a replacement for an affordable price, it's not a big deal.
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