Today's Gadget Monday: Gear up for Skype

Skype is so easy to use and costs so little - it's free, in fact - that I'm always amazed at how few of my clients and associates use it. With one free download, you can be making free calls over the Internet and be sending text chats with other people who also use Skype. So today on Gadget Monday, I'm featuring three essential tools for cutting your office phone bills and giving you a direct link to your colleagues by gearing up for Skype use. 1.First of all, download Skype. 2.PC Headset. While you really only need speakers and a microphone to use Skype for talking over the Internet, this route means you'll have to deal with feedback. Your mic will pick up speech through the speakers, and you'll hear a crazy echo while you're trying to have a call. Instead, invest no more than $30 in a good headset that plugs into the back of your computer. You'll look like you're working in a call center, but your call quality will be great. I use a nice Plantronics set. They have some great clearance deals on the website. 3.Headset Speaker Switch. The PC headset is great when you're talking on the phone, but you don't want to sacrifice using your speakers just for talking on Skype. The solution is the headset speaker switch, which lets you plug in your computer speakers and your headset at the same time. Use the toggle switch when you want to go from headset to speakers and vice versa. 4.Nokia N810. This last point isn't technically essential, but it's so cool and useful for other things that I have to mention it here. The Nokia N810 Portable Internet Tablet is a hand-held device that's an alternative to the iPhone. But you don't have to use the expensive AT&T contract to make calls. It synchs up with Skype (as well as Google and any other website) so you can talk for free. But you can also use it for on-the-road demos, taking notes, checking your e-mail and more. Check this page on the Skype website to learn more about how these two dance together.

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