Talk is cheap, and sometimes free
"Talk is cheap" is defined by www.usingenglish.com as, "It's easy to talk about something but harder to actually do it." Well this writer doesn't talk cheap, but instead, cheaply talks.
In this age of digitizing a face, a body a voice for money, it is good to know that you can still keep in touch for $0.00 or at least close to that. You don't need the top of the line cell or smart phone, you don't even need a land line phone. What you do need is an up to date desk top or laptop, a headset (either corded or wireless), a high speed internet connection and the software you want to chat with. A web cam is optional.
First of all, lets go with the best news and that is the latter half of the title; "......and sometimes free". When I say free, I mean free, no credit card needed and no upfront or required purchase to talk (aside from the last paragraph telling you what you need).
The two best (opinion only) best chat clients for FREE voice and webcam enabled chat are:
- Yahoo Messenger (download it at www.yahoo.com/messenger)
- Windows Live Messenger (download it at www.tinyurl.com/livemess)
They both have close to the same amount of followers, so at this point, one is probably not more popular than the other. They both allow for free PC to PC Calls with or with out a webcam. Windows Live Messenger is by Microsoft and is part of the www.live.com free suite that is offered there. Keep in mind, that since it is by Microsoft, it is available almost error free on any modern windows platform
Yahoo Messenger on the other hand boasts two more (pay for) useful features. They are the ability to accept incoming calls from landlines and the ability to make outgoing calls to landlines with your own phone number. At the time of writing this article, the cost for a yahoo phone number to accept incoming calls was $2.99/month billed monthly, or $29.90 billed annually. I have used it in the past and the clarity was crystal clear. One caviat though, is that you NEED to have your computer on and be signed into yahoo messenger to receive calls. Whether you are signed in or not, a missed call goes to voice mail and you are notified at sign on. You can listen to them right from the messenger start up screen. As for making calls, PC to PC calls are free always. If you want to make a PC to a land line call, it is $0.01 per minute in the US. You need to pre pay $10.00 minimum.
Text (typing) chat is on both systems and is readily used.
There are a couple of honorable mentions here as well.
- ICQ (I seek you) www.icq.com has also been around for a while and is a text chat veteran. Their video chat and voice chat is relatively new, but appears to have good sound and picture quality
- AIM (aol instant messenger) www.aim.com basically is AOL messaging only. Again, a solid veteran of the chat world
Now lets look at a couple of pay for clients that also boast some great features.
- Vonage, www.vonage.com has come a long way since its inception and boasts crystal clear quality and reasonable pricing. You will get your own portable number with E911 features as well. Yahoo Voice does not offer this. They have attractive sign on deals which will entice you. I simply say read the fine print and keep in mind, their monthly fee, may be equal to others yearly fees.
- Paltalk www.paltalk.com is a great free client with great pay features. For free, you can do voice and limited web cam transmission and viewing. For $14.95/month, or a graduated yearly fee structure topping out at $149.95/yr various levels of viewing and pc to pc calls are included. The picture is great, the voice clarity is great, so why not.
- Magic Jack (www.magicjack.com) is the most portable of the pay systems. It plugs into any available USB port and a phone plugs into that. Best of all, your phone number fits in the palm of your hand. If you travel, this is a must. It is USB based, not country based. So if you live in the USA and travel to europe, you can plug it into any pc over there and talk away.
So there you have it, cheaply talking, not talking cheaply is out there, and I just showed you where.