September 08, 2009, 4:58 PM — Sifting through all of the free sites and services available on the Web, you've probably come up with some favorites, such as instant messaging tools or video streaming sites like Hulu. Those are great, but what about freebies that displace something for which you usually pay? Think beyond free antivirus software and other no-cost PC utilities--how would you like free long-distance calling, MP3 downloads, e-books, and text messaging? I'll show you how to score those and more.
Some of these offerings, such as free services for making and receiving faxes, are for an introductory level of a paid product. Others are ad-supported or public services. But each one is a compelling way to get something, for free, that ordinarily costs you money. In many cases you'll get just as much as what you used to pay for--or more.
Make Free Long-Distance Calls
Sure, you can voice-chat around the world through Skype and other services. But Talkster lets you reach out and touch an actual telephone in addition to online calling options.
Free long-distance and international calls are worth putting up with a couple drawbacks. The service requires you to perform a convoluted dialing procedure: It gives you a special local number to reach a faraway friend, and your pal gets a local number too. You dial your local number, after which you have 10 seconds to tell your buddy to call back on their local number. You stay on the line and wait while they hang up and dial back.
You might hear an ad while waiting to connect again, but the two of you can talk as long as you want after the hook-up is complete. I thought calls sounded good, although one call recipient questioned the quality.
Send and Receive Faxes, No Fees Involved
Qipit lets you send up to five faxes each week for free. You can upload JPEG images or even send them directly from a camera phone. Free faxes include a header banner that mentions Qipit.
FaxZero limits you to two faxes of three pages each day, and its transmissions include a FaxZero-branded coversheet. But instead of sending images, FaxZero takes PDFs and Word documents, making it a better choice for PC-based use.