The Hardware You'll Need
As I've mentioned before, it's easiest to use your mobile computer as a telephone if you equip it with a microphone and headset. You don't have to do this: If your mobile computer comes with an internal microphone and a speaker, you can just use these. The downside is that everyone around you will hear both sides of your conversation. And the audio quality of your phone conversations might not be as good as with a dedicated headset and microphone. For one thing, background noises won't be screened out.
Most mobile computers are equipped with two connection jacksone for a microphone and one for a headphones. If you look at your laptop, you'll likely find the microphone jack marked with an appropriate icon and the headset jack also marked as in Figure 6.2. (The microphone jack is usually color-coded red, and the headset jack is color-coded green.)
Figure 6.2. Your mobile computer provides jacks for a microphone and a headset.
Your best bet is to probably buy an integrated headset microphone unit. These headset and microphone combos provide two plugsone goes in the headset jack and the other into the microphone jack. They are primarily intended for telephony use with your mobile computer, although they work well for other applications, such as gaming and voice recognition. Headsets with microphones that fit in the jacks provided by the computer are called analog headsets and should cost between $25 and $50 for a good set.
You can also buy so-called digital headsets, which connect to your mobile computer's USB port and provide their own digital signal processing. Because these headsets do their own digital signal processing, they do not use the sound capabilities of your computera good thing if there is no sound hardware that comes with your computer, or if is just plain lousy.
Digital headsets cost a bit more than analog headsets, from about $50 to $150 depending on the make and model, but they probably deliver better quality.
A good place to buy either an analog or a digital headset, if you don't already have one, is http://www.headsets.com. Figure 6.3 shows the Headsets.com overview page for computer headsets.
Figure 6.3. You can buy digital or analog headsets for your computer at Headsets.com.