ZyXel was kind enough to send me one of their new WiFi phones - the ZyXel P-2000W version 2. I have to say that I’m impressed with the ZyXel. It’s a sleek and simple design that fits comfortably in your hand and could easily slide in your pocket. It has volume buttons on the side and a headset plug. The phone can connect to 802.11b and 802.11g networks and can register with any SIP broadband voice provider, including an Asterisk server. It connects to its power cord via a mini-USB connection. A quick Froogle search indicates that the going rate for this model is around $148.
It had no problem getting a wireless signal and configuring itself on the network using DHCP. I have an open network at home, but the phone menus imply that there would be little problem connecting using WEP encryption on a secure wireless network. I’ll be honest - I was expecting the signal range to be pretty short. I was pleasantly surprised - I even walked a good distance through the woods near my home while on a call and noticed very little signal loss. Battery life was comparable to the specifications they advertise, although it seems like all phones in this space are right on the edge of usability.
There is a simple address book on the phone for frequently dialed numbers. It allows you to add numbers from the caller id history as well as add your own. It also does an address book lookup when you receive an incoming call and displays the name you assigned to the user - a feature you’d expect from a modern phone. There is no way to sync your phone address book with, say, the address book on your computer. You can customize the ringtone for the phone and set it to vibrate, etc, but you can’t assign specific ringtones to specific users in your address book.
The only other suggestion I have for ZyXel is to make the display a little easier to read - it’s difficult to make out at even the slightest angle. Also, when you’re on a call there’s no timer or anything to speak of on the display. In fact, there’s nothing obvious to indicate that you’re even on a call. Overall, I was impressed with the phone - this is a new space and I expect we’ll see rapid changes in the WiFi phone market.