What you need

 

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What you need

Nanna and her granddaughter checking out the internet

What's coming up

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 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

Most computers, tablets and smartphones come with everything 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 need to download 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 three of the most popular programs later in this course.

A range of icons representing video calling
A magnified example of the camera that is centred at the top of a laptop screen

Finding the camera on a computer

The camera, or webcam, on a most laptops and computers is usually located near the screen. Around half the size of a 5 cent piece, it can be hard to see.

Some PCs don't have cameras built in.

If a desktop computer doesn't have a built-in webcam, you can attach a separate camera to the top of the screen.

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 handheld device

Smartphone and tablet cameras

Smartphones and tablets have a front camera, so you can see the screen while you're talking. The camera is usually located just above the screen, and looks like a small pinhole.

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

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 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 handheld device

Microphone and speakers on tablets and smartphones

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

The speakers on your tablet or smartphone are usually found here too.

Don't worry if you can't see the 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 free from the internet or come with your computer or mobile phone.

Some of the more popular ones are Skype, FaceTime (if you and the person you are calling own Apple devices), or WhatsApp.

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

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

For a video call to work, the person you want to call must have the same video calling app as you.

Showing two devices with the same video calling app open

What do I need?

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

Nothing

Click to flip

Correct

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

Congratulations!

Well done, you've completed the What you need activity on video calling.

You should now understand 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.