Network Computing is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them. Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

Geek Chic: Mplat's Flashphone F2K

Mplat Technology FlashPhone F2K Skype and other VoIP (voice over IP) services make free, high-quality global calls over the Internet possible. But you must be tethered to the specific PC that contains your calling information, and to the hardware and software that enables calls. Or do you?

A $40 product called FlashPhone F2K from Mplat Technology puts the necessary information, along with the software and hardware, into the palm of your hand. Mplat has combined a flash memory drive and a USB sound card into a device only slightly larger than a lipstick holder, accompanied by a set of earbuds with a built-in microphone.

I connected the FlashPhone to a PC's USB port, and, after a surprisingly long load time, Skype Mobile was ready for use. Once running, the FlashPhone did exactly as promised, letting me make calls and even get a recorded clip using Skype's Echo Test service. After ensuring the FlashPhone worked well on my primary machine, I plugged in to a new machine, which also detected and installed the flash drive and audio controller. All my user settings and contact listings were carried over to the new machine. I had administrator authority on both test machines, though, and in a locked-down corporate environment you might run into computer policies that will prevent the hardware from being installed or the application from loading.

Another small problem in my tests: A required freeware application was missing in the installation files, causing me to lose my Skype settings and contact lists after exiting the application. A text document in the directory where the file should be provided a Web link to download the file, and once I did that the problem disappeared.

The FlashPhone is based on a sound idea, at a good price, but I'd like to see more detailed documentation.

  • 1