I just have to say that there are some really cool things out there and some really useful services that I am pretty impressed with.
To start off with, I am a big fan of Skype – especially since I got a nice webcam – the Microsoft VX-1000 Life Cam. The camera hangs nicely off the top of my LCD screen on my laptop, and in combination with Skype, I get to speak and be seen by people all over the planet. If I’m lucky (or if their brother brought them one back from the USA), they have a camera too, so we get to see each other. It’s great to be able to spend a minute or two – or more! – with people that aren’t around at the moment.
Another service which I use – which is a little less free – is Jajah. This service allows me to place calls to people around the world that may not have a computer, an account with Skype or just no microphone/camera. In any case, in comparison to Skype, there are some distinct differences – the main being that the call is conducted via your regular telephone – not the computer. The Jajah service calls you – so it’s an incoming call, and then calls your destination party – another incoming call.
The rates for most calls from landline to landline are pretty competitive – from about $0.034 per minute to most of the locations I care about to call. Skype trys to market that their calls are cheaper, by showing them in euros – 0.017euro, which is reallt more like $0.022 – still cheaper than Jajah – but is subject to a per-call connection fee of about 4 cents.
Also, Jajah has developed a cool mobile phone client that allows you to install their software on your phone, then use your GPRS data plan (if you have one) to perform the initiation of a Jajah call right from your mobile phone – so you don’t even need to be near a computer to use their service.
Overall, I use both services when I need to. When I need to make a nice voice call in the USA or to Israel, I hit Jajah’s web site and then answer my phone. When I’m just chatting with whomever is online, or want to make a video call, I have Skype for that.
So hopefully I’ve told you about something you didn’t know before, and maybe you’ll write back with your favorite on-line services. I’m interested in knowing if there’s another good service out there that I have yet to uncover.