Burton Kelso, Tech Expert
How to Celebrate the Holidays with Family and Friends Remotely
Even though we are living in times of social distancing, life always goes which means there is always something to celebrate. Family dinners and holiday parties with friends form a large part of the holiday traditions, but all of that has come to a halt in the midst of all the lockdown regulations and calls for social distancing. Thankfully, we live in the digital age which has given us the ability to visit anyone in the world while being in the comfort of our own home. If you're looking for hi-tech ways to keep in contact with friends and family this holiday season, check out these easy to use tips.
1. Pick the Right Tools. One of the first tools you need if you're planning to make video calls is strong and fast internet. I know I keep talking about this, but the best tool to use is Speedtest.net (speedtest.net). You and your family need to have a download speed of at least 25 Mbps (megabits per second) to get crystal clear calls. Another tool is a good webcam. If you are planning on making calls from a newer Windows laptop or iMac, Macbook Air or Macbook Pro, or from a smart home device, you're covered. If you have a Windows Desktop, Mac Mini, or an older laptop, the Logitech C920 is an excellent HD webcam that will support your video streaming needs.
2. Choose the right video conference software or device. There are plenty of pieces of technology that will allow you to keep in contact with family and friends, but the trick is to find the one that works the best for all members of your family. Here are your options:
Zoom. Zoom has increased in popularity during the pandemic. It's a free and easy-to-use interface that works on all computers and smartphones. You send your family member a link, which downloads the Zoom app onto your device. You can simultaneously talk to up to 100 friends and family members. If you aren't sure which devices your family members have, Zoom is the best choice. You can even record the meeting to save and share with people.
Skye. lets you make free calls for up to 50 friends and family members and friends. The challenging thing with Skype is that you have to set up a Microsoft account in order to use the service. Great if you are someone who is familiar with technology or if you're already signed up with Microsoft 365, but can be a challenge to those family members who aren't tech-savvy.
Facetime. This is Apple's own easy to use video conference software. If you use Group Facetime, you can chat with up to 32 people ... as long as they are all using Apple devices. If your family isn't all on Apple devices, this isn't the tool for you.
Houseparty. This app has been around for a while but gained in popularity during the early stages of the pandemic. Geared to a younger audience, Houseparty allows you to have a maximum of 8 guests per video call.
Google Meet. If you have a Gmail account, you have access to this free service that allows you to talk to up to 100 people for a maximum of 1 hour with a free account.
Google Nest Hub/Amazon Echo Show: Smarthome devices from Google and Amazon are considered more as a smart home hub rather than a device that can be used to keep in contact with family and loved ones. With the Nest Hub and the Echo Show, you can make video calls to others. These devices are easy to set up and work via voice response which makes them easy to use for people who don't have great tech skills.
3. The sky is the limit. Face to face during the holidays is wonderful and heartwarming, but you can still remotely make this holiday season special for you and your family. More than ever, it's important that we make this holiday season even more magical than before.
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