Saturday, October 01, 2005

What's a Gizmo?

In the burgeoning VoIP market, a new breed of network has gained popularity. It's called Gizmo Project and according to their website, it's a free phone for your computer.

You may say, new? But what about Skype, Google and other free VoIP services?

Well you'd be right except for two important reasons:
  • features
  • open network
You see, Skype, the current leader in the "free" VoIP market (and recently purchased by auction giant, eBay) operates in a closed network. You can't connect to other VoIP networks through Skype, or vice versa.

On the other had, Gizmo Project is an SIP network, and can connect to other open networks using a unique SIP number assigned to you. You can use Gizmo Project as a "soft phone" application (like Skype) or add one of many SIP routers to be able to plug in any standard phone to your network. You can also find SIP phones that plug directly into an ethernet port on a standard router.

Many are calling Gizmo "the Skype-killer" with comments like "no comparison to Skype", "10 thumbs up" and "killer app for podcasting" among others.

Gizmo Project has many of the same features Skype uses (including low cost call in numbers and call out to any phone number service), but here's where Gizmo Project jumps ahead, in my opinion.
  • forward your calls to any other Gizmo user or any mobile or landline number (a feature just added to Skype's latest release)
  • add multiple accounts and numbers to Gizmo (Skype only allows one account, but multiple numbers)
  • Place callers on hold with on hold music of your choice
  • faster dialing and connecting calls
  • free conference calling with other Gizmo and mobile/landline users through
  • no need to add a "+" in front of phone numbers when dialing (Skype requires a "+")
  • built-in phone call recording, perfect for recording important conference calls, teleconferences or phone meetings. Recorded calls are saved in .wav format.
  • open network, call users in other open VoIP networks using their SIP numbers
OK, are there any downsides to Gizmo?

Well, not many, but there are a few:
  • voicemail is sent as a .wav file attachment to an email address of your choice. This may be a benefit to some, although I prefer the interface Skype provides that allows you to listen to all voicemail messages directly through the GUI without downloading. It's fast!
  • no automated contact import function
  • limited incoming call phone numbers. Currently only US and UK numbers are available. Skype offers a larger selection in up to 9 countries.
Gizmo Project uses the SIP Phone network, the company that provides the infrastructure and network.

The call clarity is excellent and if you don't have a comfortable headset, I recommend the mVox portable USB speaker. It's a USB device that connects to your PC and allows you to speak to callers using any VoIP application through it's built-in echo/noise cancelling microphone and speaker. It also has an earbud to allow you to keep conversations private as well.

If you want to test out your Gizmo, call me at my Gizmo account "markidzik".

Find out more about Gizmo Project and SIP Phone.

All the best!