I have a related question to the laptop. My daughter's laptop does not have a video cam, but I can still Skype, right? Maybe dig up an old microphone? Last trip I loved using 3Utelecom at 4.5 cents a minute, but now they charge 5 cents to use the local access number in each country. Skyping is free, so I would think this would be better than a phone card, right? Any tips on doing this will be much appreciated.
Yep, you can use skype without a webcam if you have a microphone. I skype with my parents all the time within the US - from my computer to theirs. When I was in Europe 2 years ago, I brought my laptop and skyped home. Skyping is only free skyping to another computer, otherwise there's a minimal charge if you want to skype to a landline or cell phone. The best tip I can give is to download skype onto your computer and practice with it before you go! Also, some internet cafes have skype and headsets. I used it in Rome, for example.
Used Skype on my recent trip to France/Ireland. So convenient if you have wifi! 2.1 cents to call the US per minute (but free to other Skype users).
I could even call home to check messages on my answering machine and to call hotels, etc in Europe (2.1 cents).
Before you buy or dig-up that old microphone, see if your Laptop already has one built into it. Even if it doesn't have a webcam, it probably has a mic.
your laptop should have a mic.
....but use a separate mic for better sound quality. The mics on computers are very poor...and you're usually too far away from them.
Test the built in mic, if you have one, before you go to check the quality. If it's OK, to save space just take a flexible set of ear buds so others don't have to hear your conversation. That will also minimize any feedback through the built in mic. And when not in use, just bunch them up or wind them up and stow them away somewhere.
Another suggestion not Skype related but... If you watch movies on your laptop or netbook, take an extra set of ear buds and a Y adapter so that someone else can watch with you... on a plane or in a hostel or wherever. Great way to make friends.
You can buy a pretty decent mike for your laptop at Best Buy. It looks like a big mike with a stand but, if you look close, the end of the mike comes out and can be plugged into the front of a desktop or laptop. It's only about an inch and 1/2 long and about a 1/2 in diameter (at most) and the end can be swiveled and pointed in any direction.
Can anyone give their thoughts on Yahoo Voice versus Skype. Yahoo Voice seems to be cheaper. I've read negative comments about both on different boards concerning ability to make a connection and poor tech support. Thanks for any comments