Skype alternatives

On: October 13, 2007
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About Laura van der Vlies
Laura van der Vlies is currently a New Media master student at the University of Amsterdam. After finishing the New Media bachelor program and finishing the propedeuse year CMD at the Willem de Kooning Academie in Rotterdam, this is the year to finally really learn the inside of new media today. This summer I participated in the Digital Methods Initiative. This really made me learn to use knowledge in a different way. With interests in the topic of journalism on the web and certain forms of censorship I hope to make valuable contributions to this blog.

Website
http://www.lauravdv.nl    

One of the great things about web 2.0 is making free phone calls to friends all over the world. Just turn on one of the programs that offer this service, make sure your friend is online too, and make the call. And it’s also possible to call for a lot less the amount that you used to, to a regular phone or mobile phone.
According to my own preferences I really like to use Skype. It’s easy, free, and almost all my friends use it too. But after some articles I read about Skype having a backdoor and not being all that safe, I decided to look for an alternative to call and talk with my friends for free. To my surprise there are loads of other programs out there that offer the same service.

Some examples:
Gizmo project
Google talk
iChat
Jajah
VoIPbuster
SightSpeed
WengoPhone

And on a rainy afternoon, I decided to just try some of them, to find out what’s the difference, and more important, which one is a good alternative for Skype?

* VoIPbuster: Their slogan sounds promising: If you like Skype, you will love the Voipbuster. As a Mac user I’m redirected to another page to download the program, Windows users are probably their most common users. The website is in Dutch, with some English explainations on it. Looking at the website the Voipbuster all of a sudden doesn’t sound so promising anymore. But don’t judge the book by its cover. After making an account you are redirected to the page to buy ‘credits’. So this isn’t a free service! Or is it? The website is really messy and it is even not clear how to download the program for Mac users. I have an account now but no program. After five minutes of going through the site I decided this isn’t my program for sure.

* Gizmo Project: Getting started is really easy. Just download the program and register. The program itself looks a lot like Skype again. A messenger service with group chat, easy to call people and not really something new. But according to the website there is a lot more to explore with Gizmo that i haven’t seen yet. Call recordings, map of the location of the caller and sound effects. It looks promising but I’m not convinced. It looks like a lot of extras that are unnecessary. Nice but not for me.
Gizmo interface

Gizmo

* Jajah: When you first enter the site it looks like you only have to fill in two telephone numbers and you can call right away. Maybe that’s the case, but only when you have a landline, which I don’t. So, I have to find another way to use Jajah. After viewing the demo and clicking around I found out this isn’t really such a good service. It’s only free when you use a landline and your friend is a Jajah user too. Otherwise you have to pay. And it’s not cheaper than using your regular phone. When I call with my mobile via Jajah to another mobile number in the Netherlands, it still costs me 29.6 cents. So Jajah,…. Nonoh!

* WengoPhone: Opensource software to make free pc to pc video and voice calls. The software is really easy to download and install afterwards. The interface looks almost exactly like Skype. It also has an option to send sms messages. Unfortunately I couldn’t test the application because there is not an option for a try-out call and I have no contacts yet. So far this seems like a good alternative for Skype.

* SightSpeed: The application took very long to download.
sightspeedAnd no, that wasn’t my connection. After the installation you have to change some settings and than the program is ready to use. The program doesn’t look so flashy like Skype. But it works really well. There is even an option to record video mails and messages to put on your blog. When you make a call you can record the call. The only disadvantages are the advertisements during a call and the fact that there isn’t an option to chat. But for making just phone calls this is my favorite! But now I have to convince other people to use the program too.

After trying five I quit. Sightspeed is really nice, but not a lot of people use the program. So either way I have to convince people to start using the program or just stick with the old one. Skype may have a backdoor, it’s still the most userfriendly way to call other people over the internet.

14 Responses to “Skype alternatives”
  • October 13, 2007 at 11:51 pm

    then, why convince them?

  • October 15, 2007 at 10:01 am

    The website is in Dutch, with some English explainations on it.

    >> klik eens op het engelse vlaggetje boven aan de page?

    dus snap niet zo goed wat daar het probleem is?

    blijkbaar is het aretikel trouwens erg gebruikers-georienteerd. toch, en ik neem aan dat jullie daar toch wel over nagedacht hebben, is voor gebruikers 1 ding het belangrijkst: goedkoop bellen.

  • October 15, 2007 at 10:03 am

    plus: After trying five I quit. Sightspeed is really nice, but not a lot of people use the program.

    why write the article when you haven done proper research of the market? if you really want to write a good article about voip solutions i think you should look at at least the top 10-15 providers.

  • October 15, 2007 at 10:21 am

    @julien

    Inderdaad, het belangrijkste is dat mensen goedkoop kunnen bellen. Maar, ik wil niet goedkoop bellen, ik wil gratis bellen. Dit is wat met Skype kan en dus wil ik dit ook met een ander programma kunnen doen. Misschien is het vergelijk met Voipbuster dan niet het beste idee. Maar neem dan ook niet als slogan ‘If you like Skype you will love Voipbuster’.
    Wat betreft de website, ik heb inderdaad over de vlaggetjes bovenin heengekeken. Maar de site die ik voor me had was de nederlandse, en hierin stonden ook engelse teksten. Als je dan verschillende pagina’s maakt voor verschillende talen, houdt je hier dan ook aan.
    Nogmaals, mijn bedoeling is niet om een negatieve review van een programma te maken. Ik heb een aantal programma’s bekeken en kwam tot de conclusie dat ik Skype niet zo slecht vind. Meer dan 5 verschillende programma’s had ik hier niet voor nodig. Maar dat is MIJN mening. Iedereen is vrij om zijn eigen mening te hebben. Ik stel voor, iedereen, probeer zelf de verschillende programma’s uit en vorm je eigen mening.

