Saturday, October 13, 2007

Skype - Essentially an Internet Telephone

A friend and I were talking about using voice chat over the internet. He was looking at something that his dad could use to talk overseas for free. I have a fair bit of experience with voice chat servers. I have used them a fair bit when playing computer games with my brother and my friends. I have used Teamspeak and Ventrilo a fair bit. They are great for running in the background while playing a game but they don't have the best sound quality. The other problem is that one of you has to run a server or else you have to pay money to get somebody else to host a server.

I have heard many good things about Skype. It is a free program that lets you talk over the internet just like you would on a telephone. You need to download a 22mb aplication (and so does everyone you wish to talk to.) A microphone and an internet connection and away you go. It also looks like you can call real phone numbers using Skype as well (but not for free).

On any of these programs always take a minute or two to set up the microphone. It seems that every microphone seems to record at different levels. Expect to take a few minutes online during your first phone conversation to get the levels set up right. I find that the quality of the microphone makes a real difference. Chances are you won't be all that happy with the bargain bin microphone. I am not saying to go out and spend a fortune on a microphone. I use a Logitech headset that I bought for about $40. I prefer to use a headset. If you use a desktop microphone and your computer speakers sometimes the microphone will pick up the sound from the speakers. The other party in your conversation will hear themselves talking back to themselves through your microphone.

Check Skype out. Be cheap and talk over the internet for free.

1 comment:

DesRoches Family News said...


Skype is one of my favourite tools. My brother and I use it all the time to talk to each other.

I have just finished planning an online course with a teacher-librarian in Osler - we talk, chat, drop each other links, take notes and work together on our site while on Skype. It is has allowed us to work together while at a distance.

I think it would be a great tool for second language learning.