Top Home Tech for Video Calling
Find key hardware tech options for the best way to get virtual face time with family, friends or coworkers.
In this digital age, it’s easy to find great tech designed to bring you virtually face-to-face for work or social reasons. Here are some of the top options, to help you find the best setup for your capabilities and comfort level.
Video Calls on Nest Hub Max
Google’s Nest Hub Max has a 10-in. touchscreen display, along with a camera for video calling and gesture controlled navigation that lets you, say, hold your hand up in a “stop” gesture to pause the song that’s playing. It comes with Google Assistant, too, which allows you do lots of things with simple voice commands, from controlling your TV to initiating a video call.
The Nest Hub uses the Google Duo app for video calling, which can communicate with others on the app using another Next Hub Max or an Android phone, iPhone or computer. It also has an auto-framing feature, so the camera pans, tilts and zooms to keep the user in the center of the frame. There is some initial setup and a Google account required. After that, you can make a video call right on the Nest Hub screen with just a voice command, such as, “Hey Google, call Mom.”
Video Calls on the Amazon Echo Show
Amazon’s Echo Show allows you to control media and smart home devices, has a camera for video calling, and comes in three screen sizes: Five, eight or 10 inches. You can make Skype video calls via the Alexa app, using the voice command, “Alexa, call Jane on Skype,” or end calls with, “Alexa, end call.”
Broad compatibility with popular mobile and computer platforms allows you connect with anyone using the app on an Android or iPhone, a computer web browser or their own Echo Show device, as well as people who don’t have video setup at their regular number.
The Echo Show 10 has the best sound quality and largest speakers (2-2/10 inches) of the Echo Show lineup. That’s a worthwhile upgrade if you like listening to loud music, or if you need more volume to hear voice or video calls clearly.
Video Calls on Facebook Portal
Facebook’s Portal is another standalone device option, like the Nest Hub Max or the Echo Show, that comes with a camera and 10-in. screen. It’s a niche player in the dedicated video calling device field. But it offers compelling features for Facebook devotees since it uses Facebook Messenger or WhatsApp to make video calls using the touchscreen or with the voice command, “Hey Portal, call John.”
Both apps are available on most mobile and computer platforms, so you can reach anyone with those devices. It also has some cool features: Smart camera tech that zooms and pans to follow you and keep you in-frame; the ability to switch off the mic and camera; and completely cover the camera for virtually hack-proof video privacy.
Video Calls on Mobile Devices
There are an array of free video calling apps, such as WhatsApp and Zoom, to facilitate easy video calls on smartphones and tablets. Many have broad compatibility, too, allowing communication across different operating systems — iOS to Android, for example.
Smartphones are the smallest in the range of options, with great portability and convenience. But smaller screens do make for a smaller experience, especially if eyesight is a challenge. If that’s the case, a larger tablet option could upgrade your experience.
Video Calls on Laptops and Computers
Desktop and laptop computers offer a versatile array of options for video calling through apps. Many are the same ones you might use on your smartphone or tablet, just made for Windows, Mac, Linux or a web browser. Computers will offer a similar video calling experience as you’d get on a smartphone, tablet or smart hub, but with less portability.
In the plus column: Easy use of broader support items like a mouse and a keyboard, which are helpful if you need to type or navigating the internet during your video call. (Such items are add-on options for mobile devices now, too). You’ll also find options for more powerful document sharing and collaborative editing options on a computer with work-centric video calling apps, such as Microsoft Teams.