If not SpinVox, then Pibbix

Wednesday, May 26th, 2010

For a while now, I have been a big fan of SpinVox, who offer a voicemail to text conversion service and then SMS you the message.  This functionality allows me to not take calls when in meetings / busy, but still see very quickly the details of the message (and without the time and hassle factor of dialling into the voicemail).  In fact, with little things like not having to write down numbers (which are transcribed into the SMS and accessible directly from the phone), it’s very useful, and a service that once you’ve tried is often worth the small monthly outlay.

However, SpinVox is slowly cancelling all personal subscriptions, so for many people SpinVox is no longer an option open to them.  Well, in the UK, Pibbix have stepped into this market, and are now offering their service along similar lines.

Pibbix have 3 charging rates, which are:

  • £7.50 for 20 messages converted to text
  • £16 for 50 messages converted to text
  • £30 for 100 messages converted to text

These are good rates, and depending on how many voicemail messages you get a month will determine which tariff will suit you best; for many the lowest tariff will suffice.

There are nice little touches with Pibbix which is why I’m even keener to promote them; if the message goes beyond 1 SMS message, you aren’t charged more; the cost is per message converted, not per SMS sent to you.  You can choose whether to be notified by SMS and/or email, and the email can also have an mp3 attachment of the original message.  If you need to change your mobile number where the messages are sent, that’s easily changed too (something that required a chat with SpinVox Customer Services).  Even better, as part of the web management interface they offer, you can elect to not have messages from withheld / blocked caller ID numbers transcribed; this means although you’ll still get an email with the attachment, but you won’t be disturbed with an SMS (and because the message is not converted, it does not come out of your conversion allowance either).

The number you are allocated to divert your mobile to works can be used on multiple phones (and even landlines) to being all of your voicemails into one single location.

You can also configure a custom greeting, and you can control what greeting is used via the web interface too.

Payment is via PayPal, and you can cancel at any time.

I’ve been using the service for over a month now, and have had no problems with the service; I’ve had one voicemail where the transcription was not good, but given the amount of background noise, I struggled to understand parts of the message, and I knew what the caller was talking about!  SpinVox suffers from similar problems, so this is not unique, but on other messages the message has been spot on, and at times more accurate than I would have expected from SpinVox.

If you go to the Pibbix website, you can request an invite; the service is still in beta at the moment, so you may have to wait a small while to get into the service, although generally people aren’t having to wait too long.


T-Mobile and forwarding calls – update

Wednesday, April 29th, 2009

T-Mobile logo

We’ve covered this issue before, but The Register has spoken with T-Mobile about it today, so we thought we would provide a summary of the recent changes T-Mobile have introduced to voicemail redirection.  Firstly, T-Mobile still charge if you redirect your phone to another number, although they now no longer directly charge you for the call being directed to voicemail.  That’s the change; now the voicemail redirection comes out of your Flext allowance, instead of costing you 12p per minute.  However, as The Register point out, redirecting your number to another UK phone number, for accessing services such as SpinVox, will cost you 17p per minute, and does not come out of your allowance.

T-Mobile are alone in the UK with this stance; all the other mobile networks will take that redirected call out of your voice call allowance (as long as it’s to a normal UK landline number), which companies like SpinVox use.

The article also takes about how HulloMail, which offers an Android based solution, was hoping for a better deal with T-Mobile, as the exclusive supplier of the Android based G1; we say to HulloMail; concentrate on the HTC Magic, which goes on sale on Friday with Vodafone, who are less petty about voicemail redirection (and who support twitter for their users too).

If you fancy an HTC Magic, Vodafone are currently offering a £5 discount (per month) off the line rental for people who pre-order the HTC Magic before Friday on a £35 per month contract.


Skype and SpinVox partner together

Tuesday, March 3rd, 2009

Skype LogoSpinVox Logo

We’ve been a big fan of both Skype and SpinVox for quite some time, but today the two companies have announced that you can now use the SpinVox service on your Skype voicemail.  SpinVox‘s main product is the ability to take your voicemails (instead of diverting to your mobile network operator’s voicemail service, you divert your phone to your dedicated SpinVox number) and SpinVox will do it’s best to convert that message into both a text message (sent to your chosen number via SMS) *and* it will email you text as well. On top of that, should the message come out garbled (a lot of background noise can, for example, make it difficult to hear exactly what is said), you can even ring in yourself and listen to the original message.

