Introduction and Skype

Skype has become an phenomenom providing free phone calls to users across the globe. There are keyboards with built-in Skype functionality and now you can find telephone handsets that work with Skype to allow calls away from your computer, this Asus AiGuru S1 Skype phone one of them.


Voice over IP has been around for several years now and technology enthusiasts are probably already well acquainted with it.  The most popular VoIP option is probably Vonage, as you might have seen their kooky commercials on TV.  The premise is simply to take voice information and transmit it through data connections (across the Internet) in digital format instead of in analog format over traditional phones lines.  The benefits of VoIP include low costs, the ability to call anywhere in the US and Canada (in some cases) without long distance charges, mobility and more.

Skype is one of the pioneers of the VoIP phenomenon, though they took a slightly different approach.

What is Skype?

Skype has grown considerably from its first introduction; starting purely as a PC to PC communication tool, it is evolving into a true competitor of Vonage and other retail VoIP solutions.  My first experiences with Skype were used to call my contacts in Taiwan without having to pay for expensive long distance.  Using PC speakers and a boom microphone, Skype allowed users across the globe to talk for free using your standard PC components and the Skype program.

Skype continues to offer this free PC to PC communication, but has added support for dialing out to normal land line and cell phones, support for having a real phone number attached to your Skype account so outsiders can call you on Skype, and support for voice mail, conferencing and other add-ons.

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The Skype client looks like a typical IM program, and in fact it shares many IM features.  You can text chat, file transfer and even video call.  Simply clicking on a contact that is online and hitting the call button initiates the Skype call.

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Conference calls are a snap, and another one of the big draws for Skype’s user base. 

Seems easy and straight forward enough, right?  Well what if you don’t sit in front of your PC all day and want to be able to answer any calls that might come in during the day?

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