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VOIP Is Here – It’s Great, It’s Cheap And It’s Easy

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First, go to the Skype site, download their software and install it on your computer (Mac or Windows). (Story links open in new windows)

Now – assuming you have a sound card, microphone and speakers – you can make a voice call to any other computer with Skype installed. And you can conference up to four people at a time.

Free.

Sound quality is far better than the phone system, although you sometimes get brief-but-slightly-noticeable network dropouts.

For me, though, the best part may be Skype Out – this allows you to call land line and mobile phones from your computer, but this isn’t quite free.

For about 2 cents US (€ 0.017) per minute, you can call land line phones in the US, Canada, Western Europe, Australia and Chile under the SkypeOut Global Rate (calls to mobile phones cost more).

Per-minute costs for other locations vary: Mexico is € 0.080 (except Mexico City which is the same as the US – 2 cents), Iraq € 0.302, Israel € 0.026 (Israel mobile € 0.091), Beijing € 0.022 – it’s a steal.

I did have a problem before signing up.

Initially, they wanted me to send a whole bunch of ID plus € 10 to a bank in Europe. With the state of identity theft as it is, I declined. Instead, I – and many others, I would think – whined and suggested they add PayPal to their payment methods.

They now accept PayPal and I’m live.

The other problem I had was a bit of feedback from my computer speakers to the microphone. This generated an echoey sound. I used headphones to get around this. I also understand that mics built into computers generally sound fine, but "your mileage may vary."

This may sound like a Skype commercial, but I swear I have no ties, neither personal nor professional, to Skype or anyone there.

I’m just jazzed.

 

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About Hal

  • http://paskudnyak.blogspot.com/ The Proprietor

    Having heard some pretty bad VOIP in its early days I was very pleasantly surprised by Skype’s audio quality. I’ve only had one bad connection when using it, and it’s not only been a godsend at work (setting up ad hoc conference calls in moments as opposed to getting dial-in numbers and passcodes out to everyone) but it’s kept me in touch with several old friends as well. I’ve only had one conversation over Skype with noticeable echo or latency, but that can happen with the PSTN anyway, so no great issue there.

    The downsides? Skype’s a P2P program, and as such it’ll be blocked by a lot of sites. It’s firewall-friendly, but I would imagine loads of Skype traffic tunneled over port 80 through a proxy server would make net admins shut things down quickly. It’s lineage is from the same folks as Kazaa, so of course the concern is that future versions may have the same “enhancements” (i.e. adware) that infected the latter releases of Kazaa. File transfers that go through firewalls generally use “relays”, and are unacceptably slow for all but the smallest files.

    Definitely a cool product. However, one potential (and I emphasize potential, as I haven’t evaluated it) competitor might be Qnext. Qnext not only has the voice and text messaging, but also video conferencing, plus PC remote control, a la GoToMyPC. Skype should consider adding some of these features in order to keep their leadership position

  • http://www.tude.com/ Hal Pawluk

    I like the idea of the video, and in fact asked them about it since it seems a natural.

    Thanks for the lead on Qnext.

  • http://www.tude.com/ Hal Pawluk

    Did a fast scan of the Qnext pages.

    The video conferencing looks good but it doesn’t do what I want most – phone calls to real phones from my computer.

    Good looking product otherwise.

  • KOB

    Good info here. I’ve been using Dialpad to call my ex in the UK. VOIP has nothing to do with the fact that my ex is in the UK. The telephone had nothing to do with the breakup. But I’m over it, thanks to VOIP, and personal ads on Craigs List. My life is moving in entirely new direction. That’s why I’m here on a Friday night.

  • http://www.antequeravillarental.com alienboy

    i’ve been using skype for a few weeks now. can’t comment on the pure voip side, but on the skype out the sound quality has been good for me but lots of echo and delay, often intolerably so, for the person on the “phone” end.

  • http://www.tude.com/ Hal Pawluk

    Can you tell me what two end points you used? Maybe that makes some difference.

    I’ve been calling from Los Angeles to land phones in Edmonton, Chicago and Orlando. In all cases the echo went away when I plugged in the headphones and turned off the speakers.

