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How to keep in touch with family and friends this Christmas

The last decade has seen an explosion in how we can stay connected on the move and use services like Skype and Google Talk to keep in touch with our friends and loved ones.

Obviously the explosion of mobile phones has meant we can call and text, but that isn’t always possible – and you may want to have a video chat, too! If you don’t have a webcam already, check out the ones available from Comet – many have built-in microphones, too!

Connecting via mobile broadband

Of course, wherever you are, you’ll need a decent internet connection. The mobile internet through smartphones, 3G tablets and mobile broadband is now highly reliable – check out the latest mobile broadband deals.

Connecting via Wi-Fi

You can now find a Wi-Fi hotspot in most coffee shops, bars and other public places such as train stations. If you often connect to Wi-Fi networks, you can buy access either at the hotspot or in advance from the big hotspot providers like BT Openzone and The Cloud.

If you’re a BT Broadband customer, you can also get free BT Openzone broadband on the go.
Of course many smartphones tariffs come with data included, but you should always be careful of the amount of data you’re using even if you’re on a generous tariff.

Skype

Skype is the most popular way to voice or video chat globally and often has more than 20 million people online at any one time. It works on many smartphones (over Wi-Fi) as well as Windows and Apple Mac computers. Everybody you want to talk to will need to have a Skype account so you can add them to your contacts list and, if you want to voice chat, you’ll also need a webcam.

Thankfully this is becoming less of an issue since almost all laptops now ship with cameras while smartphones and tablets like the iPad 2 have forward-facing cameras for video chats.

Facebook and Windows Live

Facebook now also has the ability to use Skype video chat directly from its chat window so there’s no need to use the Skype application if everybody you want to chat to is already on Facebook.
If you have a Windows Live account (including Hotmail), you can also video chat using Windows Live Messenger.

Google Talk

Gmail (sometimes called Google Mail) also features Google Talk, which also enables you to video chat using a quick download. Google Talk is also incorporated into Google’s new Facebook-rival, Google+, as well as Android smartphones and tablets.

All these services also support instant messaging too, so if you want to send a quick message rather than call you can easily do that too.

The great thing about devices such as smartphones and tablets is that they enable us to be constantly connected and bring us closer to home even when we’re on the other side of the globe.

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