Once you've finished the initial setup and pairing, the ClearSky Conference Phone is very simple to operate.
The phone has six status LEDs. The blue MIC LEDs, located near each of the three microphones, indicate that the microphones are active. If you press the Mute button, the three blue MIC LEDs turn off, and a red Mute LED, located next to the Mute button, illuminates.
There are also a Power LED as well as an online Bluetooth LED. It should be noted that the online Bluetooth LED indicates that there's a good Bluetooth connection but does not indicate that Skype itself is online. To test this, I disconnected the network cable from the Skype notebook and the LED remained illuminated. Likewise, I shut down Skype and the LED stayed on.
In addition to the traditional 12-key numeric keypad and the Answer and Hang Up buttons, there are other function buttons. Two buttons are available for adjusting volume and two navigation keys are available for scrolling up and down within the menu selections. A Skype Contact button, located directly below the LCD display, enables you to display a contact list, a Menu button that allows you to enter the Configuration menu, and a Select Concall Participants button to add contacts to a conference call.
The ClearSky Conference Phone supports several operating modes. In the Normal Mode, it interfaces directly with the Skype client on the paired Bluetooth notebook. In this mode, your Skype contact information can be displayed on the screen by touching the Contacts button. The online status of the user is displayed along with up to 14 characters of their Skype ID.
If you switch to Headset Mode, the phone will operate as a cordless speakerphone, but without any of the Skype features. The Headset Mode lets you to use the device with other VoIP-enabled services such as MSN Messenger or Yahoo Messenger.
Figure 10 shows the Skype contact list as displayed by the TRENDnet Conference Phone when you press the Skype Contact button.
Figure 10: Skype contact list as displayed by the TRENDnet Conference Phone
The first item of the Configuration menu is History. From the History sub-menu, you can check your incoming, outgoing, and missed Skype calls, as shown in Figure 11 below.
Figure 11: ClearSky History Menu
The information in each category is only a subset of the information that's available in the Skype client. Each list is limited to the most recent nine entries. The detailed call information includes the Skype Name, category, date and a time stamp. The call duration, available in the Skype client, is not displayed on the phone as part of call history.
From the conference phone, it's quite simple to make and receive Skype calls. You merely scroll down the Skype contact list and press Dial to make your call. If you've opted for Skype Out (calling an ordinary phone number), you can dial your Skype Out call directly from the keypad.
There are a number of functions that you can't perform on the conference phone: for example, you can't create new Skype contacts or clear the missed call messages. As you would suspect, chat functions also don't work. But I discovered that if you get an inbound chat message, the conference phone sends you an alert to check your Skype client.