If you’re like me and have relatives far, far away (can’t get much farther than Korea), the holidays are a great time to re-connect. Times have changed a great deal from when we used to call an operator to connect to Seoul and then could only speak through a barely audible, crackly connection. Now, through the magic of technology and videoconferencing, you can get as close as you possibly can to your loved ones thousands of miles away.
Depending on what you’re looking for, either wanting to videoconference on a call-by-call basis or needing a more long-term solution, here are a handful of options:
Skype has become a household name, pretty much because it’s so awesome. Free face-to-face video calls for free? Yes, please. Skype also enables group calling features (10 person max), but one of the call members must have Skype premium which vary in price depending on which package you want. You can even video chat from your phones with the Skype mobile app.
ooVoo may not be a household name yet, but I bet it’ll get there soon. Upon downloading ooVoo video chat software to your PC or smartphone, you can instantly have access to free videoconferencing up to 6 people at once! And if you pay for the ooVoo premium service, you can bump up that number and have a videoconferencing party with 12 people.
If you have a later model iPhone, iPad or Mac, you can enjoy Facetime with anyone who also has the same. With clear video and sound quality, this very cool feature video calling feature let you connect with anyone at anytime with the touch of a button. But unlike the services above, Facetime is only available for one-on-one calls.
With all this Facetime talk, I know what you Android users are thinking–but here’s something for you too. You can Tango! Tango is a free video calling service that works across platforms–everyone from PC, iPhone, Windows 7 and Android users. As long as your cross-platform friends have Tango on their platforms, you can do the dance with them for one-on-one calling.
If you’re looking for something more permanent, the Cisco Umi is definitely a device to consider. The Umi is hardware that you attach to your actual TV, and is more of a commitment (and cost) than the other options here. However the Umi boasts a much broader range of features than what you get with free video calling, like getting a full TV screen view of people you’re calling and being able to leave video messages for people if they’re not there. To justify the very high cost, it would make most sense if you’re using it frequently to communicate with family members abroad (Umi is becoming popular on military bases) or if you use it professionally. –Jeana