As you know, our interest is usually focused in GSM mobile phone news, but now we bring to your attention a product which is not a mobile phone, it is more of a PC product, but uses GSM networks to help you communicate at lower rates.
The technology development company, Euro Design Intl. has presented its newest product, named MobiGater. This tool's purpose is making low cost calls using the Skype protocols via mobile phones.
MobiGater • How it works
The receiver antenna needs a SIM card, USB connection to a PC with Skype and electric power. Making a call in Skype, with the MobiGater activated, redirects the call from the SIM card to a mobile phone number you have assigned. And this results in low cost call if you are using some kind of a call rate program with free or very cheap minute charge. The technology works both ways: you can either receive Skype calls or call Skype contacts through your phone. Another option is using the SkypeIn and SkypeOut features of the messaging application. In this case international calls are much cheaper than using common GSM network operator rates.
MobiGater is to be released very soon and will cost approximately 200 Euro for the Plus version. You can learn more by visiting the MobiGater web site.
We did have the pleasure to review a non-retail version of the device and share our impressions with you.
MobiGater - Skype and mobile phones were never so integrated.
Imagine what it would be if you could use the free in-Skype calls or the low cost SkypeIn and Out calls on your mobile phone. Well, dream no more, as MobiGater does just that. It is a gateway which serves as a connection between the VoIP world of Skype and the GSM SIM-based mobile network.
To use it you only have to dispose of these hardware devices - a PC, a mobile phone, two SIM cards in a low-cost calls group and the Mobigater itself. To connect them you only have to make two connections - one between the Mobigater and the Skype-enabled PC via USB and a second one between the Mobigater and the GSM mobile network by inserting a SIM card in it. The second card goes into your regular mobile phone that you use everyday.
Design and construction: almost like a network router.
Euro Design's device sure looks a lot like a regular network broadband router. No unnecessary additions to the black structure of its body, no nothing. It has absolutely black body with the MOBIGATER insignia and logo and four light diodes which represent (from left to right) the power status, mobile phone connectivity, Skype connectivity and USB connectivity with the PC. That's the visible front part of MobiGater.
On the back side of it you can find (I really hope that you find it at first sight) the antenna, which is quite striking anyways. This long, thin stick provides the all-necessary transfer from Skype to your mobile phone. The retail package would also include an antenna with a longer cable for locations where the GSM network coverage is weaker.
There are the ports for the power cable and the USB cable too. There were some free empty slots for other ports but since the version we tested is not a retail one, we cannot tell for sure what the further options of the device will be. It also has speakers and microphone jacks. But they would most likely remain unused except for troubleshooting perhaps.
On the bottom of the device you will find the SIM card bed cover. It is a bit tricky to open when trying for the very first time. You must slide it downwards (if you turn the facing towards you device horizontally) and then it will enable you to remove it and unveil the SIM card bed. After you insert your card you must put the holder on a very accurate position as it is quite shaky and unstable to our opinion.
Installation and customization: Like a 1-2-3-Step Wizard
After you plug in all the cables, put the SIM card in its bed and start your PC and your Skype, get to install the drivers, provided on a CD. After doing so, you will find a MobiGater application on your desktop. The red icon will take you to your Skype contact list but with a bit different view. Before that, though, Skype will ask you whether you will authorize the application to use it.
After confirmation go and edit the options of the application. Define the mobile number you want to redirect your Skype calls to, choose whether you would like to use SkypeIn or not, but also take a look at the other preferences as some of them may be of great importance for your personal needs.
We must also point out that there are two different versions of Mobigater: the Mobigater Plus and the Mobigater Pro. The main difference is in the number of mobile phone numbers the device can accept GSM network calls. The Plus version can be set to accept mobile network calls from 1 number only, while the Pro version is meant for the business users and can accept such calls from multiple numbers. In the same time, both versions of the device can forward Skype calls to one preset mobile phone number only. For our tests we received the Pro version.
Calls: Yes, I can hear you, how about you?
These were the first words every time we tested the device as we couldn't believe the great level of sound clarity and speed, which is quite unusual for Internet calls. There were just minor noises and interruptions which are natural for such type of calls and won't bother you at all, we promise.
First of all, let us start with the simple Skype calls, when you talk with a Skype contact. Well, after several minutes of "fine tuning" the device's options (it works quite poorly if you have Blue Soleil Bluetooth application installed, there is some port misunderstanding between the two applications) we got to dialing and after some short seconds the call was initiated successfully. There is nothing strange - the other party calls your Skype and you receive a call on your mobile phone from the the SIM card in the MobiGater device.
If you still haven't got the idea of MobiGater, let us enlighten you: If you are using some low cost rate program for a group of SIM cards or the calls are free between members of this group, you might be very interested in having one of these "babies" at your disposal, since you can accept and initiate Skype calls for free on your mobile phone, just having your PC switched on back at home or at the office and your Skype working properly.
Soon after the first test, we got to call a Skype contact from the cellular phone. This option can be done by dialing the number of the SIM card you've put in MobiGater, after connecting with it you must push the asterisk "*" key then dial the Speed Dial number of the contact you want to call and putting a hash "#" key in the end to confirm your selection. After doing that the device and its application will transfer your request to Skype.
Some phones have the option of a separator in the calls order (like Sony Ericsson - "p") and you can even enter the whole combination in your phonebook like this: (Sony Ericsson example) +111222333444p*5# where 5 is the Speed Dial number you have assigned to the contact you're calling.
After successfully tested the Skype calls, we got our attention to SkypeIn and Out low cost calls. They were as easy as the previous type of calls. All you need to have is credit in your Skype account and all you need to know is that dialing is the same but instead of a Speed Dial number, you enter the phone number you want to call. For example (again, for Sony Ericsson phones, with the "p"): +111222333444p*00111222333445# where 00111222333445 is the phone number you're dialing. This option is very comfortable for making international calls at prices around 0,017 EUR (check the SkypeOut rates here), which is great.
Accepting SkypeIn calls is also as easy as accepting any other call but you still have to have some credit in your Skype account.
Resume: a wonder-tool for the small business
Our conclusion is that MobiGater is very useful for business users who make a lot of international calls and have large SIM card groups who talk for free or at very low rates between each other. This will make this device a very profitable (or expenditure-saving) part of their everyday work-life.
Since the price of MobiGater is 200 EUR, it won't be unaffordable almost for anybody, so we don't see any reason why it won't become popular among home users too. It is easy to use and of great benefit for people who have such SIM card groups and would like to have the comfort of using Skype while are 300 miles away from their PC. We consider this of great importance and as a major benefit.
The drawbacks of the device are its purely simple design, plastic construction and somewhat confusing preferences. But as for the design and construction, MobiGater will mostly sit somewhere hidden, so nobody would care how it looks or is it nice to touch and strong enough. So, if the final version has a simpler and less irritating customizing software options menu, it will be one great product.