I love Skype for what it can do and potentially do. I also love Skype for keeping me in touch with loved ones across the entire globe. It is something I 'need' when I'm on the go. It's also a great saver for people who are trying to keep in touch with their family, work and business acquaintances.
What you need to do is to download a program online, set up an account like you would Messenger. How it differs from other VoiP is that essentially it allows you to call all landlines and mobiles for a meagre sum (around 2 cents per minute). This is not the best part yet! It also allows you to see one another on your computer or laptop like face to face video conferencing, seeing your family if you live thousand of miles from one another, transfer pictures online in real time and have the other party confirmed that the files have been transfered perfectly.
Not the last but the best is its online number facility, SkypeIn. For example, I may have a local number in the U.S., another in Europe and another in Australia. Essentially, that means I can print all these phone numbers on my calling card. It appears I've a global business when I'm actually just stationed in say, Japan. When Americans call my American phone number, they are all local calls while I can program Skype to forward these calls to anywhere in the world! I could be hopping from Paris to Barcelona and then to Dubai. As long as I forward my calls to my mobile phone or home or anywhere effectively, I will receive every call from my these online numbers. Cool, isn't it? What does Skype get in return? Generally, 2 cent a minute for most calls. Skype then officially becomes a telco. If you don't use Skype, while you are on the move, your telco, say Sprint or Orange, will be charging you hefty amount of roaming charges! So, trust me, travelers especially, make sure you have Skype installed on your laptop. Then, go get an online number to save yourself thousands of dollars!
I found out that most Europeans and Asians use these services. Most Americans don't. The reason being Americans hardly go out of the country and hence with their mobiles, they are still being charged local rates no matter where they move about. However, it's not the case with Europeans or Asians. As one crosses the borders, phone charges become cross-country and can be a hefty sum! So, beware of your roaming charges if you don't already know. You'll be paying through your nose if you are roaming using your mobile phone. With Skype, you can talk for hours and pay only a meagre sum. That includes installing the Skype handsets in your home (they work like any cordless phone) if you so desire. The reception is as good as any phone. Calls may drop once in awhile but that's not a big problem. All in all, Skype is a worthy program and an incredible way to keep in touch with everyone! Remember, no roaming charges by simply forwarding your Skype to a local number! You can still be contacted easily with an online Skype number anywhere you're in the world!
Couple it with mobile broadband (which I did a review earlier), you have an entire mobile office all within your netbook or laptop while on the move. Technology is certainly awesome!!!
Skype in use in Hawaii during the tsunami warning due to 2010 Chile Earthquake: