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dialpadWhile I’ve never been one to jump on any technological bandwagon early (I resisted upgrading from Windows 3.1 to Windows 95 for almost five years after Windows 95 came out), when it comes to VoIP I embraced the technology the moment it became viable.

Within just a few years of the advent of Voice-Over-Internet-Protocol, Skype emerged as a leader in the industry. The reason Skype became the leader was because, at least in the U.S., you could install Skype on your Internet-connected home PC and make completely free phone calls to any phone number in the U.S.

Today, the structure of the VoIP industry has evolved to meet the demands of increased infrastructure costs to support such a large VoIP user base, as well as to compete with the frightened but savvy telecommunications industry. In addition to becoming public enemy number one in the eyes of the big telecom companies, Skype also finds itself faced with a plethora of VoIP competitors. Today, we’re going to focus on one particular competitor – the emergence of an application called Gizmo. The following head-to-head VoIP review compares the features and costs of Skype Vs. Gizmo so that you can decide if Gizmo might be worth a try.

A Skype Vs. Gizmo Comparison Reveals Features and Flaws of Both

If you’ve used Skype, then understanding Gizmo is easy because it’s practically a perfect clone. In a few areas, the application is a bit too much like Skype, to be quite honest. With that said, there are some benefits to Gizmo that deserve mentioning, so this Skype vs. Gizmo feature will lay out those features side-by-side with Skype. At the end, we’ll review whether or not Gizmo has a chance of outpacing Skype in capturing VoIP customers.

This particular review is focused on the PC-based application, but it should be noted that each service, both Skype and Gizmo, offers a very useful application for your mobile phone that can save a great deal of money in both calling minutes and text messaging.

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The first, basic part of any application to consider is the main page. In this respect, Gizmo has figured out how to make the navigation and control of the communication software much more clean and straightforward compared to Skype. In Skype, I’ve often spent a fair amount of time trying to remember how to get to the dialing pad or how to view message history.

sidebyside1

In Gizmo, every major feature is clearly outlined in a tabular format at the top, and the most common actions, such as sending a text message to mobile users, adding a contact, or sending a message to other IM users, are clearly identified as large icons at the bottom.

Basic Features – Dialing Landlines and Adding Contacts

For the most part, if you do a Skype vs. Gizmo comparison on the dialing feature alone, they almost come neck and neck. Skype’s dialpad is a bit more aesthetically pleasing with blue stylized buttons with large white numbers on the keypad. Gizmo, on the other hand, features a somewhat boring, standard gray keypad with black letters.

But what it lacks in style, it makes up for with functionality by adding the ability to send various sound effects during your phone call. If you can picture how your friend would react when you click on the “BOO” button after they say something you disagree with, I’m sure you can imagine how funny some of these would be.

calling2

When it comes to adding a contact, Gizmo scores a point over Skype. As you can see below, Skype allows you to add other Skype users to your contact list. The one other IM app that Skype is integrated with is MySpaceIM. On the other hand, Gizmo offers users the ability to add contacts from GoogleTalk, Jabber, MSN, AIM and other major IM networks.

addcontacts3

The one thing any communications company should understand is that not all users are every going to be using the same applications, and expecting everyone to adopt your application isn’t realistic. Interoperability is a key element to success.

Advanced Features – Sending/Receiving SMS and Voice Conferencing

Once you start getting into the more advanced features, you’re more likely to discover fees or you may need to purchase the “pro” version of the application for it to work. Comparing Skype versus Gizmo on these terms reveals that in both cases the applications offer some very cool and useful features – but if you want it to work you’re going to need to be willing to pay some small fees of one form or another.

sendsms4

One of the most valuable features that I’ve found all of these VoIP applications have been adding over the past few years is the ability to send text messages to mobile users. While this is a feature that’s just sort of “neat” when you’re using it as a desktop application, when you consider that these applications have a mobile version, the value becomes much more clear. You can even disable text messaging on your mobile plan, and just use your Internet connection to send and receive SMS. Both services, Gizmo and Skype, offer this feature.

conference5

Another valuable feature is the ability to set up conference calls. In both cases, Skype and Gizmo allow this feature for free among their own users, but if you want to have a landline conference call, expect to pay for it in some way – either through the landline pricing or a fixed fee.

Conferences are easier to set up in Skype, where you simply add users or phone numbers (who you call out to first). In Gizmo you need to go through setting up a conference call number that everyone can connection to. This is an extra step in Gizmo, but it does create the convenience of everyone having a central number to call in to.

voicemail6

Another interesting and valuable option for both Gizmo and Skype is the option to have a voicemail box. In the case of Skype, the voicemail feature isn’t available unless you pay for the upgrade to Skype Pro. For Gizmo, the voicemail feature doesn’t make it clear whether there are any charges or fees applied, however the feature itself does appear enabled in the free version of the software.

Advanced Options and Configuration

Finally, each application has a whole series of screens where you can configure your PC audio and microphone settings, videocam options and all of the other specific features of the software.

otheroptions7

This is the one area of the Gizmo software that really raised my eyebrows. If you look closely, you can see how Gizmo developers apparently just reverse-engineered the options menus and screens from Skype. This section of the Gizmo software makes it painfully obvious that, at least in this area, Gizmo is very much a clone of Skype’s application. With that said, the additional features that Gizmo offers beyond the Skype features make up for this – but not by much.

