I’m adding another tool – VoIP, in the form of Skype. As it so happens, they released a brand new version in anticipation of my jump into this new world:
I have been looking around and noticed that there isn’t a good guide anywhere for optimizing Skype on the Macintosh, so I thought I would share what I know here based on my testing. Thanks to those of you who I have spoken with in the last few weeks who either knew or didn’t know that you were on a VoIP connection when I said I was calling from my landline :).
Overall quality is great with a fast computer and good internet connection. Here are my tips:
To test your Internet connection, you can use a free service like MySpeed VoIP quality test.
For your router, you can do things like adjust port forwarding and give priority to your Skype connection. I tried all combinations of this and ended up using the built in Quality of Service settings, in other words, no special tweaking.
On the mac, the big issue affecting quality turned out to be concurrent use of Bluetooth. I haven’t seen anything posted about this, but using a bluetooth mouse and keyboard at the same time as Skype causes the machine to hiccup periodically during the connection. Using a bluetooth headset, while possible, resulted in poor quality. Turning bluetooth off altogether during calls preserved excellent quality. I think having 1-3 bluetooth devices running off the machine causes CPU conflicts rather than bandwidth conflicts.
In terms of hardware, there are good choices for the PC, such as the GE – Skype – Certified – 2 in 1 Internet&Standard Phone, and the Linksys Cordless Internet Telephony Kit for Skype CIT200 Unfortunately, neither of these have Macintosh drivers (yes there are some things on the Mac that aren’t plug and play), so they won’t work. In addition, the “line in” port on a MacBookPro is not the same as “Microphone”. The former requires a powered microphone, the latter does not. So you can’t buy a microphone-enabled headset and plug it to these jacks. You need a USB headset.
Just a few things I figured out on this journey. I love the iPhone and all the things it does for me, but when you join the masses of people who no longer have a true land line in their home, Skype is a great way to manage the declining pool of rollover minutes that you have built up.
Anyone else using Skype or VoIP with good results (or not so good results?). Post them here!