It’s hard to think of one technology that has been more central to our lives during the pandemic than video calling. And even as we are starting to get back to “normal," one thing is certain: Video calling remains a key tool in both our careers and our personal lives.
- How to make a video call on Google Chromecast with Google TV
- How to make a video call on Facebook Portal TV
- How to make a video call on Amazon Fire TV Cube
- How to make a video call on TiVo Stream 4K
- How to make a video call on Mecool Now
- How to make a video call on Android TV, Samsung Smart TV, or Fire TV
- How to make a video call on Xbox One, Series S, or Series X
- How to make a video call using your phone as a wireless webcam
- How to make a video call by mirroring your phone, tablet, or PC to your TV
But despite the prominence that video calling has gained, it’s remarkable that so few of us do this activity on the largest screens in the house: Our TVs. By “remarkable,” I mean ridiculous. And when I say ridiculous, I’m talking about how virtually none of the tech companies that make smart TVs, game consoles, or streaming media devices (yes, Microsoft, Apple, and Google, I’m looking at you) have stepped up to make video calling on a TV a task that’s as easy (and versatile) as doing it from a computer or
There are, however, several ways to get these calls onto a TV. Some are elegant, some are awkward, and none are perfect solutions.
Google’s latest streaming media player, the, is a superb and affordable media machine, but it also has an unadvertised (and unofficially supported) feature.
You can buy a USB hub and use it to connect a USB webcam to the streaming dongle. From there, you simply load the Google Duo app from the Google Play store, and voila, you’ll now be able to make TV-based video calls with any other Google Duo user. The one catch is that, for the moment, the Duo app seems to be restricted to outgoing calls only.
Because the Chromecast with Google TV runs a version of Android TV, this little trick should work with any video-calling app that you can find on the Play Store, and possibly apps that can be sideloaded onto the device, but don’t count on it — as I said, none of this is officially supported by Google.
It’s weird to think that Facebook, a company better known for its massive social media and messaging presence than for its hardware, has one of the best ways to video chat on your TV, but it does.is a device that incorporates a webcam and microphones and perches atop your TV. The smart camera can automatically follow you as you move around the room, and built-in apps like Netflix and Spotify make it a handy alternative to other streaming devices.
You can use it to call other Facebook Portal devices, but it also works with other video-calling apps, too, like Zoom, BlueJeans, GoToMeeting, or Webex.
Naturally, because it’s a
Curiously, even though Amazon Alexa is built into Portal TV, Alexa-based video calls are not supported. Unfortunately, neither are Google Duo/Meet nor Skype, which means that as clever as the Portal TV is, it’s not as flexible as we’d like.
Not everyone is going to be comfortable trusting a camera- and mic-equipped product from
Amazon makes several great Fire TV streaming devices, but itshas one very cool feature that helps it stand out from the streaming device pack:
You can buy an inexpensive USB webcam, hook it up to the Cube, and use the device to make free two-way video calls with anyone with an Alexa-equipped
You can use
The one caveat is that the Fire TV Cube does not have a USB-A port, which is what virtually all webcams require. Instead, it has a MicroUSB port. This means that in order to use a webcam, you'll need a MicroUSB to USB-A adapter cable, sometimes known as an On-The-Go (OTG) cable. Fortunately these can be purchased for just a few dollars.
This solution doesn’t have the
It perches above your TV (or you can mount it on a tripod), and its built-in webcam and microphone are all you need to make TV-based calls via Google Duo.
It’s also a full-fledged
Several companies — including Sony, Hisense, and TCL — use Android TV as their smart TV software, which means they, too, should work with Google Duo or any other video-calling app that can be downloaded from the Google Play Store. However, you’ll need a USB webcam for this to work — and that’s where things get a bit tricky.
Theoretically, almost any USB webcam should work. In practice, those who have tried this solution have had mixed results.
What we've found is that TVs that support the newest version of
Google’s Duo is also available for compatible Samsung’s Tizen OS, which powers its smart TVs if you have a USB webcam.
Finally, Amazon's Fire TV Omni now supports Zoom calling using a USB webcam. According to the company, this TV supports several Logitech models, and all you need to do is plug one into an available USB port on the back of the TV and you're in business. As with the Fire TV Cube, you'll be able to use
This option is heavily Microsoft-centric in that it requires an Xbox gaming console (Xbox One/One S/One X/Series S/Series X), a USB webcam, and a Skype account.
Hooking up a webcam and installing the Skype app from the Xbox store will let you make Skype voice or video calls on the big screen.
As far as we know, Xbox consoles don’t support any other video-calling apps.
For years, Tellybean developed software that lets an
And while the company is now defunct, its software still works and you can download it from the Google Play Store for both
Once it’s installed, the software lets you make free video calls to other Tellybean users. The best part about this solution is that, for
If what you really want is to see your callers on a big screen, mirroring the content of your phone or tablet to your TV is by far the most flexible option, even if it’s not as convenient as having an all-in-one calling solution on the TV itself.
If you own an Apple device, AirPlay screen mirroring will let you project the audio and video from an iPhone, iPad, or Mac to an AirPlay 2-enabled streaming device or smart TV. This used to be something you needed an Apple TV to do, but these days, Apple has licensed its AirPlay tech to a wide variety of manufacturers.
Alternatively, Google’s Chromecast built-in casting technology can do the same thing from an
You’ll still use the camera and microphone built into your phone or tablet, and there are a number of great accessories out there that let you mount these gadgets on stands, tripods, or clamps with flexible goosenecks.
- The living room tripod is now officially a thing you need
- Apple TV getting FaceTime, Memories screensaver, and remote finder
- How to do two-way Zoom calling on an Amazon Fire TV Cube
- Zoom for Home devices give you a second screen just for video calls
- Google is making it easier to add streaming video services to Android TV