Jan 07 2006
I have been increasingly using Skype and decided to share my experiences to date:
- Closest I have had to the perfect phone while working from home, but still issues that I have to work around
- I can sit at home with my headset on listening to music, watching videos and making and taking calls in considerable comfort
- I have a very long headset cable so I can move around quite freely
- I can wind up the volume for telephone calls so that I can always hear people, I can use the in-line volume control for my headset and the dedicated keyboard keys for this which makes it very easy
- I can easily forward calls from my Treo to my Skype-in number, which means I don’t get interrupted on calls and avoid the low signal strength issues I have at home.
- I have a single source of contacts for Skype (via the Outlook tool-bar), Lotus Notes and my Treo 650. I sync my contacts over to Outlook using DoubleLook.
- Its cheap, I make lots of calls to the US and Skype to Skype and Skype to Land-lines is excellent quality most of the time.
- When video is important Skypes integrated video is great.
- The kids love it, they use it to Skype each other and me from their rooms and to call their friends
- The ability to send voice mails instead of emails
- It’s IM is pretty good with history, search etc, Although nowhere near as good as Trillian Pro.
- I can use it on my Tablet – over wireless – from anywhere in the house
- Tools – Options – Hotkeys, enable hotkeys, I find mute and focus really useful
- Tools – Options – Advanced – ‘Enable contact list and history quick filtering’ – enables word wheel type searching, really great if you have a lot of contacts
- Tools – Options – Video – Disable – Start Video Automatically – uses too much upload bandwidth, only use video when you really need it, unless you have lots of upload bandwidth (I have 256K on ADSL)
- Registering for conference calls is a real problem. The DTMF tones that Skype generates are rarely recognised. I have tried several different conference solutions and never managed to get reliable results, sometimes I can connect first time, other times I give up after 10 tries requiring several redials! However it is possible Gizmo can do it and DTMF tone generators are more reliable.
- Skype breakup when CPU utilisation is high, this just means I have to keep a watch on my task bar, where I can see task managers CPU indicator, not a big problem
- Skype breakup when uploading screen changes in web conferences, this is Dependant on the software I am using, If I use Lotus Sametime with true colour then it is particularly bad and I have to learn not to speak when I flip slides for a few seconds.
- Poor quality when calling mobiles, especially internationally
- Best add-on so far is SkypeMuter which PAUSES Windows media player when you receive or make a call. Very useful, although on my machine it sometimes seems to just toggle Media player, ie it un-pauses it when you Start or Receive a call, but in general I think its great and its free.
- I have tried Pamela which promises to provide great functions including excellent voice mail and voice recording. I have had a couple of issues with it degrading the call it is recording though so for now I have disabled it until I have time to do more testing, however its definitely worth watching as it evolves.
- I was incredibly excited to find Unyte a free (for now) web conferencing product nicely integrated with Skype, it really is a 2 click product. I loved it and used it all day long when I installed it, but I am fairly certain that it somehow crashed by Netgear router twice that day! Again another one to watch to see if Unyte really was the cause. It really is a wonderful product. Also I noticed no voice quality issues when using it!
- A freeware DTMF dialer, which is more reliable than Skype. You can store up the DTMF strings you need and play them back on demand. In my case I have to take off my headset and put the microphone near the headset but it works 70% of the time, so its a big improvement.
- The Skylian plug-in for Trillian Pro so I can have one tool for presence and Instant Messaging
- Gizmo. Good voice quality, integrated recording, better DTMF support – sounds perfect so far! however dialling free-phone numbers costs money and its way to unstable crashing at least twice a day on Windows 2003 Server SP2.
- Windows Live Messenger (beta), Good voice quality – however dialling free-phone numbers cost money and no one else has it installed, so its not getting much use.