Got a computer with a webcam and an Internet connection? You can be using Skype within minutes.

Image courtesy of Skype

Skype Requirements

Before you get started, you'll need to make sure that you have everything required to Skype. First, how do you plan to use the service? If you want to Skype using your PC or Mac desktop or laptop computer, your machine will need the latest version of its operating system: Windows, Linux or Mac OS.

You can also use Skype on your cell phone or TV, depending on the model. Apple products like iPhones, iPads and iTouches all have the ability to run Skype. Some cell phones running Android, as well as some models offered by Verizon Wireless (including Blackberrys, Android smartphones and other 3G phones), can run a special program called Skype mobile. You'll need to check your phone using the list on Skype.com, as well as with your provider, to find out for sure. Take a look at the list of Panasonic plasma and Samsung LED TVs on the Web site as well.

If you just want to make voice calls with Skype, you're set. However, if your computer doesn't have a built-in webcam, that's next on the list. You can get inexpensive models, but the more you spend, the better your video quality will be. If you're going to Skype using your TV, you'll need to buy a special webcam compatible with it. Most webcams have audio, so that shouldn't be a problem.

Finally, an Internet connection is a must (unless you're using your phone), and dial-up users need not apply -- it must be high-speed. If you want to make calls to someone without Skype, it's necessary to set up a Skype Credit account using a credit card or PayPal (more on this later). All set with your components? Next, we'll look at how to set up a Skype account.