Landline rates are reasonable, usually only a couple of cents a minute. This is because Skype makes the call from the closest location – it’s a local call for Skype, even if you’re dialing London from Perth.
Mobile calls are still charged at a relatively high rate – about 30c a minute. Blame the telcos for this.
Skype is at its best when calling Skyp-to-Skype – it’s free and has the best audio quality. Plus it supports video calls.
Skype 4 now (with your permission) trawls your email contacts for friends who are already on Skype and then offers to add them to your contacts list. Like Facebook, your friends have to confirm that you’re happy for you to call them.
It’s getting harder to fault Skype. The new interface is slick and clean and very easy to use. The costs are reasonable. With a webcam and a set of speakers, your PC becomes a powerful speakerphone with video, that can conference call and even send SMSs to mobiles. And with so many notebooks including WiFi and a webcam built-in above the screen, your Skype can even be cordless.
Problems with Skype now are usually problems with your ISP. If you don’t have enough bandwidth, calls can drop out. If your camera isn’t installed right, you can struggle to get video.
And as always, selecting the right audio inputs and outputs via the menu is still a little arcane. This needs to become an icon-based process, because at the moment it’s still a bit geeky.
Still, for now Skype is helping distant parents see their grandchildren grow up, is keeping long-distance relationship together, and is even helping small business communicate. What’s not to love?