To make a Skype call, you need a computer (either PC or Mac), an Internet connection, speakers and a microphone. If you're making video calls, a webcam is necessary. For the highest quality experience, Skype recommends that you use a headset or handset instead of built-in microphones and speakers because they provide better audio quality.
Skype allows you to make a range of types of calls over the Internet, including both audio and video calls. Video calling potential includes group calls with seven or more individual users participating at a time. The computer requirements for using Skype depend on a number of factors, including the types of calls being made.
A broadband connection is the ideal type of Internet connection for Skype, producing the best results for calls. According to Skype, most Internet connections are sufficient for audio-only calls. However, video calls require broadband to work well. As the connection grows more complex, the bandwidth requirements increase. Skype allows you to test your bandwidth capability before a call to gauge whether it is sufficient for the call you plan to make.
Minimum and Recommended Speeds
Skype provides guidelines for the minimum and recommended download and upload speeds for calls depending on the type of call. Basic audio calls require the least bandwidth, needing a minimum of 30 kbps for downloading and uploading and a recommended 100 kbps. For basic video calls with screen sharing, Skype cites a minimum of 128 kbps download and upload and a recommended 300 kbps. HD video calling jumps to a minimum of 1.2 Mbps download and upload and a recommended 1.5 Mbps. The highest bandwidth requirement is for video calling of seven people or more, which needs 4 Mbps download and 128 kbps upload and recommends 8 Mbps download and 512 kbps upload.
Skype can run on Windows, Mac and Linux operating systems. For Windows, Skype works on Windows XP, Windows 7 and Windows Vista. For Mac, Skype works on the Leopard, Snow Leopard and Lion versions of the operating system. For Linux, Skype is supported on Ubuntu 8.10+ 32-bit, Ubuntu 8.10+ 64-bit, Debian Lenny, Fedora 10+, OpenSUSE 11+ and Dynamic Static. Each operating system has individual requirements for processor and RAM capabilities, as well as additional software necessary.