Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Lost in the Voip

 Living in Hungary and being the tight-arse I am, I'm keen to keep the phone bills down to the UK where I originally came from. There are a number of options but I'm most keen on the free stuff.

From what I see on the net, the options are the normal messengers of Yahoo, MSN, AOL/AIM. Plus the hyped up Skype.

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There's also Tele2 isn't free but it's dead easy, cheaper than the normal telecom and it uses a normal phone. All that needs to be done is dial 1502 before the normal number you'd dial. Quality can be good, can be choppy, but generally it feels like a proper telephone conversation. Been using this for most local and international calls but it's not whole lot cheaper internationally so I'm hoping to bring that price down even further.

I have logins for all of the main instant messengers and all of them now offer some sort of voice chat, webcam conferencing and even PC-2-Phone calls. So I thought I'd give them a try.

I sort of understand the hype with Skype but I think it's more to do with the fact that they "educated" the market and so everyone thinks they're the first or main provider of this stuff. From what I see it's the same functionality if not less than the other messengers. It has PC-2-Phone and PC-2-PC voice chat (no webcam). Now that we're living in the broadband internet age, I'd really like to see the people I'm talking to. Webcam would definitely be nice. Then there's the reports I have from others that have tried it range from "Okay-ish" to "Complete crap". So Skype is lower down on the list for me.

I'm a moderately sized fan of Yahoo Messenger and MSN Messenger. They offer a dead simple interface for normal text chat with an easy route up to voice chat and webcams. It seems they do PC-2-Phone as well but I prefer free to cheap.

Tried Yahoo back in January while away from home. It seemed to be good. I could voice-chat fine with the lovely lady but while the camera worked, it kept freezing up on me. I think that might have been more to my old laptop than the software or connection. Then tried again a few days ago to get in touch with the parents back in the UK. Perhaps this time the connection was dodgy but it was worse. Voices were distorted to a comical degree with one person sounding like a slurring baritone and another (male) like a high-pitched little girl. I'm half inclined to think it's a feature to protect the users' anonimity.

Oh well. I'll try it again I'm sure but also look into the MSN and AOL/AIM route. Netmeeting was also discussed but I think this is old tech now and has been replaced by MSN. Another thing to look into.

Probably more posts coming up about this as I carry on experimenting.

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