Skype has a hard-earned reputation for handling Internet telephone calls with style – simple interface, great voice quality. Installing the software is a snap. Calling another Skype user anywhere in the world is free; it’s relatively cheap to add the ability to call conventional phones and mobile phones and to receive calls at a real phone number that connects to your Skype software, but it also adds a bit of complexity to the setup.

Most people only need a microphone to begin using Skype. Some people prefer to use a headset with a microphone instead of having the sound come out of the speakers. I chose the Logitech Premium USB Headset 350 recently after looking through the choices.

Skype makes it very easy to add video to conversations. The Logitech Quickcam Fusion is the current webcam leader. It is particularly well-suited for Skype; its built-in microphone avoids echoes and feedback more effectively than cheaper competitors. It comes with a headset that might never be necessary. Skype can be set up to start the webcam automatically when a call is started; picture and sound quality are outstanding.

To be fair, the instant messaging programs also support voice chat and video, but they are more likely to have features aimed at the under-25 set – cute little icons and games and advertising. Skype is blissfully simple, well-suited to business use.