Bloggers like Andy and Phoneboy have made mention of Gizmo Project growing pains and bugs. Sometimes timing is everything because I was just thinking that. Well, maybe I’m feeling a little cranky today. I haven’t seen the problems Andy and Phoneboy have, but I do see other Gizmo-related errors and general “not responding” messages regularly, and it’s getting me down.
I’ve also never been able to get GizmoCall to work for me at all despite numerous pleas to tech support and the forums. I reported on it’s launch but was waiting to give a user opinion. Never happened. I really think that Gizmo is going in the right direction with the additional services like SMS, web calling, integration with other IM networks. I recently decided to use Gizmo as my primary chat interface since I can integrate with MSN,Yahoo, Google, and others. A new features lets you import your MSN contact list into Gizmo at one shot instead of laboriously one by one. And Gizmo is SO easy to set up with the Nokia N95 which means I can use it to make mobile internet calls. I also use Gizmo to handle all my incoming calls through GrandCentral. Another big plus.
When the sun is shining you can overlook application not responding and other weirdness. But you can also get tired of making excuses. Sigh. I feel it’s kind of like a great outfit, love the color, the style, looks good on me, perfect for the occasion, but it doesn’t quite fit right.
One of the things I try to do on this blog is try things–new consumer VOIP products, downloads, etc. You can get commentary on industry news like who’s buying who, or who just closed shop, in places like GigaOm.
Admittedly, I don’t get to try a lot of hardware, just software mostly, but if you’re looking for that kind of thing, VOIP and Gadgets or Smith on VOIP are good bets.
But this week Andy Abramson, in Living with Softphones, posted a neat-and-tidy roundup of some VOIP tools he’s been using, and I like it because he lists only what he’s used (or experimented with), and explains how he uses them. I think this kind of post is really useful. Don’t you really wanna know just how you’re supposed to use all this stuff in the real world? I know I do. Thanks A. Alec Saunders also posts quite often on VOIP adventures with his Blackberry, and Phoneboy writes about handsets he’s using (because all other hardware is just too boring). Check them both out too.
For my part, I use on a regular basis:
Skype: for chat and calls to Skype buddies
Gizmo: for general softphone calling
PhoneGnome: for long distance calling to reg phones
SightSpeed: for video calls
GrandCentral: for simplifying inbound calling. I’m using it to funnel calls through my Gizmo account.
Fring: for mobile calls to Skype buddies (still experimenting mostly)
Since I cancelled Vonage in August, I haven’t signed on with another subscriber service. However, I’ll be trying one soon.
Gizmo Project announced today an new update to their popular softphone. Read reviews by Om Malik, Luca, and Tom Keating. The biggest addition is the ability to now call Windows Live and Yahoo Messenger contacts in addition to Google Talk, Jabber and other Gizmo users.
Today, if you’re already a Gizmo Project user you get the download and install the new version from the web site, click here. Sometime tomorrow or Thursday, the Gizmo folks will add an automatic install feature that prompts you to install the new version the next time Gizmo starts up. I like that.
As for using it, I’ve made a few test calls to Windows Live Messenger. Just enter the MSN ID in the call field, pretty easy. However the only way I can see to save a MSN or Yahoo contact to the contact list, is to select GoogleTalk in the Contact Type box. I don’t know if this is the intended use but….users don’t always do what they’re supposed to do…
On the receiving end, the incoming call didn’t look like me. It looked like GTalkToVoip was calling (who in the world is that?). Answering the call and hanging up seem fine, but after that, the whole process seemed to crash Windows Live (receiving end). I don’t use Windows Live for voice at all so I’m not an expert. In my opinion, you’re better off just inviting your friends to join Gizmo.
GrandCentral works like a charm forwarding to my Gizmo number. I am also lucky enough to be one of the first to beta test a Canadian GrandCentral number, which means this service will be even more practical for me to use. I’ve been wanting a local number for awhile; Gizmo only offers Canadian area codes in Manitoba and Ontario. Skype offers none at all.
So when you call my GrandCentral number (778-785-6755), I’ve set up GC to forward to Gizmo. What I haven’t quite figured out yet is the voicemail. My Gizmo calls that are ignored/unanswered are bumping to GrandCentral voicemail, which is fine. However, I also have Gizmo voicemail activated, so I get an email and WAV file from Gizmo with nothing “in” it so to speak.
I think this a little bit of the untidiness you see when one app is not fully intergrated with another. See Alec’s post. For more reviews on GrandCentral and Gizmo, see Andy, Garrett Smith, Ken Camp, and Paul Kaputska.
On the weekend, my husband had an important long distance call with a client. Downstairs, PhoneGnome had husband talking to the UK over VOIP using Gizmo credits. Upstairs, PhoneGnome had son talking local to his buddies. So easy. And we didn’t even realize that the whole thing panned out problem free until much later…no dropped calls or weird noises, and a whole dollar’s worth of Gizmo call out credits consumed. This is how VOIP should work…totally transparent.
