Jun 17, 2010

Skype- the way to stay connected for free

With my impending departure for Japan, I have been seeking opinions of friends who have lived abroad for a period of time, on the different channels to stay connected to home. How to make overseas calls cheaply? Since I think for the first few months, and probably in winter, I would likely be making more overseas calls home than usual.

The very traditional way? It will be getting a telephone card. Actually *pai seh smile*, I did get one, when I was on holiday in Japan during April. But there's limited credit, and very restrictive options. I would need a public card phone which is near my apartment. Not a very smart idea during winter. Imagine, shivering in the cold while making a public phone call home.

Friends suggested other options such as Skype, MSN, VOIP phones, etc. Yup, there are actually quite a few options. Hence, when Daphnemaia invited me for the Skype event at CommunicAsia 2010, I took it up immediately. I would like to see and speak to the Skype people on this new technology and how it can help me ease my homesickness.

Founded in August 2003, Skype is a relatively young company, which grew from simply offering internet voice calls for individuals to now video and voice calls not only via desktop, laptop, but mobile phones and even TV! And of course, now it not only serves individuals, like you and me, but businesses as well.

Peter Parke from Skype showing us the latest features that Skype offers.

From 21 June 2010, Panasonic is the first company to work with Skype to offer video calls via TV screens. You would need to attach a web camera, and viola, the Skype software which comes with the TV set will complete the rest.

You can start to skype on Panasonic VIERA CAST from June.

And here's a fun tip, which you can try: hold the skype logo in front of the web camera of the TV set, and there will be animation hovering above the skype logo, just like the picture below.

In future, more companies, such as LG, will be working with Skype to produce more of such TV models. Thus, look forward to the future, where we skype with each other via TV/ iPhone/ Sony Ericsson smartphones using Symbian/ laptops/ desktops.

I was told that Nokia N900 was the first phone which allows video skype calls, too. Mmm.. I look forward to the day I can make video skype calls with my iPhone. :)

Btw, you can now make wifi and 3G calls using your iPhone Skype application, provided it's the latest version. Skype-to-skype calls on 3G will remain free till end of 2010. Wifi calls will continue to be free.

For more convenience, you can also pay a monthly subscription of about $1.09 per month to call any landline or mobile phones worldwide. It's really cheap, compared with making overseas calls using landline/ mobile phones.

Mmm.. I shall give skype a try when I'm in Japan. :)

And special thanks to Daphnemaia, for the invite!