Choosing a Webcam and Microphone for Skype

July 8, 2011, By Christian Cawley

Skype seems to be everywhere right now, from mobile phones to desktops and tablets, even on Facebook! Therefore, it is increasingly important that if you haven’t already used the service, you do so now and finally get to grips with the wonder that is text, voice and webcam chat.

Whether you’re using Windows, Mac OS X or one of the Linux distros you should be aware that there is a version of Skype for you, and depending on your computer you will need to find a suitable webcam and microphone to take advantage of the service.

There are many different devices on offer, from Skype-branded phone headsets and cameras to cheaper equipment that may or may not work just as well.

Ultimately, the peripherals that you purchase for voice or webcam chat should be the ones that you are most comfortable with.

Choosing a webcam to use with Skype

Headsets for Skype

Rather than use a standard computer microphone and your desktop speakers, to avoid echoes and feedback the best option for using Skype is to purchase a headset.

There are many different devices available, some USB, some phono, and these are all of varying quality. Some are supposedly intended for specific use with Skype, but don’t be taken in by these claims as you might end up with an over-priced piece of junk.

Of sound quality isn’t an issue then you should be happy to purchase the cheapest headset that you can find, however note that if you are a regular Skyper or perhaps intend to record podcasts then you should be spending a bit more money to find a headset with a good quality microphone that doesn’t pick up background noise.

Skype Handsets

In addition to headsets, various USB telephone handsets are available that can be used for voice chats on Skype. By connecting these devices to your computer you can take advantage of Skype as if it was a full telephone system (which is the case for people who purchase call credits) but also use the handset for Skype to Skype calls.

While these handsets aren’t as practical as headsets – after all, it is tricky to use a computer one-handed – they do allow you to employ Skype in a different way. You might even install the application on a media center and use a handset in lieu of your usual landline telephone!

Webcams and Microphones

If you don’t own a standard webcam already, forget about buying the first one you stumble across and instead look for a device with a built in microphone.

These are becoming increasingly popular and can be used to great effect, not least preventing you from looking slightly odd with a headset on! This type of webcam is also useful for saving desktop space and thanks to the position of the microphone (mounted on the cam which should typically be situated on your monitor) you will encounter few sound related issues with your desktop speakers.

With a suitable webcam and microphone selected, the final step in getting ready to use Skype to its full capabilities is setting up your hardware…

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