On Monday, Gizmo Project intro’d Gizmo Call, a super easy way to make calls from your browser. They say no traditional software download and installation is required, but you do have to install a Flash plugin (that’s kind of software isn’t it?) But, to get people using it, they’re offering five FREE minutes of calling anywhere. If you register with Gizmo, you get 10 minutes free. After your 10 minutes are up, you switch over to CallOut credits (roughly 2 cents/minute within North America). Pretty darn cheap.
See these other reviews from:
Andy Abramson, VoipWatch
Garrett Smith, Smith on VOIP
GigaOm, Om Malik
Here’s some other tips I dug up about using GizmoCall.
- If you are calling another Gizmo user, which is technically a free call anyway, the “timer” will count down and the reset itself to the original value after the call so you won’t be using free minutes for free calls.
- Two-number Caller ID costs $4 per year. Once you’ve paid for this service, make sure you are still logged in and click the Caller ID tab. The page should reload after a few seconds to show the Mobile and Home fields. Enter the numbers (either one or both) you want to use for caller ID.
- To have a call history, you must register with GizmoCall. Registration is free and you receive 10 minutes free when logged in (only 5 minutes when not logged in).
More info about Gizmo Call can be found here.
I’ve been fiddling for the last few days with my Nokia N80i. I know I should be homing in on the on-board mobile VOIP capabilities, but I’m too distracted by all the other things this device can do. You have to understand that I’m a basic cell phone person. I’ve never held too much with phones that try to manage your life. I use my mobile to make calls. That’s pretty much it. (C’mon Leanne, get with the program here). So now that I’ve tried the N80i, I realize how boring I’ve been all this time.
So far, I’m delightfully dazzled by the camera, the video recorder and the music player. These three things I never thought would have interested me and now I can see using them daily…oh yeah, and making calls…that’s four things.
However, I had a few bumps installing the software (GizmoVoIP), for Internet calling, and the phone drivers on my laptop. Tell ya about that later.
Initially, I thought that the online support systems for VOIP softphones Skype and Gizmo Project were pretty decent. Using them to answer burning questions is another matter.
Online Help belongs with the application. When I click Help > Online Help, please DON’T send me to the Knowledge Base or FAQs. Please DON’T open up another browser window and make me wait while the generic Help home page appears. Please DON’T make me use the Search feature. High level user guides or getting started tutorials are great, but make sure they’ve got some meat in them.
A Knowledge Base gives you little gulps of info with no breadcrumb trail to follow and no sense of context. To really aid and educate users, build Help right into the interface. Take the time to explain fields and buttons before I use them. To provide more information, use a fly-out Help pane (part of the interface that’s only visible when needed) and pull the content from an online server.
I want online Help that is specific to what I’m looking at on the screen. I want to browse Help by drilling down to the level of detail I need without losing my place in the story.
I’m trying to get into Gizmo. Gizmo Project is a free Internet telephone (or softphone) that lets you make free or low cost phone calls on the Internet. With Skype, you are limited to calling fellow Skypers. With Gizmo, you can call other Gizmo members for free, as well as GoogleTalk users, Jabber users, and SIP phone numbers. Unlike Skype, which relies on a proprietary or closed network, Gizmo users are free to contact any Internet phone number on an open SIP network.
With Gizmo, calls to regular landline phones and mobiles are subject either to very low rates, or a complicated free call plan that has something to do with calling registered Gizmo members who don’t happen to be online but who normally ARE online AND active Gizmo users. I’m being a bit cheeky here, but free calls really are a good thing in any form.
But as for using it, I’ve had a few hiccups which suprised me. First, I wasn’t really paying attention to what I was doing and imported my whole Outlook address book into it. Many entries have no phone numbers, so I ended up with a pretty useless list. The only way to delete the entries is to right-click each contact individually and click Delete. Or, log into my sipphone.com account and delete them from there. Both methods take a long time. Yes, I should have payed more attention but I think I was on autopilot.
For folks like me, a pop up or note in the dialog box that says “Some of your Outlook contacts do not include telephone number information. Do you want to continue?” would have been helpful. Or better yet, why not give me the option to import only those contacts with the phone number field filled in. I mean, I can’t remember which Outlook contacts have a phone number attached and which don’t until I look it up in Outlook.
Then, adding contacts using the Contacts > Search for member command didn’t seem to work. Before I lost my mind I upgraded to the newest Gizmo version and that fixed the problem.
These aren’t big issues, but it definitely took me more than 10 minutes to make my first call. Many of the opinions I’ve read seem to indicate that Gizmo is the favoured choice. Is it because it is the anti-Skype or is it easier to use? I’ll let you know when I’ve used it more.