Yahoo! Messenger with Voice
Integrated with the latest version of Yahoo! Messenger, Yahoo! Messenger with Voice offers one of the most affordable rates for overseas calls thus far, with a clarity that could rival your own mobile phone. Believe us—we’ve tried.
Other Features: Instant messaging; PC-to-PC video and audio conversations; the capability to transfer your files and share your photos with other users; the option to send text messages to mobile phones; games; quick access to your Yahoo! email account; and a voicemail feature.
System Requirements: Microsoft Windows 98/2000/Me/XP; a Pentium class processor; Microsoft Internet Explorer (version 5 or later); at least 64MB of RAM; a non-proxy connection to the Internet; a microphone; sound card; and speakers; DSP Group TrueSpeechTM audio compression (CODEC) software; and a valid credit card.
Total Cost: To make PC-to-Phone calls, you will need to sign up for either a SGD$15 or SGD$40 prepaid account. The rate for local calls is SGD$0.019 per minute for both LAN lines and mobile phones. Check their complete list of international rates here: http://sg.voice.yahoo.com/phone_rates.php.
Ease of Installation: The service can be installed in a simple three-step process and will take you no more than a couple of minutes.
Ease of Use: Yahoo! has always prided themselves on their user-friendliness. Even the most hesitant technophobe shouldn’t have a problem working the service.
Conclusion: Still thinking about whether to try out Yahoo! Messenger with Voice? Why? It’s incredibly affordable, and it’s downright fun to use.
Best known as the Estonian-based company behind the controversial file sharing service Kazaa, Skype is Yahoo!’s closest rival with Skypeout, its own PC-to-Phone program. Not only available through prepaid accounts, but also the alternative of price per minute rates, Skypeout is more suitable for anyone who doesn’t use VoIP as often.
Other Features: PC-to-PC audio and video capabilities; a voicemail service; an instant messaging (IM) function; and, most importantly, automatic encryption for everything that is sent out through the program to ensure a strict level of safety and privacy.
System Requirements: Windows: a PC running Windows 2000 or XP (though the video feature requires Windows XP); an Internet connection (broadband is recommended); a webcam for video calls; at least 400 MHz processor; 128 MB of RAM and 15 MB free disk space. Mac OS X: Macintosh computer with G3, G4 or G5 processor; Mac OS X v10.3 Panther or newer; 128 MB of RAM; 20 MB free disk space on your hard drive; and an Internet connection. Linux: a 400 MHz processor; 128 MB of RAM; 10 MB free disk space; a sound card, and an Internet connection. Pocket PC: Windows Mobile 5.0 or 2003 for Pocket PC; 312 MHz processor and your device should be WiFi, 3G or EDGE enabled. Regardless of the system you’re using, you will, of course, still need a valid credit card, speakers and a microphone (or a headset).
Total Cost: Prepaid Skypeout accounts are available at €10 (SGD$20) and €25 (SGD$50). The rate for local calls are €0.025 (SGD$0.051) per minute for LAN lines and €0.029 (SGD$0.060) for mobile phones. Check their complete list of international rates here: http://www.skype.com/products/skypeout/rates/all_rates.html.
Ease of Installation: The only hitch we can think of is, when choosing a prepaid account local users might be turned off by prices being presented only in Euros, proving to be a slight inconvenience before deciding on the most suitable option.
Ease of Use: Getting used to the program is no problem at all; the interface is as friendly to new users as is possible.
Conclusion: Focused more specifically on making VoIP accessible to the uninitiated, Skype is a pretty good place to start for those of you who are still uncertain of PC-to-Phone calling.
The good thing about Net2Phone is that unlike Skypeout or Yahoo! Messenger with Voice, you decide how much money to add into your PC-to-Phone account. You might want to plan wisely though, as after 90 days, your funds in the account will expire if you don’t make any calls. The sound quality has kept up with the standard over the years, so clarity is not a problem and the program’s interface is pretty straightforward to use.
Other Features: PC-to-PC and IM, as well as a PC-to-Fax function.
System Requirements: Windows 95/98/2000/Me/NT/XP; a sound card; speakers and microphone (or a headset). Once again, a valid credit card is a must.
Total Cost: The amount of money you put into your account depends on you completely. The rate for local calls is US$0.079 (SGD$0.128) for LAN lines and US$0.15 (SGD$0.24) for mobile phones, as well as US$0.10 (SGD$0.16) for local faxes. Check their complete list of international rates here: http://dcs.net2phone.com/consumer/commcenter/rates.asp.
Ease of Installation: The process is pretty clear-cut. Like Skype, however, all amounts are in foreign currency, but other than that don’t expect any hassle during set-up.
Ease of Use: New users should become accustomed to its ins and outs in no time.
Conclusion: Net2Phone seems content to be better known for its efficiency than its flashiness, and that works fine for its users, both new and old.
NetTelephone is one of the most focused VoIP services that we’ve come across, devoting most of its attention on PC-to-Phone functions. But all that attention does pay off, resulting in a very specific but well-rounded program. Oddly enough though, there is no option to make PC-to-PC calls.
Other Features: One of the most prominent features is the NetTelephone Incoming Call Service, which provides you with your own NetTelephone number that anyone can call in to. Web CallBack allows you to make your international calls using your LAN line or mobile phone. The rates are higher than the PC-to-Phone function, but are still very reasonable.
System Requirements: Windows 98/Me/NT/2000/XP; 33 kbps+ Internet Connection; a NetTelephone Calling Account; a headset, and a valid credit card.
Total Cost: Local calls will set you back US$0.022 (SGD$0.036) for both LAN lines and mobile phones. A Web CallBack local call from one LAN line to another would cost US$0.044 (SGD$0.071). Check their complete list of international rates for calls and faxes here: http://www.nettelephone.com/callingrates.html, while Web CallBack rates are available here: http://www.nettelephone.com/nettcallback.html.
Ease of Installation: It’s a pretty basic set-up, with the exception of the currencies being in US dollars.
Ease of Use: The interface is pretty basic, so it shouldn’t be anything out of the ordinary for any kind of user. The Web CallBack may sound a little complex when they explain the process to you on the site, but it won’t be long before you get the hang of it.
Conclusion: If you’re looking for a program that mixes all sorts of methods of online communication, you’re in the wrong place. But anyone interested solely in PC-to-Phone calling is going to find NetTelephone perfectly suited to their needs.