Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Friggin Fring

So my brilliant plan to beat the Comm system has kinda' worked.

I have a new cell phone. It's the Nokia E71. Not the new E71x that AT&T is offering. This is the one that's not stripped down.

It's a great phone. Very thin, very powerful. So my plan was, buy an unlocked phone, get a data plan only, and get both unlimited data and unlimited voice for about $40/mo. How? Voice Over IP, or Voip for short. Using programs like Skype, you can make calls out for cheap or free. Basically, if I can minimize my per month cost, and maximize my ability to make and receive calls, and not pay more than $50/month, that's the goal. This means we'll be getting rid of our landline too, once I get this figured out. So then Cindy will have her prepaid phone, and I'll have my phone, and that will be it.

Here's what I have to report. Skype Lite, which is the only version available for this phone, doesn't work. It's really stupid too. It requires you to have a voiceplan to make internet calls. What it does is it dials a local number and then forwards you to whatever number you're trying to call. What's the point?

So now I'm using a program called Fring. It's not terrible, but has some really annoying characteristics. But first, the pluses:
-It works. It hooks up to my Skype account, and on that account I pay $3/month for unlimited calls. So I'm able to use Skype out to make calls using Fring. The calls are crystal clear as well.
-Fring works great as an IM too. Pulls in GTalk, MSN, AOL, Skype, etc. And it pulls all your contacts from your phone too. So that's cool.

Here's where it starts to suck:
- There's a bit of a delay, about 2 seconds or so, in the calls. It's annoying. And it's the same if you're using 3G, Broadband, or WiFi.
- You can't use push button numbers while you're in a call. Meaning, if you are calling something and it says, "for such and such, please press 1". You can't do that using Fring.
- Haven't figured out how to access my Skype voicemail from Fring either.
- You can't just dial a number either. They have to be a contact in your buddy list or in your phone contacts.


Next, there's a program called Gizmo. It's pretty cool and uses the phone part of your phone to make internet calls. Also pulls from your contacts. You can dial any number. Basically it works like prepaid minutes. You put money on your account, you buy a phone number (one time fee), and then it's basically 3.9 cents per minute. The really crappy part is, it appears you can only use Gizmo if you're hooked up to WiFi. It won't work with 3G or whatever the phone's normal data plan is.


Some of you might be wondering about SIP. I haven't tried it yet. The whole point for me is to minimize my costs, and SIP just seems to be a way to connect everything... Except that I'll be dumping my landline. Still need to read up on this, but I'm open to suggestions.

If anyone else has any thoughts on how to accomplish my goal, please let me know. It's an interesting quest.


Saneha said...

Hi Don,

I have been following your site for a while and like they way you have reviewed fring VoIP here i would like to tell you about Vopium a Copenhagen based tech start up. Vopium works with VoIP and GSM based technology.

Vopium offers affordable internationals calls to mobile and landlines and helps slash phone bills significantly. At the moment the service is available in Europe, America and Australia and free 30 min calls and 30 sms at signup. More details on packages can be found at http://vopium.com/products.

We will appreciate if you review vopium services through your blog. Let me know if you want more information about our application I will be pleased to assist you.

Don Early said...

The problem I'm finding with Vopium is that since I don't have a voiceplan with my phone, I can't sign up for vopium. Not to mention that it thinks that US numbers are only 7 digits long when they're 10 digits.

Don Early said...

UPDATE: VoipVoip works awesome! No delay at all. Not sure if I mentioned, but Gizmo has a delay too. Problem with VoipVoip I'm having right now is that I can't seem to call on the 3G network, only on WiFi connection. Not too good. And if I want a number people can call me on, it's $6.99/mo. But it's 1.9 cents a minute, so $10 gets you about 500 minutes. Not bad.

Vopium could be cool if it could get it to work. Seems more geared towards international calls tho, and I don't really call anyone outside of the States.