Traditionally, people have relied on landlines and more recently mobile phones to keep in touch with their friends and loved ones. Sure, costs to call people interstate or internationally have come down over the years and mobile caps are helpful to a degree but you still end up having to bear the cost of communication.
What if you could use your Internet connection and computer to make high quality voice calls and perhaps see the person with whom you are talking – for free?
You might of heard of Skype which has very much become one of the big names in Internet voice and video communications. The application looks very much like any standard instant messenger and you can interact with your contacts in a number of different ways, including:
- instant messages,
- voice calls,
- video calls
- sending files,
- sharing your screen.
Getting started is as easy as double clicking on a contact to start an instant message session or right click on the contact to another method of communication.
Whilst in an instant message session, you can also start a voice or video call using the green buttons up the top. Call setups times are surprisingly quick and the call quality is much better than you’d get on a standard telephone or mobile phone. Video quality is dependent upon the webcam being used, the calibre of computer being used and the speed of the Internet connection. As long as you have a fairly modern computer and a broadband connection you should be fine.
Skype also has the ability to send and receive higher quality video but you need to use specific models of Logitech webcams (pretty much the higher end models). I happen to use the Logitech QuickCam Pro 9000 which includes auto- focus and RightLight technology which will improve the contrast of the video you are sending when the light is dim.
All you need is the other person to be using Skype with a headset and an optional webcam and you can be up and running without too much fuss at all. Best of all, it’s free!
You can also use Skype for making calls to traditional phones but you will need to buy Skype credit. Personally, I don’t use this as I favour my mobile for such calls as I am on a cap plan.
Skype is available for Windows, MacOS X, Linux and a variety of smartphones including the Nokia N900 and the iPhone. So give it a go, you might be able to save yourself a bit of money in the process!