Podcasts are digital media files (most often audio, but they can be video as well), which are produced in a series. You can subscribe to a series of files, or podcast, by using a piece of software called a podcatcher. Once you subscribe, your podcatcher periodically checks to see if any new files have been published, and if so, automatically downloads them onto your computer or portable music player for you to listen to or watch, whenever you wish.
It’s a safe bet that if you have a PC that runs Windows XP (without crawling like a tortoise), then you can use it for podcasting. You might be able to get by with older computers or operating systems, but it might be slow and difficult.
If you do have an older computer (or a basic entry-level computer) and you want to upgrade it a bit for podcasting, then the best thing you can do is add memory. I am not talking about hard drive space (although that helps as well). I am talking about RAM.
More RAM will make your computer operate faster when recording and processing audio. Upgrading to 512 MB or more of RAM will make a noticeable difference.
You will need at least 2-3 gigabytes of free hard drive space to save your audio files to. If you plan to archive the audio without compressing it to MP3, then you will want to have several gigabytes available.
The final thing you need on your PC is a sound card and a line in and line out. These jacks may also be labeled “mic” (in) and “headphones” (out). Most PCs and laptops have a built-in sound card and in/out jacks.
If you need to purchase a sound card for your PC, I recommend the Creative Soundblaster Audigy 4.
A cheaper option is the Griffin iMic. This is an audio device that connects by USB. It adds a mic input and a headphone jack to your computer and is very inexpensive. I have used it with my podcasting gear and it works well.
Minimum requirements for podcasting with a PC:
- Running Windows XP
- 512 MB of RAM
- At least 2-3 GB of Hard Drive Space
- In/Out or Mic/Headphone Jacks
Here's a list of the basic podcasting gear you need to get started:
- A PC Running Windows XP or a Mac Running OS 9 or X
- 512 MB of RAM
- 2-3 GB of Free Hard Drive Space
- Mic Input and Headphone Output on Your Computer
- Headphones or Headset
- Optional: MP3 Player
- Optional: Pop Filter