Net Savings

Propeller heads have long predicted that the Internet would become the preferred long-distance medium for actual conversation. But "voice over IP"--if that isn't geeky enough, try "VoIP"--has to date been a hard-to-use, low-quality means of barking to someone via the microphone of your PC. Now Net2Phone is offering a VoIP service for calls on your home or office land-line phone, or even your cell phone--at way-cheap rates. Once you sign up and give Net2Phone your credit card, you just punch in (or speed dial) the access number and then you can call anyone in the world. The bills come on your card statement, just like an EZ Pass.

Quality? An intercontinental call on land-line phones (four cents a minute) sounded great; chatter with a friend in Brazil from a cell phone was a bit muddy. Mitigating factor: 10 cents a minute to So Paulo. You can check it out at Net2Phone.com.