Much as I love the idea of using a service like Skype to make free PC-to-PC phone calls (and cheap PC-to-landline calls), it's yet another program to install, and yet another drain on my system's already strapped resources.
Enter GizmoCall, which offers Skype-like calling capabilities but requires no special software. Instead, it works right inside your browser-any browser, on any system (Windows, Mac, or Linux).
All you need is a microphone (the one in your webcam will do) and/or headset. You can make free calls to other Gizmo users, toll-free numbers, various college campuses, and other VoIP networks (like Earthlink and LiveVoip). Here's the full list of GizmoCall freebies.
As with Skype, if you want to call landlines and cell phones, you'll need to purchase blocks of call-out credit (which start at $10 for 500 minutes). You can also send SMS messages for about 7 cents apiece, great if you're traveling abroad and don't want to pay exorbitant roaming rates.
GizmoCall doesn't do video calls or even instant messaging, but it's definitely a cool and convenient way to make phone calls. And because it runs in a browser, you can actually embed it in, say, your blog. Neat stuff.