Many months ago we reviewed Skype-competitor Gizmo Project, which was a well-executed downloadable IP software phone. The same company now offers a fascinating and novel Web-based alternative, Gizmo Call. It doesn't require a client download, so you can access your IP phone account from any browser and PC that has a headset. At the Gizmo Call Web site, anyone can plug in a phone number or use the dial pad on the Flash plug-in interface to try the service for five free phone minutes. You can even type "gizmocall.com/phonenumber" (replace "phonenumber" with the actual number you want to call) into a browser's address bar to bring up the site and dial in one click.
After registering, you get up to ten minutes of free call time per day, but each call is capped at a three-minute maximum. An audio ad for Gizmo Call gets inserted a few seconds into each free call. For a $4-per-year fee, you can enter a home or mobile number that will appear to recipients as your caller ID. A stored value system in $10 increments lets you place landline or mobile calls at a rate of about 1.9 cents per minute in the United States, and then at much more varied rates overseas. Calling South Africa, for instance, costs 8.2 cents per minute for landlines and 28.1 cents per minute for mobile connections. You can also send SMS messages.
In our tests the audio quality of the calls was mixed. Voices on both ends had a synthesized edge to them, and our call recipients often complained of hearing echoes. It's convenient to have an IP phone account available to you everywhere, but you pay a price in quality and features. Gizmo Call maintains a call history for redialing but does not manage a phone/contact book. This service is all about calling out rather than receiving calls, so there's no voicemail or call-recording features. For its limited functionality and very limited free-use model, gizmocall.com can be convenient in a pinch. But if you're looking for more depth or value, look elsewhere.
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