    The “dropouts” were worst to Canada, and seemed almost like the duplexing would briefly quit working. It seemed smoother when only one person talked at a time. But it has never bad enough to be more than a slight annoyance to me so far.

  • http://www.antequeravillarental.com alienboy

    HP: so far i’ve been calling from Spain to the UK and USA but would use it a lot more for local calls too if i had more confidence in the sound quality.

    i think your suggestion about turning off the speakers may prove helpful , thanks.

  • http://www.skype.bm Buzzer

    I have been using Skype for PC to PC calls and DialPad to call any other telephone. I have found`this to be a very good combination. To get over the echo problem, I am using a handset sold by my company and this gives a much more natural feel to online conversations.
    This is not really a commercial as I sell only in Bermuda, shipping to the rest of the world is very expensive (but I will do it – this is the World Wide Web!)

  • http://www.tude.com/ Hal Pawluk

    “To get over the echo problem, I am using a handset sold by my company and this gives a much more natural feel to online conversations.”

    Got a link so I can at least see what it looks like 😕

  • http://www.skype.bm Buzzer

    Did not want to sound too commercial!
    You can see it at http://www.skype.bm or http://www.bermuda-voip.com
    Handsets will work with Skype and/or DialPad and others.

  • Michael Guilhaus

    I was very excited about skype at first but I am now very bothered by the echo problem using Skype and skype out. Even though I use a Logitech HS01-V14 Bluetooth headset (purchased solely for use with Skype) people I speak to complain about a prominent echo of their voices at about 0.5 seconds delay. This is not a speaker issue and it is makes the calls barely viable in my opinion. If anybody knows what causes this echo or if it can be avoided, please let me know. I am using a Mac G4 PowerBook and have a very fast Ethenet connection at a University in Australia.

  • Dave

    This logitech product is a peice of crap IMO.

    I have tried using a dlink usb hub. Cause problems I thought compitibility.

    I have refered to the manual time and time again.

    I have just tried talking over it with my mum, using a Logitech USB hub, and it keeps just shutting the connection.( Is this a silent detection…I dont know).

    I use a blue tooth logitech keyboard and mouse and the amount of trouble with these is very few and far between.. My productively has increased in this matter.

    THis logitech device even though I have had it for about a month, will be returned, and a item of equality will be taken if some idiot tries to blame my understand of how to use it.

    Fucking flashing lights to indicate the status while its attached to your ear. Did logitech just drop a think tank on this one!

    Do Not purchase this product without 100% garantee..

    I wouldnt even try selling it on EBAY as it is.. Quite Simply Useless…(how the hell anyone has mantained a connection with skype is beyond me..) and having to put the 0000 key each time you pair is just as lame(Can imagine someone in the office seeing 0000 key pair and hacking into the headset)

    Article said in angry after hours of frustration, and months for that matter.

  • http://www.ipvaani.com Ramesh..

    Hi,

    Normally I use Skype to talk with my friends. Because they know how to use computer. But with my family members in India I took IPvaani. Best part of this is, now they can also call me at any time. Voice clarity is very good and no monthly charges or any extra chages. Thanks to Skype and IPvaani.

  • George

    New Way of Web Communication- Qnext

    Qnext presents new way of Web Communication. It is extensible IM client that keeps you connected to all popular IM’s (ICQ,MSN, AIM, Yahoo). This means that you need to run only one IM to stay connected to all your online friends and colleagues. You can also Talk Online anywhere around the world for free and host a live Video Conference or Transfer Files of any size with complete security. This is a possibility to stay connected to your online buddy lists on other IM clients. Qnext allows also connect with other users around the world using Qnext’s IRC service. Its Jukebox service gives you private access to streaming music without the hassle of downloading files. It also included a powerful remote access service that gives you fast, easy and secure access to your computer from anywhere in the world using QnextMyPC. Qnext is a free software product that can be downloaded from Qnext Web site.

  • http://www.voipreview.org/Business_Telephone_Systems/SIP_trunking.aspx SIP

    I use the Logitech USB Desktop Consumer (on my G5)and never have issues. Crystal clear and most of my calls are overseas.