Saturday, February 26, 2005

Review: Skype VoIP

Skype is not only one of the most popular software downloads around today, it's also an incredibly powerful (and inexpensive) communication tool.

Created by the same team that started KaZaA, Skype is a peer-to-peer tool that allows you to speak with other Skype users directly at no cost, regardless of their location. You can also transfer files, conference with 3 others or instant message.

The innovative part about Skype is its SkypeOut feature that allows you to call just about any phone number for about $0.02 a minute almost anywhere in the world (at this time). To use SkypeOut you just add a minimum of $10 US to your account and your calls are automatically deducted from your balance.

The software interface is intuitive, well designed and easy to use. I had it installed, account credited and making both phone calls and connections in just under 6 minutes. Everything went smoothly and I was impressed in how seemless the process was. Just plug in your headset and you're ready to connect. The call quality has been excellent, similar to cell phone and sometimes clearer than your local phone service.

An interesting thing to note is that if you're making a call out using SkypeOut, the caller ID shows the call from 012345 (or something similar). Be sure to mention this to those you call that screen calls or this is a great anonymous calling tool!

Note, you can't receive regular telephone calls (you aren't assigned a phone number) although you can receive connections from other Skype users.

Skype is a great service if you communicate with family, friends or business associates worldwide or want to reduce your outgoing mobile or long distance telephone expenses. Once you use Skype, you'll probably end up make most of your outgoing calls with it and receive your incoming calls on your mobile or land lines (my experience). With internet access almost everywhere you turn today, with your laptop and headset you can stay in touch just about anywhere you travel.

Overall I give Skype a big thumbs up and would highly recommend it.

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