What Software Do I Need?

My daughter’s husband has to travel quite a bit for his job. Daughter needs some type of software that would allow husband to interact and help teach kids while he’s away. That means he needs to be able to see and hear what the kids are doing on the computer and talk to them, and vice versa.

Both parties are on laptops with Windows 7 or 10. Additional hardware would have to be a video camera and microphone for each computer.

Searching the web gives me a lot of info on video conferencing and virtual classroom software, but it all seems to be directed toward large corporate and educational clients.

Easy to set up and use would be essential, and free would be great, but if free means having to put up with ads or onerous limitations, then daughter and SIL would be willing to pay a onetime charge or a modest monthly fee.

Can anyone make any recommendations?

Try Zoom. It’s got a free version that allows you to have a meeting for up to 40 minutes. If you need more than 40 minutes, you can just start a new meeting for another 40 minutes. You can video chat and share your screen.

Discord allows screen sharing, and all he’d need to have with him is a headset, unless he wants the kids to be able to see him.

We use Webex (looks like $13.50/mo for the least expensive option) at work; because of an outside partner sometimes have to use Skype, but it’s not nearly as good IMO. Both allow you to share your screen & use the computer or a separate phone for voice. I have a USB headset.

Might also want to look at remote controlling software so that Dad can take over their mouse if he needs to.

I use Skype a lot. It’s free and pretty easy to use.

Also, most laptops these days have a camera and microphone, so I’d check the laptops before going out and buying a separate one.

If you might need to switch from video call to screen sharing, Chrome Remote Desktop is free and works well. No file sharing, but connecting party can take over and both can see screen as connecting party drives.
Not as full featured, nearly as Go To Meeting or WebEx or LogMeIn but those are $$. Office 365 subscription might include Skype, it does for Business. Skype has remote control and video/audio. Not as easy to use as GTM or WebEx as Microsoft has requirement to kludge up anything it acquires and bundles, but it works and gives you more than Chrome Remote Desktop.

I’d recommend Skype if you are on Windows machines, especially if you already have Office. jdc is correct that Skype can be a royal pain in the ass if both parties don’t have Skype logins, but it’s pretty simple when you both have it installed.

For paid versions, I think Zoom is the best. I wasn’t aware of their free option, so you might check that out.

Thanks for the input, folks. This is good info.

TroutMan and jdc - I didn’t know that Skype could allow remote desktop viewing.

Yes, the screen sharing is simple and (mostly) works well - click the button and choose if you want to share one application, one monitor, or all monitors. It’s pretty standard across all products.

As for the “mostly”, one other thing I’ve noticed is that Skype seems to have some issues with scaling during screen-sharing if you have two monitors with different resolutions (I use both my laptop screen and an external monitor). You can work around it, but Zoom and GoToMeeting both handle it a little better.

Good to know. Thanks!