Skype full review

Not so long ago, running a business or staying in touch with far-flung friends and family guaranteed a huge phone bill. The internet and email changed this, but people still like to talk. VoIP (Voice over IP) services, such as Skype, offer a cost effective way to stay in contact both offline and online.

Installation and setup is simple. You then need to register for an account, which is quick and easy, and credit your account for SkypeOut calls – calls to non-Skype telephones (landlines and mobiles) which are dialled conventionally. You must subscribe to get a SkypeIn (currently in beta, but it worked fine in my tests) number, which can be dialled from any land or mobile line. You can also use your computer to speak with other Skype users for free. Additional features include instant messaging, file transfer, call forwarding (to any number using voicemail (15 for 12 months or free with a SkypeIn subscription), and four-way conference calls. Skype uses almost unbreakable 256-bit AES (Advanced Encryption Standard) security.

You may ask is iChat not enough? And the answer is no. Skype runs on Mac, Windows and Linux systems; it also allows users to make affordable calls to any landline or mobile phone worldwide. It lets you speak with anyone, even if they don’t have a computer. A SkypeIn account lets you receive calls (at normal caller rates) dialled from any phone – otherwise you can only be contacted by other Skype members who know your user name. SkypeIn makes Skype a useful adjunct to your existing communications system – it’s cheaper to use than a mobile phone (for both you and your callers), and more flexible than iChat.

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