Armed with a PC, you can send emails, IMs or photos as well as make voice calls -- but a new survey suggests that when it comes to that far-from-home chat or Christmas catchup, phones still top the polls. Why are we so reluctant to embrace new communications options? Of course, like most surveys, this one comes with a not-so-hidden agenda. VOIP service Skype sponsored the research on 1,000 Australian adults, so the intended message is clear: y'all ought to be using our software a bit more. But the results don't actually suggest that is happening at all. When asked which methods they would use to stay in touch over Christmas, by far the most popular choice was landline calling, chosen by 66%. Email was close behind with 65%, followed by sending cards (52%) mobile phone (46%), sending gifts (32%) instant messaging (29%) and social networking sites (15%). Making online voice or video calls came right at the bottom of the chart, ranking at 13%. Unsurprisingly, those numbers were much higher for younger survey participants (50% of them planned to use IM, for example). However, when it came to making online voice and video calls, the numbers didn't shift much at all. Skype's explanation for this relative lack of enthusiasm for a free option (during what's supposed to be a period of economic penury) is that Christmas is a time for tradition, and very few people have the tradition of sitting down in front of the computer to VOIP up Grandma. More fool them In my lifestyle as an excessive traveller, I find myself constantly using Skype to make phone calls, and that's entirely because I'm cheap. Between the high charges for mobile calls overseas and the high charges for hotel room calls everywhere, there's really no other sensible alternative to whacking some credit on Skype and using it for outbound calls. OK, hotel room broadband is often a rort as well, but I'm gonna have to pay for that anyway, so I might as well milk that a bit further. There's also more people I know on Skype than any other service, so I might as well benefit from the network effect of being able to make some of the calls for free. On Christmas day, that's going to be the prevailing logic where I am: call everyone I can in as cheap a way as possible, and email the people for whom time differences or other issues make it unfeasible. Not much different to any other day on the road, I suppose. Lifehacker Australia editor Angus Kidman still doesn't think Skype 4.0 makes a whole lot of sense. His Road Worrier column, looking at technology and organising tips for travellers, appears each week on Lifehacker.