Phone cards, cellphones, Skype, SkypeOut, PowerBook, Bluetooth, and Akono HBH-662

Calling UK mobile phones from the U.S. is relatively expensive, I purchased two phone cards online, but the voice quality was sub-par. My Treo 650 also doesn’t have an easy way to call with a phone card. Well, I can setup a favorite button in the phone app to call the number of the phone card, and in the Extra Digits field I have to put “p[PIN]ppp[UK phone number]“, so it’s not terribly bad.

But I really miss Nokia‘s call with calling card feature. When I was in college I had the Nokia 2160 and then I upgraded to the Nokia 6160 when I needed national no-roaming coverage in NYC. Also for about 2 years in Austin I had the Nokia 8290. With all of those phones, I could setup a phone card (tel # and PIN), and when I scrolled to a phonebook entry I could just press and hold Dial to call with phonecard, it was absolutely awesome. Nokia hasn’t innovated much since though, the 6160 was a really good phone back then, but most of their newer phones only added a color screen and some pixelated icons to the menu, and that’s about it, which is really a shame.

Anyway, back to calling UK mobile numbers, I didn’t like using phone cards to call, so I gave SkypeOut a try. When using SkypeOut with the internal mic and speakers of my work laptop, a Dell D600, the call sounded okay to me, but Sherry said it sounded terrible; even worse than using the cheap phone cards, which also use VoIP. I refused to believe SkypeOut really sucked that much, so when I got home I tried calling Sherry with Skype from my PowerBook, she said the quality was better. I then paired my new bluetooth headset with the PowerBook, went into preferences in Skype and changed the audio in/out to the headset, and tried calling her again. Now, the sound quality absolutely kicks ass, she was like, “this sounds the best among all the different things you’ve tried”. Nice!!

So, Dell laptops suck, SkypeOut works, and it’s probably the most painless way to call long distance, and PowerBook’s Bluetooth capability works amazingly well. The newer ones with Bluetooth 2.0 might work even better.