Though Skype has been on my radar for quite a while, I haven’t been motivated enough to try it out. But after reading an article on Neville Hobson’s blog about it, I thought I should bite the bullet and give the program a whirl.
Skype is an internet telephony program based on peer-to-peer (p2p) technology that allows people to communicate through their computer with great sound quality (they claim
a sound quality far superior to what you’re used to from ordinary telephones). The program is free to download, and the Skype-to-Skype calls are free. What more could you want? It also allows you to make calls from your computer (with a microphone and a speaker or headset) to a real phone anywhere in the world for a very small per-minute fee (approx. 2.6 cents).
I haven’t until now tried it out because I couldn’t think of any long-distance friends who were geeky enough for me to suggest it to without feeling embarrassed. But, if you’re reading this, you’re probably at least a little geeky. So, how about it? Are there any takers out there? I just need a friend or two to try it out with me. There are no drawbacks, as far as I can tell—except that it will take a little time to set it up and to actually make the call.
Skype is available for Windows, Mac OS X, and Linux. In addition to voice calls, it has instant message and file transfer capability. You can have multi-person chats and conference calls. And Mr. Hobson notes that they’re testing a voicemail feature as well. The only real disadvantage compared to regular phones, other than the fact that you’re tied to the computer during the call) is that other people can’t call a Skype account from a regular phone. So it wouldn’t work as a replacement for a regular phone, but it could be a nice complement. Did I mention that it’s free?
Update: After installing Skype last night, I used it successfully to speak with Paul VanderLei in South Korea and Neville Hobson in Amsterdam, The Netherlands. The sound quality was pristine. The cost was nil. A good time was had by all.