Saturday, August 20, 2011

Skype on the iPad2

I needed to make a couple of phone calls in Lausanne, Switzerland, and turned to Skype as the cheapest alternative.

While my Rogers (a big Canadian provider) cell phone could access the wireless system in Austria, it apparently is not compatible with the Swiss phone system. Or so, everyone who sells prepaid phone access told us. I'm not sure it was true, because both Rogers phones that we brought along showed they had a signal. However, I did not want to waste 10 francs to find out. (Have you seen how it's appreciated, lately? Almost 40 percent against the Canadian dollar in four months!)

So, when we needed to make a couple of phone calls, I downloaded Skype to my iPad2. Again, better preparation would have helped. Fortunately, Lausanne, Switzerland has several open WiFi spots in public squares. Unfortunately, the access is slow. It took nearly half an hour to download the Skype app.

Skype works well on the iPad2, except for one thing: the microphone doesn't seem to deliver enough volume. Also, I found that the Kensington case/Bluetooth keyboard covers the microphone. I cannot even see it. I had to take the iPad out of the case to make myself heard on the phone.

Skype's iPad app could be more intuitive. For one thing, the button for dialing a new number disappears just when you need it. I found I had to click on Contacts just to bring the dialing button back to the top of the screen.

As for a phone, the iPad2 is awkward. I guess you could hold it up to your head like an oversized iPhone, with the front camera near your mouth and the speaker well past your ear, but it would be better with ear buds.

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