Videochatting on Thanksgiving: An acceptable teleconferencing solution for the whole family

In late October I started thinking about how in the world we were going to videochat with family on Thanksgiving in a way that didn’t involve holding a phone at arm’s length while we tried to keep a baby from grabbing it. I got some advice to use a computer for the video portion and an external speakerphone–like you might see in a conference room–for the audio.

For us what ended up working was:

  • iMac at one end of the table. This is admittedly overkill, but nice to have an all-in-one solution for the “computer” part of this. You could easily use a laptop, or a laptop connected to a tv.
  • External webcam (Logitech c920). What you’re mostly after here is a wider field of view than your computer’s camera. The wider field of view meant we all didn’t have to be directly on top of each other to be in frame.
  • External speakerphone puck (Jabra 410). I think this worked better than the iMac, but didn’t do any comparisons. Regardless, it was nice to have something that could be more centralized in the room rather than tied to the computer. I’m unlikely to use this thing more than a few times, but for the few times we use it it will be massively helpful.

Of course I didn’t grab a photo of this setup, but it ended up working very well! Bounced between Skype and FaceTime depending on what people had. Next time we do this I’m going to try use the TV as our display and put the webcam on top of the TV. It’s not the same as being in the same room, but needs must.