I often tell people that one of the big advantages of VoIP is that it lets you check your voicemail on your PC. It's easier and faster to process messages on a computer screen than it is to wade through linear voice prompts. But cellular users and those who don't want to replace their home phone service are still stuck navigating voicemail the old-fashioned way.
A new service, GotVoice, can fix this for you. This clever and free product will dial up your voicemail service periodically, record your messages, and both save them on its Web site and e-mail them to you. If you sign up for a premium (paid) account, you can bypass the advertising and get more control over when the service checks your messages.
Plenty of "universal in-box" systems are available for big businesses and telephone companies. Many will port voicemail to e-mail. But GotVoice is the first system I've seen that end users can set up themselves on systems that don't have any voicemail export function.
I tried it. It works (although the caller IDs of people leaving messages didn't come through in my tests). I'm already using it to manage my home voicemail service. Even when I'm sitting right next to my phone, managing voicemail onscreen is much faster than doing it on the telephone. I expect this service will be even more useful when I am away from home, and especially when I am overseas; it could save me a lot of money in international calls for checking voicemail.
Also worth looking at: SpinVox, a European service that will turn voicemail into text and send it to your cell phone via SMS.