Well, the Skype offering is very similar.  First, of all, you’ll need some Skype Credit, as there are a few small charges associated with the service.  Once you have enabled the service, any voicemail you receive in your Skype voicemail will be converted for you.  Like the SpinVox service, the original voicemail is still accessible, although for this service, you simply sign into Skype and listen as you would today.

Even nicer, Skype will wait 10 minutes before passing your voicemail to SpinVox, giving you a chance to hear the message (if you were on a call to someone else, for example), and if you listen before it’s processed, you won’t be charged.

SpinVox will then take the call and process it.  They will send the content of the voicemail in 1 to 3 SMSes (our experience is that most voicemails are converted within 1 or 2 SMS messages, so it will be rare that someone leaves a sufficiently long message to not get the whole thing converted in 3 messages), and you are charged 17 pence plus 1 to 3 SMS charges (whatever the Skype charge is to SMS your mobile number, currently 9.2 pence for most UK numbers).  So, a typical voicemail which takes 2 SMSes to transcribe will cost just over 35 pence.

That may sound a lot, but remember, you didn’t have to pay data charges or phone charges to listen to the message, and even more importantly, it came directly to your mobile phone, so if you are out, and not using Skype on your mobile phone, you will get the exact contents of the message and allowing you to react to the message well before you can get home or pay to listen to it.

If there is too much background noise to process the message, you still pay the 17 pence, and then just for 1 SMS to cover the alert telling you about the voicemail and the inability to process (so just over 26 pence).

If you are out and about, and need to listen to the original message, then you just need to dial your Skype To Go number and can access the voicemail service from there (and you might as well sign up for a Skype To Go number; you used to need a subscription for this service, but it’s now available for anyone as long as you have some credit on your Skype account).

The Skype voicemail to text service currently should be able to handle English, French, German and Spanish voicemails.

If you think this service is a little bit of an overkill for your needs, then Skype have also launched some simpler voicemail alerts.  You can receive an email alert when you receive a voicemail (which is free), or you can receive a single SMS alert (again charged at the standard SMS charge rate for your mobile).

For those who want to try it out, but are concerned about potentially spending a fortune on this service, then do not fear, you can optionally set a limit on the number of voicemail conversions you are willing to receive a day (thereby putting a cap on your costs), and/or you can specify to only convert voicemails from people on your contact list.

Additional services like these are both good for the user, and are starting to distinguish Skype from the traditional SIP based VOIP providers (Skype uses a proprietary protocol), and with Nokia planning on providing Skype directly on their phones, it looks like 2009 might be the year that Skype really moves from being an application you run occasionally on your PC into part of your everyday mobile life.


Fancy a free SpinVox trial?

Tuesday, October 14th, 2008

Here at UK Gadgeteer, we are big fans of SpinVox, it’s a very useful voicemail to SMS / email service, and it’s coped with all sorts of bad quality lines, people calling from mobiles walking down windy streets, and even regional dialects.  So, here’s an offer we wanted to tell you about..

There are two important reasons we want to promote this particular SpinVox trial.  Firstly, instead of the usual 1 week trial, this allows you to have access to the SpinVox system for 2 months, which is a nice long time to realise the true benefit of it.  Secondly, at the end of the trial, instead of being charged £5 per month for the first 40 voicemail conversions, it’s actually £5 per calendar month for unlimited conversions (and unlike many network operators, SpinVox mean unlimited).  As part of the trial, SpinVox will also provide you with a BlackBerry application that helps make SpinVox work better on these devices.

Head over to SpinVox BlackBerry trial to sign up, although word on the street is that apart from access to the BlackBerry application, this gives access to the “normal” service, and might work for anyone…


SpinVox and ping.fm announce joint service

Monday, October 6th, 2008

SpinVox and ping.fm have just announced the ability to speak your social networking updates!  As of today, you are able to “Ping through SpinVox“, which will allow you to use the power of ping.fm to update up to 30 social network sites at the same time, but instead of needing to be near a computer, you’ll be able to do this via voice, through the power of SpinVox.