Ultimately, my own summation of this Skype vs. Gizmo comparison is that Gizmo simply does not offer enough additional free features or services to effectively compete with Skype.

Have you ever used any VoIP software other than Skype? Which ones are your favorites? Share your own opinion in the comments area below.

  1. Abe
    October 12, 2009 at 7:25 pm

    Yes....Gizmo5 uses SIP which is an open standard for internet telephony.... and that's one of the main reasons I would prefer Gizmo5 to Skype any day. Think about it: How sad it is when for argument sake you could only call phones connected to your teleco company ONLY! Please help support the use of open standard for a higher interoperability.

    not to mention Gizmo5 can now easily call any Skype/MSN(live)/GoogleTalk/AIM user!

    QuteCom (the old WengoPhone) is apparently another nice VoIP phone, but unfortunately its development seems to get into a halt...

  2. slick
    October 7, 2009 at 1:04 am

    There are some important technological differences that you didn't mention. Gizmo5 uses the SIP protocol which is an open standard. You can call any SIP number for free, and now a days many business are connecting their office VoIP networks to the Internet. There are also many other SIP providers and the Gizmo5 client (softphone) can connect to these services as well. The skype protocol is proprietary and only skype uses it. The skype protocol also uses a bandwidth sharing model, much like bittorrent. You said that call quality is about the same. It may be at the beginning of a call, but my company stopped using skype because on long conference calls the audio quality gets worse as the call gets longer. This doesn't happen with the SIP protocol.

  3. Hitesh
    September 25, 2009 at 9:16 am

    Wait please also have a look at
    this

    iptel.org

    and a softphone with IM and lots more.....

  4. jmazur
    August 5, 2009 at 10:33 am

    try ooVoo.com it works very well.

  5. sippy
    August 5, 2009 at 12:18 pm

    This point may not be in the scope of the article but it is relevant to the features that the Gizmo Project offers. You can request a SIP phone number and integrate it with gizmo and a voip router so you can call any other SIP or landline number. As someone previously stated, Google Voice (grandcentral) is also compatible. The variations on what you can do with voip phones are are plentiful. More details can be found at sipphone.com/

  6. Adrain
    August 5, 2009 at 1:35 am

    i have found both suitable on my PC. but on my mobile i prefer Vopium as it gives me free 30 minutes and SMS

  7. Buffet
    August 4, 2009 at 9:51 am

    Ryan - Thank you sir.

  8. Claus
    August 4, 2009 at 6:27 am

    i just came across vopium and i found more than 500 devices that supported that service...the service provided me free minutes for calling along with international sms at sign up. Further more the call was too cheap and quality was too good. Unfortunately, the service doesnot provide IMs feature and thats the only reason i am still using skype!

  9. Buffet
    August 4, 2009 at 6:26 am

    I have broadband internet through my cable company, but I do not not have a landline telephone. Would I be able to use Skype or Gizmo with no landline?

    • Ryan Dube
      August 4, 2009 at 6:53 am

      Hey Buffet - yes. You have a few options.

      - Use a computer headset and make all of your calls using your computer. You can even purchase a bluetooth earpiece that connects to your computer USB port through Bluetooth. You can walk around your house talking wireless on your PC - it's a cool setup..but I've found the range isn't the greatest.
      - Buy a Skype phone, this uses your broadband connection but doesn't require your computer to be on all the time.

      Don't forget your other options, your broadband Internet company may actually offer you broadband phone service, and in that case you can hook up a regular phone to the service and all your household phones just use your Internet connection. If you have broadband - you've got *lots* of options available to you for phone service!

  10. John
    August 3, 2009 at 9:28 pm

    Skype is not free. If you want free calling to landlines in US use icall.com

    • Ryan Dube
      August 4, 2009 at 6:50 am

      Hey John - I know, it's sad that Skype got rid of the free domestic calling service. Obviously Skype-to-Skype is still free (but so are the other millions of other voice/IM services out there...) It's for this reason that I do think Skype is going to get overrun with competitors.

  11. JacPat
    August 3, 2009 at 8:06 pm

    I have a skype phone, which is great. It's a stand alone phone that you just plug into the ethernet. Then if you get the skype subscription for unlimited calls to US and cananda landlines (for just 3 dollars!). Then if you really want you can get a actual phone number for 30 dollars a year. It's a deal you can't beat.

    And for that reason skype wins for me. The fact that i can just plug in the phone and it works.

  12. Jack Cola
    August 3, 2009 at 5:29 pm

    You forgot to mention that Skype is being sued for breaking its license aggreement with founder company Joltid, so skype is redeveloping its backbone software. So skype might close in July 2010
    http://www.stunews.net/technology/internet/skype-could-be-shutdown-in-june-2010

  13. Blahblahblah
    August 3, 2009 at 4:31 pm

    You also have to look at the integration with Google Voice. Pairing the two together have been a god-send.

  14. dr_mortiz
    August 3, 2009 at 3:45 pm

    I would like to know if the quality of audio is similar in both software... Is it the same? Is Gizmo's better or worse than Skype's?

    • Ryan Dube
      August 4, 2009 at 6:48 am

      Hey dr_mortiz - as far as I can tell the quality is about the same, although much depends on your equipment of course. In my case (a laptop with a headset/mic combo) - the quality for both services is pretty much the same.

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