Facebook’s new Video Calling service is powered by Skype; perhaps because of that, it’s simple and straightforward to use. You’ll first need to download a plugin by going to www.facebook.com/videocalling, clicking on the Get Started button, then on the Setup button. At that point, you’ll download and install a Java plugin.
You don’t, however, necessarily need to head there first. When you receive or try to make your first video call, you’ll be prompted to install the plugin. I found this out because when I tried going to www.facebook.com/videocalling on my MacBook Air, I received an error message. However, when I tried just clicking the video icon in Facebook chat to make a video call, the plugin installed with no problems.
Once you’ve got the plugin installed, making a video call is exceptionally easy. Look at the list of your friends (in the lower right-hand corner of your Facebook page) who are currently available on Facebook chat. Double-click a name, and you’ll see there’s a new icon at the top of the chat screen — a small video camera. Click it to send an invitation for that person to participate in a video chat. They’ll receive a pop-up notification to a video chat, and if they don’t have the plugin installed, they’ll be prompted to install it.
I found the video and sound quality of video calling in Facebook to be quite good — there was little, if any, video lag and the sound came through crisp and clear with no delay. This shouldn’t be a surprise; Skype has been around for a while, and so has had time to iron out any video or audio bugs.
Using video chat is simple and straightforward — just look at the camera and talk. As with most chat apps, the video of the person with whom you’re chatting takes up most of the screen, and you see a small thumbnail of your own video in a corner of the screen. You can move the video chat screen around your display and resize it as well. Ready to sign off? Just put your cursor anywhere in the video window, and a small labeled button will invite you to end the session.