The Top Five Skype Add-ons

Skype is more than just a telephony client. There are many accessories that enhance the basic Skype functionality. Here are the ones we like the most

April 24, 2006

5 Min Read
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Being the webmaster of and the author of ‘Skype Me!' by Syngress Press I am often asked for my favorite Skype add-ons. Of course, a list like that depends on what you are trying to do. But I've gotten countless requests and advice about such a list from my family, friends and fellow Skypers. Based on their requests, and my personal inclinations, here's my list of the five top Skype add-ons.

One thing not mentioned in my list is the addition of video to Skype. But vide is now built in to Skype for Windows and there are additional video options available for Skype, so that is a topic for another article and my next book "Video Conferencing over IP" by Syngress Press due out in June 2006.

So without any further ado, Here's the list of my favorite Skype add-ons:

1. VoSky (Formerly Actiontec) Internet Phone Wizard (IPW)

www.vosky.comThis gateway or telephone adapter bridges the gap between using Skype only while sitting at your computer to using Skype anywhere in your home using the same cordless phone you use for landline telephone calls. There are other gateways available, but the IPW is rock solid and easy to use and install. If you want to be able to answer or make regular landline telephone and Skype calls from your sofa, this device if perfect for users that already have a installed cordless telephone setup. The IPW is not just for the Skype geeks, but also for Mom, Dad and even Grandma and Grandpa. It makes Skype as easy to use as a regular telephone, using the same cordless telephone you use now. The only requirement is that your cordless base will need to reside near your computer so that you can connect it to both the IPW and your computer. I also recommend that the cordless telephone base have an answering machine for additional functionality and flexibility. This will let you check your landline and Skype voicemail messages from anyone's Skype account or by calling your home and retrieving both your landline voicemail and Skype voicemail on the same answering machine device. You can even setup speed dial entries in your cordless phone to make Skype dialing even easier. This only works on Windows systems currently.

2. DualPhone Cordless Telephone For Skype

This is an alternative to the IPW. The DualPhone plugs into your computer via a USB cable and also into your telephone wall jack so that you can make and receive both regular landline calls and Skype calls from the same telephone. If you do not have an existing cordless telephone base or want to add a dual purpose Skype/landline telephone that is fully Skype enabled, this is a serious option to consider. The DualPhone also allows you to add three additional extensions to place anywhere in your home. You can scroll your Skype contacts right on the telephone display, so no interaction with your computer is necessary. The dual phone does not have an answering machine option so you will have to look for another voicemail solution. This only works on Windows systems currently.

3 NetGear WiFi Skype Phone the number one request I get is "How do I use Skype without leaving my computer on all the time?" One way is to use Skype with Wi-Fi. Two options are to use the Pocket PC with Wi-Fi like the Verizon PPC 6700 and the Pocket PC version of Skype, or the new NetGear Wi-Fi Skype phone that you can use anywhere you can get an open Wi-Fi signal. The NetGear WiFi Skype phone is portable and will let you make or receive Skype calls when you're near an open Wi-Fi hotspot. To use it in your home, you'll need to install a Wi-Fi network. You can also join a WiFi service like Boingo or use one of the many free WiFi hotspots worldwide.

By the way, if you want to use a Pocket PC with Wi-Fi and Skype, you need to have the proper processor, and the option to use a headset. For Smart phones with Windows Mobile 2003 or later and the proper processor and Wi-Fi enabled, you can add Skype to make a nice Wi-Fi Skype phone that can even make Skype calls over your cell provider's high-speed broadband network. I use a PPC 6700 from Verizon, (also available through Sprint) and it works fabulously as a WiFi Skype phone.

4. USB Telephones

Linksys USB phone

A USB telephone is clearly the option for those that are mobile road warriors with laptops or just want a telephone-like device to make Skype Calls from a computer. Just load the software for the USB phone, plug the USB phone in and make and receive Skype calls. USB phones are easy to use and gives you the same experience as a telephone. There are many vendors of USB phones, so look for ones with features that you want like a speaker phone option, speed dial, and similar options. A good choice is the Linksys USB phone. With all these phones, keep in mind that the more features, the more the cost. They are available in both Wintel and Mac versions.5 Pamela

So far all the add-ons I have discussed has been hardware, but there is one software add-on that stands out. Pamela is the most flexible and feature rich software add-on available for Skype. It contains a software answering machine, automatic answer chat messages, scheduling, and the ability to record Skype calls and upload them to Blogs or websites, called PamCasting. The professional version costs $21.50 USD and is well worth it.

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