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Netgear today introduced a new cordless phone that combines plain-old telephone service and Skype calling in one handset. It's not a new concept (Linksys is already doing it, for example), but the new Dual-Mode Cordless Phone with Skype SPH200D is a handsome little package. And it looks easy to use. The handset LCD shows you the option of selecting a SkypeOut or landline connection, and your can scroll through your Skype contact list. The wireless functions use the DECT standard, so reception should be good even if you have lots of other wireless devices flooding the hosue. It's available now for $200.

The base station supports up to 4 handsets, but we're not sure how useful that is. You can only make one phone call at a time. And the clueless Netgear flaks didn't even know if you can use two handsets at the same time (say your two kids want to get on the phone with grandma at the same time.) We can't imagine the phone not supporting that. (But then, neither can we imagine Netgear's top marketing people not knowing how their own products work).