Skype – http://www.skype.com
Some have said that the Internet has made the world a smaller place, and it has, giving us easier and more instantaneous forms of communication than we could have imagined even ten years ago. What it hasn’t done, until the past couple of years, is bring us closer together via one of the most important methods of human communication: our voices. So how do we bridge that gap from text to speech? How do we make the distance that little bit smaller?
Skype is one of the new generation of computer tools that can bring a friend that little bit closer. A light-weight and simple to install and use program, Skype offers voice communication that’s reliable and cheap. There are two ways to use the Skype software: You can talk free to other Skype users; or you can purchase time which allows you to use Skype to call almost any telephone in the world via VOIP (voice over IP) technology, even toll-free services – though calling to 900 numbers is not supported.
To use Skype, you talk though a microphone hooked in to your computer, and speakers to do the listening – both of which you can pick up very cheaply if you don’t already have them. Speaking of cheap, the rates for making calls to telephones via Skype are insanely good. I spoke to someone in Australia for approximately one and a half hours, and it cost me the equivalent of about $2 – $3 Canadian. You can’t beat that for economically attractive.
The sound is very clear, although I experienced a little bit of difficulty when using Skype to talk to people using cordless phones or headsets. Otherwise, both Skype-to-Skype and Skype-to-phone communications, were so clear that there were times I was amazed I was using a computer to do the talking.
The program is fairly straightforward and easy to install, but if you have any troubles or questions, the Skype website has very detailed installation and help information. There are also versions of Skype available for platforms other than Windows-based machines.
And best of all, Skype, the program itself, is free.