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You've Got Voice Mail

For many people - myself included - there's something intriguing about automatically sending voice mail messages to my inbox and then clicking a mouse to listen, instead of going through the "Press 1 to do this," "Press 2 to do that" commands.

Voice mail is one of those things you don't really think twice about - it's just kind of there. But the folks at GotVoice, a Kirkland, Wash. company, are launching this week some innovative and creative features to enable you to do more with your home, cell or office voice mail. The company will automatically retrieve your messages, convert them to audio files and deliver them to your email inbox where you can save them, trash them or share them - as emails, of course.

But this is not just about retrieving messages; it's also about creating them. Voice messages can be recorded into the GotVoice system in several ways - you can use your phone or a computer-connected microphone or even the built-in text-to-speech software to record a message. From there, it can be delivered to someone's e-mail. It can also be sent directly to the person's voicemail without ringing their phone - a feature called silent delivery. And then there's the feature that little league coaches will love - simultaneous delivery to many people. When you get to the field on Saturday morning and find it too wet to play, delivering the "game is cancelled" message to all of the parents can be done with one recorded message.

A service called eVoice - from j2 Global Communications, the same folks behind eFax - offers something similar to GotVoice, except that it gives you a unique phone number. The idea there is that you can use your eVoice number when you place a classified ad or for your home based business - without having to give out your cell or home phone number. Like GotVoice, basic usage is free; premium services are available for a monthly fee.

It's a cool enough concept and I could see where a number of people would find it useful but I just can't find the value in it --- for me. I can use any phone to call into any of my three voice mail systems. And I realllllly don't need any more e-mail coming into my inbox. Managing two or three voice mails is one thing but seeing them get lost and buried in dozens of e-mails is another.

I'll probably keep using the free service for my cell phone voice-mail. It's free and the signal to my phone can sometimes be hit or miss. But if I ever have to pay, I'm sure that going back to "Press 1 for this" and "Press 2 for that" will be just fine.

By Sam Diaz  |  March 20, 2007; 12:00 PM ET  | Category:  Sam Diaz
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Please email us to report offensive comments.

How different is this conceptually from a Unified Messaging solution?

- Carmelo Lisciotto

Posted by: Carmelo Lisciotto | March 20, 2007 1:15 PM

eVoice is not free at all. I just tried to sign up and it asks if you want the 4.99/month or the more expensive (I think it was around 14.99/month). In any case, I stopped right there.

As far as GotVoice goes, it would actually be helpful to me as I rarely check my voicemail on my cell phone during the day. I have no signal at work, so if I get an email with the voicemail in it (which shouldn't be that many for me) then it would help me out.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 20, 2007 2:28 PM

I have been using since January and am very pleased with it. Not only is it free, you can set up specific voice mail messages for each caller (after their caller ID is logged in your account) and voice messages are sent via a digital audio file to your email. This service has really simplified my life!

Posted by: Constance | March 20, 2007 3:31 PM

Lots on the net about j2 Global's business tactics (think AOL). Had to file a dispute with my bank on a charge put thru before 30-day free trial was up and then had to cancel credit card (required for eFax 30-day free trial) when j2 Global wrote that this same monthly fee would be charged for 11 more months, even tho I terminated 23 days after downloading. The eFax fee structure was cheesy: there's a flat rate for outgoing faxes but incoming are charged "per page, per minute", with no way to block incoming faxes from unauthorized senders.

Posted by: kathleen hall | March 22, 2007 12:05 PM

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