I recently bought a usb-phone to use with Skype (the same as the Firebox one mentioned before, but called the Cyberphone K and from Maplins) and it works very nicely indeed. Since then I’ve found myself using Skype a lot more – I know some favour headsets because they can do other things during a call like typing etc, but I prefer a standard phone setup.
There are some third-parties out there writing software to use with Skype, and one of them is Alex Rosenbaum who has come up with a great free/donationware windows application called Skype Answering Machine (SAM) that turns your Skype into a fully-featured digital answering machine whilst you are away. You can then play back the messages when you return and hit a button to call the person back. Future releases plan to let you have the sound file automatically emailed to you so you could pick up your messages anywhere, and also be able to record conversations – which I’m sure will be extremely useful for journalists needing a recording to check against their notes, or for legal purposes.
It’s not exactly the same as the paid-for Skype Voicemail service but is definitely a worthy alternative that may actually suit some users better. There’s also a similar product called HotRecorder that comes in both free-but-advertising-supported and paid-for versions.
If you are actually interested in all this stuff, Skype Journal is a good place to look for the latest news.