Skype celebrates seven years – gives away 400 free landline minutes!

Hard to believe that Skype has already been around for seven years, and as part of their birthday celebration, they are giving away 400 free landline minutes to a variety of countries.

There is some fine print worth paying attention to, because after that first free month, they’ll start billing you monthly. Still, even once they start charging your card, you’ll be paying around $4/month for those minutes which is not a bad deal at all.

Now Skype is available on Android, this could be a great way to make perfectly cheap calls abroad when you are traveling (hint: Skype has been hacked to work over 3G when in the US). Head on over to their birthday site, pick a country, and enjoy your free talktime.

Skype celebrates the World Cup with a month of free phone calls to one country

Are you a Skype user? If not, you may want to sign up today, because a new promotion from this Internet phone service is giving away a free month of phone calls to one of 32 different countries. In the fine print, you’ll see that “a month” actually equals 120 minutes, but if you have someone heading abroad this summer, 120 minutes could be the difference between free or a a $100 phone bill.

The free calls can be made to landlines only, and the deal is only available to the first 100,000 people that sign up, so don’t delay! You’ll find the Skype free calls football promo here.

Skype introduces new monthly calling subscriptions to 170 countries

As summer approaches, being able to make affordable phone calls becomes more important than ever. Even though many of us rely on Twitter, Facebook and Foursquare to stay in touch, there are still plenty of situations where you need to pick up the phone.

Skype has always been a great solution for this – but their service just got even better thanks to a lineup of new subscription based calling plans. Starting tomorrow, Skype is rolling out calling plans to more than 170 countries that provide callers with a savings of up to 60 percent compared to their standard Pay As You Go rates.

With the new subscriptions, Skype offers users the flexibility to customize their calling plans in just three easy steps:

1. Select the countries you want to call
2. Decide whether you want to call mobile phones, landlines or both
3. Choose the plan that best suits your needs from 1-month to 12-months or 60 minutes to unlimited

These new subscriptions start as low as $1.09 per month and offer effective rates as low as $.01 per minute to almost any destination around the globe.

With these new plans, you’ll be able to make unlimited calls, often for less than the cost of a single minute of international mobile roaming. To make Skype even better, Verizon Wireless customers can install Skype Mobile on a variety of 3G smartphones.

Skype video call saves wedding messed up by volcanic ash

A couple stranded in Dubai by the Eyjafjallajokull volcanic ash managed to save their wedding day and share it with family and friends – all thanks to the generosity of their hotel, and Skype.

The took their vows in front of hotel guests and a webcam equipped laptop broadcast the event to friends and family back in the United Kingdom.

Best of all, the celebration was shared with other hotel guests who had been stranded for days – and since everyone loves a wedding, some guests even helped out with hair and make-up for the Bride.

I’ve been a long time fan of Skype, and always use it when I’m on the road – the video communication part of Skype is a fantastic way of staying in touch with my family and free Skype to Skype calling has saved me thousands in international calling charges.

According to the Sydney Morning Herald, the hotel even decorated the lobby and made a three tier wedding cake.

For those that have never used Skype – I highly recommend taking it for a spin. With Skype on your laptop, desktop or even on your mobile device, you can make free calls to other Skype users, or very cheap calls to landline and mobile numbers. In addition to voice calls, Skype also does hassle-free video calls in very high quality, without having to deal with networking issues.



Business class hands-free Skype calls with the Polycom C100S Communicator – the Gadling review

Anyone who has spent any amount of time in the corporate world has probably come across a Polycom SoundStation conference phone. There is a simple reason for this – Polycom phones are the best in the world when it comes to allowing people to sit around a conference table making a phone call.

The Polycom C100S takes the professional speakerphone quality from those large desk phones, and turns it into a compact travel friendly speakerphone.

The C100S operates off USB, so you don’t need to worry about power adapters or other cables, plus its USB cable winds up nicely under the phone. The speakerphone itself is extremely simple to use – you download the latest version of the Communicator software, enable Skype to work with it, and start making phone calls.

The Communicator software lets you check for updates, check audio settings and perform diagnostics on the unit itself. Once installed, you don’t really need to use the application as all functions are controlled from within Skype.

The buttons on the Communicator control Skype – you can start Skype, mute the microphone, hang up a call and of course control the volume of your call. On the side of the unit is a headphone jack, which is great if you want to have a call without everyone around you listening in. With headphones, the unit still operates as your microphone.

Audio quality is exactly what you’d expect from a device with the Polycom name on it – fantastic. The C100S features dual microphones and the same kind of audio technology found in their desk phones. I made several hours of calls with the C100S, and nobody on the other end of the call could even hear that I was calling them from a speakerphone.

I tested the Communicator on Windows XP and did notice an issue with an echo cancellation setting. In Windows, the default setting for audio devices is to let Windows handle echo cancellation – when enabled, this interferes with the speaker since it has its own (much better) audio circuitry. Once I turned the setting off, audio was perfect.

The Communicator C100S is designed for Skype, but it will work with any application that allows you to change the speaker and microphone source (including business applications like Cisco IP Communicator). These third party apps don’t support the call hang up button, but the mute and volume buttons function perfectly.

And finally – even though Windows 7 is not officially supported, it works exactly as it should, including the use of the call control buttons for Skype.

Fantasic Polycom grade sound quality, compact, good looks
CONS: Pricey

The Polycom C100S Communicator is not a cheap gadget – its MSRP is $149.99, but you can find it at most Polycom retailers for well under $120. Obviously, this price puts it out of reach of anyone who just wants to make a couple of vacation phone calls.

If you use Skype (or any other softphone app) for business calls, the C100S is one investment worth making, especially if you value good quality calls and don’t want the people on the other end of your call to think you are calling from underwater.

You’ll find the Polycom C100S Communicator at your favorite online vendor, for a list of vendors, check out the product page.