What you need


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What you need

Nanna and her granddaughter checking out the internet

What's coming up?

So, what do you you need to make video calls?

You may be surprised to find that the answer is "not much". In fact, if you have access to the internet, plus a computer, smartphone or tablet, you probably already have everything you need.

In this activity, we'll look at the various things you need to make video calls, and show you where you might find them on your device.

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What you need for video calling

You will need access to the internet, as that is how the devices are able to send and receive video and audio data, plus a computer or smart device capable of connecting to the internet. Most laptop computers, tablets and smartphones come with everything else you need to make video calls built right in. These include:

  • a camera, or webcam, for capturing video
  • a microphone for talking into
  • speakers for hearing the person you're calling.

You will also need a video calling program, or application (app for short) to make the video calls. But don't worry, this is free and we will show you how to download some of the most popular programs later in this course.

A range of icons representing video calling apps, including Zoome, Skype, WhatsApp and FaceTime
A graphic of laptop computer highlighting the location of the built in camera.

Finding the camera on a computer

The camera, or webcam, on a most laptops and computers is usually located near the top of the screen, often in the middle. Around half the size of a five cent piece, it can be hard to see.

Some PCs don't have cameras built in

Some older desktop computers don't have built-in cameras. If your computer doesn't have a webcam, you can purchase and attach a separate camera to the top of the screen.

Most electronic stores sell them and they can be relatively inexpensive. You won't need a top-of-the-range camera; a basic one can do the job well. The staff in the store will be able to help you find the best webcam for your computer and budget.

An example of an external camera that is attached and centred at the top of a computer screen
A magnified example of the camera that is centred at the top of a smart device

Smartphone and tablet cameras

Smartphones and tablets have a front-facing camera built in, allowing the person you are video chatting with to see you on their screen. The front-facing camera on their device allows you to see them on your screen. The camera is usually located just at the top of the screen, and looks like a small pinhole.

When you make a call, make sure you are holding the device comfortably, with the screen facing towards you so the camera can see you clearly.

Microphone and speakers on computers

On a laptop computer, the speakers are usually positioned near the keyboard, while some desktop computers may have speakers built into the screen.

If you have a desktop computer, check with a friend or family member to see if it has a microphone and speakers built in. If you need to add a separate webcam (a camera) to your desktop computer, look for one that has a microphone built-in.

An example of where speakers may be found on a laptop
An example of where speakers may be found at the base of a smart device

Microphone and speakers on tablets and smartphones

The speakers on your tablet or smartphone are usually found on an edge of the device, often at the bottom.

They are tricky to see, so don’t worry if you can't see the microphone or speakers on your tablet or smartphone. It’s enough to know they are there and doing their job for you.

Video calling applications

Most video calling applications - or apps - are available for free from the official app stores. Some come pre-installed on your computer, tablet or mobile phone.

Some of the more popular ones are Skype, FaceTime (comes preinstalled on Apple devices), Zoom and WhatsApp.

A FaceTime icon on a smart device screen
Skype can be used on computers, tablets and smartphones

It's your choice of device

You can usually use the same video calling app on your desktop or laptop computer, tablet or smartphone.

Some apps are better for mobile phones and might not work so well on a computer or tablet, however, so it depends on which type of app you want to use. We will explain more about this for each popular app later on in this course.

Use the same app

For a video call to work, the person you want to call must have the same video calling app as you. For example, you can call someone using WhatsApp so long as they have WhatsApp installed on their device.

Showing two devices with the same video calling app open

What do I need?

Let's take a quick test about video calling equipment.

I own a laptop computer. What do I need to buy to use video calling?


Click to flip


Most laptop computers come with everything you need, and video calling software is free to download.

Video camera and speakers

Click to flip

Sorry, that's not right.

Most laptops already have a video camera and speakers built in.

Different generations enjoying the internet together


You've completed the What you need activity on video calling.

You should now understand that you need the internet to make a video call. You should also know that most laptops, tablets and smartphones come with everything you need to make video calls, which makes getting set up easy. If you have a desktop computer, you may need to get a camera and speakers.

The camera on your device is an important part of making video calls, and in the next activity, Using the camera, we’ll go through how to best use the camera on your computer, smartphone or tablet.