Gizmo Project 188.8.131.52
- Full featured free SIP client with free voicemail
- Voice quality
Excellent interface, but bandwidth from Australia to the Gizmo Project back-end servers seems dubious.
Gizmo Project is a peer-to-peer system with support for the Session Initiation Protocol (SIP). SIP is a real time communication protocol for Voice over IP (VoIP). This is a great feature because it means that unlike Skype, Gizmo Project users are also able to call people using SIP softphones or SIP hardware telephones which are fast becoming popular with home users thanks to ISP services such as iinet's iiphone VoIP service.
The Gizmo Project interface owes a lot to both Skype, and the major Instant Messenger clients, but that just makes it easier to use. The opening screen displays an account balance which belies the fact Gizmo Project is intending to make their profit off providing Plain Old Telephone System (POTS) connectivity for VoIP users - both incoming and outgoing - but this integration means Gizmo Project can't be reconfigured to use any other SIP telephony provider.
The free account includes voicemail and conferencing and includes US$0.25 of credit with every account to encourage users to attempt a POTS connection - the current rate is 1c per minute to US land lines. Unfortunately call quality from Australia to the Gizmo Project servers seems pretty low so it may be some time before they get enough bandwidth to compete with Skype on this front.
With Gizmo Project, the emphasis seems to be on cute features - immediately noticeable are the avatars used for contacts. Other clients allow users to add their own photos to their contacts book, but like an IM client Gizmo Project allows users to project their own image out to other users via their peer-to-peer system and to select from a bunch of avatars that come with the software. Unfortunately users cannot import additional images but there is a good selection including some "Far Side" cartoon classics. Like most clients, it supports importing contacts from Outlook and Outlook Express.
When a call is in progress the "call drawer" window appears to the right of the main window and shows the other users avatar and contact profile. It also includes three useful buttons at the top - record, hold and mute. Pressing record results in a WAV file record of the conversation to be dropped to a configurable directory location, while the hold function includes the ability to select custom on hold music simply by choosing a suitable WAV file on the hold music option tab. Another button appears below the call status when a call is in progress - "Map it". This launches a window showing a map of the world with the caller locations superimposed on it. While not a useful feature, it certainly is fun.
The options are all nice and simple. Gizmo Project does most things in the background, like running a bandwidth test to optimize the audio codecs in use - it shows status at the bottom left of screen. Everything about Gizmo Project seems to say, "Go on, VoIP isn't scary - give it a try!".
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