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Using A Web Cam To See Far Away Friends And Family

Mar 25, 2008
It seems like nearly everyone has friends or family members in faraway places. If you don't own a car even 20 miles could be far away I guess.

But how many of us who have friends and relatives far away are missing out because, thanks to broadband and webcams, we could see them any time we want to!

My sister her husband live in Arizona and just recently added a baby girl to their family. Since the rest of the family lives in Minnesota seeing this new baby girl could have been quite a challenge and very expensive in days gone by. With everyone's busy schedules and the price of gas going through the roof it's getting harder and harder to see the people we love.

Because of all the advances in digital communications I knew there had to be an inexpensive way to communicate with voice and video. And, if we needed a solution, I figured there were probably other people who might be looking for one as well.

So I set out to find a way for our families to be able to see the new baby and talk to each other. After checking out several web cameras and Internet video services I came up with an excellent combination that's inexpensive and works great!

First, I bought a Microsoft LifeCam VX-3000 webcam from Amazon. With a 4 out of 5 rating from over 200 reviews, and for only $35 it sounded like a great deal. As expected the webcam was simple to set up and has a great picture quality. It even has a built in microphone.

Next, I needed to find an online service that would allow us to both see and talk to each other. This particular webcam is optimized for use with Windows Live Messenger, and if you're into Instant Messaging it's very easy to see each other this way. But I decided to find a different route for family members who don't have this particular webcam.

After looking at several free and paid services I settled on http://SightSpeed.com and am glad I did. The service is free for personal use and it's easy to set up. Simply fill out a registration form online, download and install the software, and you're ready to call. Of course the other party will need to get a webcam and sign up for SightSpeed as well.

Last night we had our first video conference call using the VX-3000 webcam and SightSpeed and all I can say is WOW! For my $35 investment the call was priceless. The picture was so clear it was almost like we were in the same room.

The truth is, we all know someone that we don't get to see very often, a friend in another state or parents in another city. So if you have loved ones far away don't put this off. As long as both of you have a broadband connection, for less than $50 you could be seeing and talking to each other, almost like you were talking face to face...
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