Skype version 4.0 has finally emerged from its lengthy beta test and is now available for PC users to download and enjoy high res full screen video calls, as well as a bunch more new features.

Skype told TechRadar last year that the focus for version 4.0 of its popular Voice Over Internet Protocol video and voice call services was on improving video and audio quality.

The company has certainly done that, with the full-screen video calling in the latest version being crystal clear (providing you have a decent, new-ish webcam, of course!).

Better sound and video

What else is new? You can kick off video calls directly, without having to make a voice call and then switch the call over to your webcams. A small point, perhaps, but one which is going to encourage more of Skype's users to use the 'full phat' version of the service, as opposed to using it mainly for instant messaging (and the odd intercontinental voice call).

Skype 4 features a new, improved audio codec that gives better quality sound while "using 50 per cent less bandwidth."

It also packs in a bandwidth manager which automatically also alters the video quality to ensure you get the best quality video calling to match your connection speed. Nifty!

Most of you out there will likely be using the minimum spec required for a decent 30fps video call – as Skype tells us that you only require a dual-core processor and 400Kbit/sec broadband connection to get the full monty videocalling experience.

We'll be sure to put the shiny new Skype 4.0 to test on a number of computers both new and old in the coming weeks to let you know how it stacks up.

Less cluttered

Finally, the latest version of Skype boasts a much-improved, far less cluttered single screen interface. If, like us, you've been using Skype for years, this may take you by surprise at first. Humans do, after all, fear change. However, we are glad to say that after around ten minutes of using it, we found that we had totally forgotten what the old interface used to look like.

Skype claims to have 405 million users worldwide. Although how many of those are active users and how many are 'sexy Russian Nina wanna chats?' we are not quite sure.

Which raises a thorny issue – little has been said on what has been done to improve security and anti-spamming features in the new version of Skype. TechRadar has fired off an email to the company's UK office to find out a little more on this, so stay tuned for further updates.

In the meantime, we're off to badger all our mates on Skype to upgrade to version 4.0