SpinVox traditionally provide voicemail to text (and email) service, which we use here, but by working together with ping.fm, they have managed to launch another unique service.

This service has just gone live in the last few minutes, all you need to do is register your mobile number in your account settings of ping.fm, although you can also head to ping.fm/spinvox.

More information can be found at both SpinVox and ping.fm.  Thanks to James at SpinVox.


Flip Video and Glastonbury

Friday, June 27th, 2008

Flip Video in Orange

Here’s an interesting device, the Flip Video. In the US, it’s referred to as the Pure Digital Flip Video, but in the UK, it’s just the Flip Video (possibly related to the existence of Pure Digital, the DAB radio specialists in the UK). For just under £100, you can get a really small video recorder capable of recording upto 60 minutes before you need to upload the video. It supports easy uploading to YouTube. It comes in Black, White, Pink or Orange.  The built in USB port makes it very handy to use.

How well does it work, well Ewan over at SMS Text News is currently trying one out in the Maldives, and finding it very useful with the underwater housing, although he did need to remember it’s not rechargeable.  Ewan also thinks the Flip  should not exist; the mobile phone manufacturers should have this market sewn up, but with the lack of easy transferring and uploading of the video content, he can understand why the Flip Video is so useful.  Also, James Whatley from SpinVox is trying one out at Glastonbury right now, so hopefully he’ll report back week how he found it.  Without a PC with him, he can’t upload any video until he returns, so will he find the 60 minute limit too small for a 3 day music festival?

Interestingly, James also took a Freeloader Solar Charger and a Loc8tor Lite, two devices we featured last week, so we’ll hopefully report back on how he found these too.


3 offering Spinvox trial

Monday, May 12th, 2008

3 logo

Scrolling around the 3 intranet the other day, we noticed that 3 offer a 7 day unlimited trial to Spinvox. Spinvox offer a voice to text service, so your voicemails are provided as SMS. You simply divert your phone to Spinvox, instead of the more usual 3 voicemail option. Once the trial is over, you move onto their chargeable, but low rate, service; although there is a limit to the number of messages you get before incurring more charges. What 3 fail to mention is whether the cost of the call diversion is chargeable or not, and we believe it is, which we feel 3 should state.

To signup, simply use Planet 3; if you can’t find it, head to Services, A-Z, and then select Spinvox.

Spinvox should work with any UK mobile, although for other networks you’ll need to sign up at Spinvox.



Tuesday, December 4th, 2007

This page links to any reviews we have written. We will try to keep this page up to date, but we will always announce any new reviews on the homepage first.

Reviews in 2007

3 SkypePhone

Pocket Surfer 2

Reviews in 2008

3 USB Modem

Dell Mini 9 / Vodafone Netbook

LG KF600

LG Viewty

LG Secret

Reviews in 2009

Android Application: Locale

Android Application: My Tracks

3 Mobile Wi-Fi unit (3UK MiFi)

IDAPT I3 Charging Station

INQ Mini 3G – First Looks & Full Review

LG Arena

LG GD900 Crystal

LG Chocolate BL40 – First Looks & Final Review

LG SL9000 LED-Backlit LCD TV

Novatel Intelligent Mobile Wireless Hotspot 2352 (MiFi) – First Looks

orbitsound T3 Speaker

Sony Ericsson T715

Reviews in 2010

Android Application: Tasker

3UK MiFi 2 – First Looks & First Review

Dell Streak (Quick Hands On)

HTC Hero

INQ Chat 3G

Location Based Services & Privacy

Nokia Booklet 3G

Novatel Intelligent Mobile Wireless Hotspot 2352 (MiFi) – Update & Full Review (Coming Soon)

Pibbix Voicemail

SanDisk Mobile MicroSDHC Memory Card

Symbian Application: Maps Booster

Symbian Application: Socially

Reviews in 2011

Humax HDR-Fox T2