Google Voice

15 04 2009

One thing nice about having a Google Mail (GMail) account are the fringe benefits you also get.  One of them is Google Voice.  This service gives you a free virtual phone number.

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Talk Is Cheap — Free Actually

11 07 2006

VoIP (Voice over IP), is a way to use the Internet to like a telephone.

Here is a quick rundown on what I recommend.

1. Phone to Phone.
I like Vonage. It’s the biggest one in this space right now. $16/mo. gets you 500 outgoing minutes to anyone in the US and Canada and unlimited incoming. $25/mo. gets you unlimited in/out. With Vonage, you get a real 10-digit phone number. Your analog phone connects to a gizmo (analog telephone adapter (ATA)), and the ATA connects to your DSL/Cable modem router.

Caveats. I suggest using Vonage as a 2nd phone line. Vonage’s service is subject to DSL/cable modem service outages and also Vonage’s own internal computer snafus. Vonage has gone down a few times — the worst one was for 3 days. I also do not suggest transferring your primary home number to Vonage. I’ve read of horror stories.

2. PC to PC.

If you’re on a PC and your friend is also on a PC, you’re in luck. Your call is totally free. These are my ratings in regards to quality of voice:

Landline: 10
Vonage: 9
Skype: 8
Gizmo Project: 7
typical cellphone: 7
Yahoo! Messenger: 6
Google Talk: 6

Caveats. Your PC and your friend’s PC must be on. You must also purchase a headset or a USB type phone (http://www.xactcommunication.com/Corded-Internet-Phones-24/XVP620-VoIP-Internet-Phone-118.html)
3. PC to Landline.

These type of communications are hit/miss. I tried one a while back (Skype), and the connection was unusable. I’m sure it’s better now, but be wary.