November 9, 2006 8:10 AM PST
Linksys, Yahoo team on Net cordless phone
The Linksys Dual-Mode Cordless Phone for Yahoo Messenger with Voice (CIT310) lets users make free PC-to-PC calls using Yahoo's voice over Internet Protocol service. Users can also use their Yahoo Phone Out accounts and Yahoo Phone In accounts to make and receive calls.
The phone comes with a base station that plugs into a regular phone jack to provide regular phone service. Users can switch between the regular phone service and their Yahoo Messenger with Voice service by clicking a button on the phone.
Linksys, a division of Cisco Systems, has designed a similar phone for Skype users called the Linksys CIT200 Skype.
Both the Yahoo and Skype versions of the phone allow users to control "presence" information, letting people know if they are away, busy or online. Users also have the ability to view the presence of their Yahoo Messenger "buddies."
The Linksys CIT310 has a range of 985 feet outdoors and about 165 feet indoors. Standby time is 100 hours and talk time is 10 hours.
While many of the features of the Yahoo Linksys phone are similar to those designed for Skype, the Yahoo version offers additional features, Tarun Loomba, senior director of Linksys' consumer business, said. For example, users can get daily weather reports from their phones. The phone also can access Yahoo's local search service, which people typically use for information about local services and businesses, such as retail shops and restaurants.
"Yahoo offers a lot of services," Loomba said. "So we really had to figure out what the pertinent services were to bring to the phone. We didn't want to overwhelm the consumer with too many options and menus."
Yahoo has developed partnerships with other companies in addition to Linksys to bring its VoIP service to cordless phones. Last March, it announced it would work with Siemens Communications to put its technology in the Gigaset cordless phones.
The Linksys CIT310 is currently available from retailers for $99.