  • October 15, 2007 at 1:50 pm

    @julien [in english]

    The most important is the fact that people can call cheap. But, that’s not what I want, I want to call for free. This is the main functionality of Skype so this is what I want to do with another program aswell. Maybe a comparison between Skype and Viopbuster is not such a good idea. But then again, don’t take ‘If you like Skype you will love Voipbuster’ as a slogan.
    According to the website, indeed I didn’t notice the flags for different languages. But the version of the site I read had both dutch and english texts. So, if you make pages in different languages, stick to the different pages and don’t mix them.
    Again, it was not my idea to write a negative review about the program. I’ve looked at different programs and came to the conclusion that i like Skype the most. And that didnt take more than 5 programs to figure out. But, again, that MY opinion. Feel free to try the programs and judge yourself.

  • October 17, 2007 at 7:26 am

    I love my Mac and it is important to me for programs to be Mac friendly. I like the fun features that programs like Gizmo offer. Yes, they may be unnecessary, but they make the entire experience a little more exciting and a little more personal. However, I would rather have a product that is easy to use, and has great video and sound quality. After all, I really just want to connect with people in the most “true to life” way as possible. After trying some of these programs I prefer SightSpeed over the rest. Yes, Skype is more popular, but it has much less to offer. You are right, I do have to promote SightSpeed as it is not as popular as some of these other services. But, I have no trouble convincing my friends to contact me on the program I want to use and I would rather use the program I like best, than settling for a mediocre version just because it is more popular.

  • October 28, 2007 at 7:13 pm

    […] addition to the article of Laura, I’d like to add another Skype alternative: Fring. Fring is a free mobile VoIP application which […]

  • October 29, 2007 at 5:06 pm

    […] nice addition to previous posts on this blog by Laura en Daphne on ’skype alternatives’, here a pro-skype announcement. Today, mobile phone […]

  • April 6, 2008 at 9:07 am

    I have been delighted with Skype’s service until comparatively recently and I am not referring to their ‘major’ glitch of a few months ago and in fairness the item which caused me most of my problems at the time was not of their making but I was very annoyed with their responses to my complaints simply because they did not address the issues I had raised and were patronizing to say the least in their attitude. But only yesterday they really ‘blotted their copy book’! the problem began with not being able to sign on because somehow my password had been changed and whilst it is easy to relate the sequence of events in a few sentences, at the time (Approximately 2 hours!) it was extremely annoying and the barriers which kept on appearing when trying to solve the problem were irritating and extremely annoying and in fact the situation has still not been resolved and I have never received so much as an acknowledgement from Skype of my predicament never mind an assurance that they will resolve the matter for me ‘as quickly as possible’! Why do so many internet companies I wonder make it so extremely difficult for their ‘valued’ (?) customers to get through to someone who a) has a genuine interest in being helpful and b) has a modicum of common sense and c) a genuine sense of urgency. It took nearly two hours to find a temporary solution to the problem and when I finally got back on line with Skype I discovered that my entire address book was gone. I concluded from this that maybe things might well be resolvable in view f the fact that i had had to sign on with a new ‘user’ name because my user name was ‘already taken’. I already have TWO unresolved requests for help with Skype both of which were dealt with by condescending staff who did not read the original request of assistance correctly and totally failed to help me resolve the problem and i have to confess I gave up because I do not like banging my head against a brick wall! Now, I have a third outstanding matter which is VERY URGENT as my address book appears to be GONE (Hopefully it is safe somewhere in the Skype system) and I need to communicate with my family on a very urgent basis due to family illness. Question: Don’t Skype offer a 24/7 service facility? Doesn’t anyone at Skype care about family illness and similar matters requiring urgent attention? Doesn’t Skype give a damn about REALLY satisfying their customers? Sadly I have come to the conclusion that they do not give a damn about anyone but themselves. So, who can I go as an alternative? Have Google thought about going into this business by any chance? I wish they would and then we might get some decent support and service from a company who really cares! In closing my situation is not made any easier by the fact that I am rapidly losing my sight as a result of Macular Degeneration- a condition/disease for which as yet, there is no remedy although there might well be an operation which might be possible in about 4 years’ time- if we’re lucky!

    So PLEASE Would someone be so kind as to either persuade someone at senior level in Skype to try and help me or find me another company who offers a genuine caring attitude towards their customers and not one who appears they to think they are doing their customers a favour by merely existing!. Oh Yes! please do not suggest Voipbuster- They are IMPOSSIBLE TO CONTACT and are a LOT worse than Skype. And they will not refund money not spent!

  • November 15, 2009 at 11:09 pm

    […] addition to the article of Laura, I’d like to add another Skype alternative: Fring. Fring is a free mobile VoIP application which […]

  • March 19, 2010 at 3:10 pm

    Hi Laura, thanks for you nice review!
    Maybe you want to check out our new service?

    Cheers,

  • July 3, 2010 at 9:26 pm

    […] addition to the article of Laura, I’d like to add another Skype alternative: Fring. Fring is a free mobile VoIP application which […]

  • May 13, 2014 at 12:17 am

    Skype is still the best!

  • September 12, 2014 at 8:54 am

    In addition to Skype, you may even consider using WebEx, Gotomeeting, RHUB etc. online meeting tools.

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