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If I were to write this article without any rules it would basically be one long drool-fest over Skype.
I decided I would create some rules. This article will consist of:
a) 5 great things about Skype
b) 5 not-so-great things about Skype
c) My overall verdict of Skype
d) A score out of 100% on the Displaced African scale
First of all: What is Skype?
Skype, in a nutshell is a service that allows you to make phone calls, from your computer or certain mobile phones, over the Internet. In addition to that, Skype also has services that allow one to:
a) Send instant messages and chat.
b) Send smses to phones.
c) Make video calls over the Internet.
One of the key distinguishing features of Skype is that users of Skype can have phone conversations with each other over the Skype network for free. Skype also offers competitive rates to call any country in the world.
I hope this is enough information to get a good grasp of what Skype is. If not then either:
a) Download Skype (it’s free) and play around with it. Maybe call me up for free on Skype; my username is masmilele.
c) Go to Google and learn a bit more about Skpe.
5 Great things About Skype
1) A lot of people use it: Even before you begin using Skype there are already 270 million people using it. If 100s of million of people all over the world, including myself and my family, are using Skype there must be a reason: It works!
2) Convenience: Skype is the only internet telephone service that also has a mobile phone component through a partnership with mobile phone provider 3. This means you can make free Skype-Skype calls from anywhere: the house, the bus, the porcelain throne room…..etc etc.
3) Cheap: It is $0.03 A MINUTE to call UK and US. Half of all the phone calls I ever need to make for less than the cost of….the cost of….nothing is as cheap as $0.03 in Australia. Calling Kenya (where the other half of Skype calls go) is about the same as calling using a phone card ($0.27), BUT I get all the added benefits that Skype brings to my life. To check out Skype rates check out the Skype website.
4) Topping up credit is easy: I use a debit card and this debit card is already linked to a paypal account (the same paypal account through which you can donate to the Displaced African by clicking on the ‘Make a Donation’ button on the right, wink ). This Paypal account is automatically linked to my Skype service. This means that all I need to do to top up my Skype credit (can either buy $16 or $40) is click one button and within seconds I have credit.
Contrast that with (brace for it) having to get out of the house, get in the car, go to the milk bar that’s closed, decide to go to the one further down the road, get there to find the only phone card is gone and eventually get a phone card three days later when you have even forgotten why you wanted a phone card in the first place.
Not good, me thinks!
5) Free calling: My cousin lives in Ireland and back in the day when I would call his cellphone and spend hours spewing weird diatribes about the world, the phone bill used to rack up quite some frequent flier miles. Fortunately now he uses Skype on his mobile phone and so all I need to do is get on my computer grab my headset and we can have a free conversation for hours complete with file sharing and discussions-that-were-formerly-known-as-diatribes.
Bonus: Has extra features that allow you to:
a) Record calls and save them as mp3s ( e.g. if you want to have your own podcast or radio show)
b) Have conference calls and group chats
c) Send free smses and instant messages to other Skype users.
d) Send smses to regular phones (which means you type faster because you are using a keyboard-though some people on the phone, you would think they are Bruce Lee)
5 Not So Great Things About Skype
1) You can’t use Skypeout on mobile phones: When you connect to Skype using a 3 Skypephone, ALL phone calls made -including international-outside of the Skype network are through the 3 network. This basically means that you can’t use Skype’s cheap rates when you are using 3 Skype phones. Instead you have to rely on 3 having great rates. This reduces the flexibility of international calls from your mobile phone.
2) The person using Skype must have access to the Internet: This pretty much restricts my grandmother and a lot of my extended family from getting in contact with me at Skype prices.
3) You can’t buy credit in cash: If there was a machine that could allow you to buy things on Amazon, ebay and Skype using cash I would use it. Sometimes you don’t have money in your account but you have cash at hand. This makes buying Skype credit less accessible.
4) Not all my friends and family know about it and use it: Only a few members of my family know about Skype. I would love to be able to make free Skype-Skype calls to all my friends and families (and readers). Hence the reason I am writing this article…So what are you waiting for? Get with it, and add me to your Skype phone book.
5) Using Headphones and Earphones May Cause Deafness: Use of Skype (especially over the computer) means that I use my headphones quite a bit. Apparently there are experts who say using headphones so much may cause hearing loss. Though this phenomena is predominantly associated with Ipods and loud music, I believe the same principles may apply for prolonged headphone use over Skype.
My overall verdict: The best way to make international calls and stay in contact with your friends who regularly use the Internet. A long way away from being perfect especially in terms of making the convenience of Skype universally accessible. On a selfish note, they could definitely reduce their prices on calls to Kenya.
The Displaced African score: 75/100
How to Get Started Using Skype
You can begin using Skype now by clicking on this link which will take you to the Skype website where you can download Skype for free and begin chatting with the other 270 million Skype users for free (don’t forget to add me to your Skype contact book, my Skype name is: masmilele)
I really enjoyed writing this review and I hope it was of some use to you. If you would like to see more reviews of this nature, or you have products you would like me to review, then leave a comment below or contact me.
Be blessed and bless others,