By Amy Hunt
In these strange times, scheduling a Zoom call with your nearest and dearest has become the new meeting up at the pub.
As a result of the coronavirus, we've all had to adapt to communicating in a solely digital way, trading in our Sunday lunches, family dinners, and social get-togethers for video chats, virtual parties, WhatsApps and text messages,.
And while it looks as though we're set to maintain that form of socialising for at least the next few weeks (and maybe months), we thought it was about time we all make those important video calls as easy and as functional as possible. After all, the communication with our loved ones is essential to so many of us at the moment - not least those who are isolated alone, or those who are vulnerable at this time.
Lets not complicate matters - using your phone or laptop works just fine. But hands up - who else is tired of having to hold their phone to their face for an hour-long video call? Or trying to squeeze the whole family in to one tiny smart phone screen?
Enter: the essential tech kit you need to make your next video catch-up with friends and family the best one yet.
And never fear - we've selected bits that aren't too tricky to figure out, so you won't spend hours fumbling about with the instructions...
Read on for our round-up of the best video call equipment...
The best video call equipment for video chatting with friends and family
YAMAY Bluetooth Headset
£32.99, amazon.co.uk An Amazon best-seller, this device is perfect for those who want crystal-clear sound on their video calls. Using these noise-cancelling headphones can help to block out background noise during your chat, and you can even mute the microphone any time you want - perhaps during a sneeze you don't want everyone hearing! The operate on Bluetooth so are wireless too, while the microphone amplifier ensures top-notch sound quality.
Joby GripTight Action Kit Tripod for phone
£49.99, amazon.co.uk This handy little device fits most smartphones within it, with or without a case - so you need never suffer aching arms again whilst chatting. It's got secure lever clamps to ensure your device doesn't fall during a call (or ever), and the flexible stand means you can even carry the tripod around if you want to nip and make a quick cup of tea in the other room.
Portal Mini White 8" from Facebook
£119.95, amazon.co.uk See your family and friends (and let them see you), on a far wider screen than your smart phone with this mini portal, which moves with you as you talk, ensuring you always stay in the frame. It works easily with Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp, and can even act as an Alexa, playing music and letting you control your smart home. If you're worried about too much noise during video calls, the portal uses smart sound to enhance voices, while minimising background noise.
PAPALOOK Webcam 1080P Full HD PC Skype Camera
£64.99, amazon.co.uk If your current device doesn't already have a built-in webcam, this is essential buying for video calls! Simply plug this in to your laptop/computer and video chat instantly with Skype, Windows Messenger, AOL Instant Messenger. You can also take pictures and make recordings - so if the grandkids are being extra adorable, capture the moment forever.
AMAZON Echo Show 8 (2019) - Sandstone
£69.99, currys.co.uk The Amazon Echo, which is a similar device to the Facebook Portal, allows you to make hands-free video calls to family and friends who have an Echo Show, Echo Spot, or the Alexa app on their smartphone. They've also addressed important security concerns - there's a button to turn off the microphone and a cover for the camera, for when you're done. And when you've finished with your video call for the done, you can also use it for hands-free recipe following in the kitchen! So long recipe books...
Sony Noise Cancelling Wireless Bluetooth NFC Over-Ear Headphones with Mic/Remote
£99.99, johnlewis.com Everyone needs a good pair of headphones - during a pandemic and beyond. This noise-cancelling option is one of the most affordable options on the market, and they look sleek and stylish too. They're wireless, so won't get frustratingly tangled, and have a battery life of up to 35 hours - more than enough for a family catch-up (hopefully!) They are compatible with Google Assistant, and iOS / Android phones.
Proper Deluxe Aluminium Laptop Stand
£49.99, staall.com If you're video chatting on a laptop, you might not have find the perfect angle for your video yet...enter the laptop stand. The gentle slope of the stand allows you to position your laptop perfectly for your next chat - and when the call is over, you'll have a more comfortable angle to type at, too.
Amy Hunt is Life Channel Editor at womanandhome.com, having been with the brand since 2015. She began as the magazine's features assistant before moving over to digital as a News and Features Writer, before becoming Senior Writer, and now a Channel Editor. She has worked on either women's lifestyle websites previously too—including Woman's Weekly, Goodto.com, Woman, and Woman's Own. In 2019, Amy won the Digital Journalist of the Year award at the AOP Awards, for her work on womanandhome.com. She is passionate about everything from books, to homes, to food and the latest news on the royal family. When she isn't editing or updating articles on cleaning, homewares, the newest home gadgets, or the latest books releases for the website, she's busy burying her nose in a gripping thriller, practising yoga, or buying new homeware of her own.
When does Strictly Come Dancing 2021 start?
Strictly Come Dancing 2021 is finally back on our screens after months of anticipation
By Emma Dooney •
When is Help on Channel 4 and what is the Jodie Comer TV drama about?
Help shines a light on unsung heroes during the Covid-19 pandemic and stars Jodie Comer and Stephen Graham
By Emma Shacklock •
9 gin advent calendars to buy now ready for Christmas
Celebrate Ginmas with the best gin advent calendars for 2021, featuring award-winning producers and smaller boutique distilleries
By Lauren Hughes •
50+ Best beauty advent calendars for Christmas 2021: festive options that'll make your days merry and bright
Discover the best beauty advent calendars across makeup, skincare, wellness, body, and haircare. Here's what's to shop now versus what's coming soon
By Dominique McIntee •
The best jewelry advent calendars of 2021
Meet the best jewelry advent calendars of 2021, bursting with sparkly gems and classics that'll elevate your accessory arsenal
By Frankie Graddon •
The best Christmas hampers for 2021—festive treats for you or a loved one
Explore our selection of the best Christmas hampers for friends, family, or just as a gift to yourself
By Samuel Goldsmith •
The best 50th birthday gift ideas: from luxury jewelry to travel experiences
Celebrate the milestone with these 50th birthday gift ideas, with options for every type of Gen-Xer out there
By Rachael Martin •
The best 18th birthday gifts that they'll actually use and appreciate
We've rounded up the best 18th birthday gifts that'll help your teen navigate adulthood, from practical finds to sentimental treasures
By Dominique McIntee •
The 15 most popular Prime Day deals under $25 are quite boring—but you won't regret buying them
It's not too late to scoop up killer Prime Day deals under $25—and we've rounded up 15 of the most practical buys out there
By Dominique McIntee •
The iconic Kate Middleton trainers are finally on sale for Amazon Prime Day
Often called the 'Kate Middleton trainers', Superga's classic shoes are on sale at an amazing deal for Amazon Prime Day
By Aleesha Badkar •