New article featured in the new Ten West Living magazine. (http://www.tenwestliving.com)
Dont Call me, Skype Me!
by Darryl Wilkinson
Ever since Alexander Graham Bell told his assistant, Thomas Watson, “Come here – I want to see you!”, the telephone has been both an indispensable convenience and an unavoidable curse. And it has also always cost money, if not for the phone itself, then certainly for the service. But in the age of the internet, nothing stays the same for very long – and that includes telephone services as we used to know them.
One of the most prominent companies utilizing the power of broadband internet to change telephony is Skype. At its most basic, Skype is a proprietary Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) service that breaks up phone conversations into little packets of data and sends them back and forth between registered users via the internet rather than using the traditional method of going through the local phone company’s landlines, cell towers, and switching stations. Skype users can make free voice calls to other Skype account holders using a variety of devices, including home PCs, Skype-enabled mobile phones, iPhones and iPads, Skype-ready TVs and Blu-ray players, and even Skype home-phone adapters. In case you missed that, Skype lets you make free voice calls to other Skype users – anywhere in the world!
But there’s quite a bit more to Skype than just cheap (or free) talk. You can use the Skype service to make free video calls to other Skype users and even hold group video calls with up to 10 participants. For personal use, this can be a fantastic way to keep in touch with relatives or friends who live out of town (or across the globe). When it comes to using Skype for business, the video conferencing feature can save immensely on travel time and costs and still allow you to maintain most of the benefits of having a face-to-face conversation. Video calling becomes even more powerful when you add in another free aspect of the Skype service: the ability to send files (documents, photos, or even entire presentations) of any size using Skype. With Skype video calling and screen sharing, you can discuss important photos or documents in real time as the recipient looks at them – and you.
Skype has several other highly useful features, as well, although not all are free. For instance, Skype Manager is a web-based management tool that allows business owners and office managers to create Skype accounts for colleagues, allocate credits and features, as well as keep track of overall spending with real-time usage monitoring. Skype also offers call forwarding of incoming Skype calls to a mobile or landline number for times when you aren’t able to receive a Skype call directly. A Skype Online number allows non-Skype users to call you via your Skype service. And Skype To Go numbers can be used to make low-cost international calls from any mobile or landline phone without having to sign into Skype or use a computer.
Of course, nothing is perfect, and Skype is no exception. One of the major drawbacks of the service is that Skype does not offer the ability to call emergency numbers, such as 911. And since Skype requires a broadband internet connection, you won’t be able to use the standard Skype services if your internet connection is down. (Either of these might be enough to prevent someone from choosing to use Skype as their sole telephone service.) Data usage for people with limited data plans can be an issue, as well.
I’m not sure Mr. Bell would have approved of the name “Skype”, but I do think he would have been mighty impressed with the features this rapidly growing service (with well over 600 million registered users) has to offer.
Let us know what you think!
On Monday, June 13, Bjorn’s was lucky enough (in fact we were 1 of 3 retailers in the country!) to be able to hold a private meet and greet with the legendary supergroup Earth, Wind & Fire (EWF). Thanks go out to the band, their management and also to our co-sponsor Monster Cable.
The evening started with a quick video of Verdine White and Ralph Johnson talking about their relationship with Monster Cable and their current 40th Anniversary tour. That’s right, they have been doing this for 40 years!. After that was their performance from the latest David Foster Blu-ray called The Hit Man Returns. Shortly after that clip, Phillip Bailey, Verdine White and Ralph Johnson of EWF took the stage for an hour Q&A session moderated by Bjorn. They talked about everything from the history and formation of the band 40 years ago, their favorite venues they have played to how the heck they look so young, even though they all turn 60 this year!
Next up was an announcement of why EWF and Monster have teamed up. They have developed their own model of in-ear headphones called “Gratitude”, that should be available around August and retail for around $229. EWF were involved with every step of development for these headphones and said if there would have been anything that did not meet their high standards, they never would have put their name on them.
