Monday, February 9, 2009

I love things for free.  I really, really love it.  And not that many things come for free these days.  Have you heard about SKYPE?  It's not new, by any means, but some folks don't have much use for it unless they are traveling or have friends and family in far away places.  This week, I travel to Vietnam for a good long time.  In order to stay in touch with my family, we have downloaded Skype on all the computers.  This way, we can not only talk with each other regularly, we can even see each other with the webcams attached to the computers.  Pretty cool.  I checked with my cell carrier to find out how much cell calls would be while I'm away, and I received the quote of $1.99 per minute.  Youch!  So with Skype, we can talk for free - big difference from $1.99 per minute.

Skype is available free to download.  Once installed, you can 'call' another computer that has Skype without any costs involved.  However, if you want to call a land line or mobile phone, you have to add some money to an account, though the charge for these calls are a fraction of the cost of typical calls, phone to phone.  If you do want to add money to an account, the only stipulation is that you use the account at least once per year to keep it active (I did this just by calling my home phone once for about .10).  

For quality, I can't say that I would prefer this type of calling over your usual phone conversation.  It is wonderful to see people when traveling, or when they live far away.  I do find that I have to speak up quite a bit when talking as my computer microphone may not be as strong as if I had a separate mic.  And you do notice a delay from when you speak to when the recipient hears it (you see your own image on the screen as well).  But on the whole, these issues are small and insignificant compared to being able to communicate with loved ones.

Being far away from family is challenging and lonely.  Being in touch will be so much more wonderful now that we have Skype.

No comments: