You've got VizMail!
July 28, 1999
by Owen Linderholm
(IDG) -- E-mail on the Internet is now a cliché, thanks to Hollywood and America Online. Even Internet-based telephony is commonplace. But get ready for the prospect of voice mail over the Internet.
MediaRing.com has announced a major upgrade to its MediaRing Talk software. Now available is VoizMail, a free voice mail service for Internet-based telephony calls and streaming audio messaging via e-mail that allows you to send an audio message to anyone with an e-mail account. To hear your message all the recipient needs is a Java-enabled browser, a sound card, and speakers.
To use MediaRing Talk, you must download the MediaRing Talk software (a 3.8MB file) and install it. Register online with the service and you can send PC-to-PC telephony calls or messages anywhere worldwide.
If the recipient is also a MediaRing user and is online, they'll hear a ring and see a pop-up message letting them know you are calling. If they answer, you can chat away as long as you want--for free.
If your recipient isn't available, you can send an e-mail-based VoizMail, or a telephony voice mail. If you use VoizMail, you'll send an e-mail message with an embedded URL that will stream the message to your recipient when it's clicked. If you send a telephony voice mail, the next time your recipient runs the MediaRing Talk program they will be alerted that voice mail is waiting.
Talk to Regular Phones, for a Price
MediaRing Talk also can make telephony calls to real telephones worldwide. But to do that, you'll need to sign up for the ValueFone service--and these calls are not free.
But consider that calls within the U.S. or to the United Kingdom are 10 cents per minute. There's nothing special about the domestic rates, but international calls are less expansive than you'll get from any traditional long distance company.
When I tried MediaRing's services I was very impressed by the quality. Once I had my microphone adjusted correctly, I got very clear sound both in recorded messages and in live talk. However, every now and then there was a dropout due to network congestion, and peak Internet traffic periods made conversation difficult at times.
The free service is made possible by unobtrusive advertisements running on the MediaRing Talk software console.
Portals in the palm of your hand
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