The night concluded with a meet and greet with the people in attendance. Everyone had a chance to meet EWF, get a picture or autograph. These guys are the real deal and are some of the nicest guys you can ever meet! After the meet and greet was finished Bjorn, of course, had to show them a demo of our Ultimate Theater Room. We then brought in some authentic mexican food for their dinner, took a quick tour of their tour bus and they were on their way, 10 hours to the next concert in Biloxi, MI.
I cannot stress enough, how thankful we are to the band and their management for making this happen. This was one of their days off from the tour and they agreed to spend it with us, so THANK YOU EWF, management and all at Monster Cable that helped in making this an unforgettable evening!
Pictures by Tom Neckar
Sonos and the Sonos Controller for Android provide Android fans the ultimate wireless home music experience.
The Sonos Controller for Android™ is a free application that transforms your Android smartphone into a wireless music controller for Sonos. Just grab your phone, download the app from Android Market™ and take control of music all over your home.
With Sonos and Android you get:
UNLIMITED MUSIC IN YOUR HOME — Listen to all the music on earth—from the Internet and your personal music collection—in any or every room, wirelessly.
INCREDIBLE CONTROL IN YOUR HAND — Transform your Android phone into a magical music controller.
AMAZING SOUND IN EVERY ROOM — fill any or every room with great sound.
Should be available in the Android Market by late March!
Dear McIntosh Friends,
Be sure to catch the wave and download the new McIntosh App today! It takes just seconds. Click here to access the McIntosh App page on iTunes!
Share the magic. This is the way to show the world the excitement you feel when you experience music with McIntosh Blue Meters.
The App is something you can carry with you and share your love of McIntosh. What do you think?
It’s that time of year again! Time for the Annual Consumer Electronics Show. For those that don’t know what that is, the International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) is a major technology-related trade show held each January in the Las Vegas Convention Center, Las Vegas, Nevada. We attend every year to meet with our current Manufacturers and to also seek out new products that we may bring into the store.
This year instead of waiting to post a wrap up when we get back, we thought it would be cool if we posted some stuff while we were there! So, if you’re interested in getting great information as it happens on emerging technology, new products or just some funny observations, check out our coverage in one of these ways (starting on Thursday, Jan. 6) -
Are you a fan yet? If not, why not join the club here!
@bjornsav – Catch all our tweets here!
Any video that is posted will end up here as well as Twitter and Facebook
Now that you know where to follow our coverage – what are you excited about? Anything you would like to see us cover? Let us know and we will try to squeeze it in. We look forward to any comments you have. Until then I have to go find my comfortable walking shoes.
So even though we live in San Antonio, every now and then you come across some people that aren’t fans of the San Antonio Spurs. (I know, crazy right?) Well, we have a couple of salesmen that fall into that category. So Bjorn decided that he would offer up a friendly bet yesterday before the Spurs/Lakers game. As you can see from the above evidence, Bjorn was the winner and was loving every minute of it! Go Spurs Go!
If you’re like most music lovers, you have a big library of music stored on your computer, and you tote an iPod wherever you go. Music Matters is the event that will show you, step-by-step, how to get the greatest enjoyment from that music collection.
- See how the new $99 Apple TV can be used to wirelessly distribute your music collection throughout your home, while maintaining the sound quality of a high-end CD player. Control it all with your iPhone. Presented by David Solomon of Peachtree Audio and Chris Connaker of computeraudiophile.com. Seminars will be held at 11 AM, 2 PM & 6:30 PM. Register Here.
- Learn about the different music file formats available, and how to play them with the highest fidelity. You’ll learn about music servers, distributed audio and the future of digital audio.
- Audition the newest and best audio components from top names such as McIntosh, Denon, Yamaha, Definitive Technology, B&W, Sonos, Rega, Monster Cable, Peachtree Audio, and Klipsch.
Light appetizers and beverages will be served from 6 – 9 PM. Provided by Piatti’s.
The fantastic Yamaha Disklavier – the “player piano” of the digital age brought to you by Alamo Music Center.
Hear the “music” of Harley Davidson exhaust notes in our parking lot brought to you by Javelina Harley.