Make Calls from Your BlackBerry PlayBook with Comwave’s ePhone App
One of the first significant communications tools offered by a third-party company for the BlackBerry PlayBook extends the intriguing world of Voice Over Internet (VOIP) to the tablet.
Comwave’s ePhone app, available through BlackBerry App World, lets you make and receive calls through the PlayBook from nearly anywhere in the world; all you need is a WiFi signal. If this sounds like the highly successful Skype utility, that’s because it’s similar.
Comwave’s ePhone connects to about 60 countries around the world. You can get a virtual phone number in Canada, the United States, and a number of other countries for your device, making it inexpensive or free for people to call you — if your PlayBook is connected to a WiFi signal. It also allows video chats between the PlayBook and another tablet or computer with a camera.
VOIP has been around for a while. The technology takes voice (and sometimes video and texting) and sends it as a digital signal across the Internet; at the receiving end it can be heard or seen without further conversion on a computer or other digital device or it’s converted into an analog signal that can be used with a standard telephone.
On the plus side:
VOIP is almost always significantly less expensive than a traditional phone call and certainly less costly than using a cell phone to call from out of your home area. In some plans, communication between clients of the same VOIP provider are free or deeply discounted.
Some services allow you to send video as well as text messages using the same connection.
On the not-so-plus side:
Voice communication can sometimes be tinny or scratchy, and often lags between your words into the PlayBook (or other device) and their arrival in a receiver somewhere else in the world.
You’re dependent upon a reliable WiFi signal to call.
As this book goes to press, RIM hasn’t fully enabled the PlayBook to accept a plug-in or Bluetooth microphone, so you must use the PlayBook’s built-in microphone. You can hear the other party through the speakers or through earphones plugged into the PlayBook.