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Choosing a Webcam For Instant Messaging

Jul 13, 2008
These days there are literally hundred of webcam's available from many manufacturers and choosing a web cam can be time consuming and confusing for shoppers. The most common use of web cams is in the Instant Messaging market and applications such as Windows Messenger, Yahoo Instant Messenger and Skype allow people from all over the world to communicate easily and cheaply. This aim of this article is to highlight a few features you should look out for when purchasing a webcam for instant messaging.

Quality. Quality of a webcam is determined by the type of sensor and many webcam's now use CCD technology as found in many Digital Cameras. Low end and Early web cams use CMOS sensors which offer lower quality so it is important to choose a webcam that offers a good enough resolution to deliver clear crisp images and smooth video. For instant messaging, the resolution the image sensor does not need to produce high resolution images as the video is usually displayed as a small video window within the instant messaging software. Therefore a webcam that offers 1.3 mega pixel resolution should be more than adequate for delivering quality video and also decent snapshots if required.

Simplicity. Almost all of the webcams available today require a USB connection to the computer so it is important to check your PC or Laptop has this connector available. You will also want to find a Webcam from a reputable manufacturer some of which include Logitech, Microsoft, Labtec, Saitek, Hauppauge and Axis as they will offer simple and well tested software installations which should work with little or no configuration of your Instant Messaging software. Also check that your webcam has a usable stand or connector to enable you to attach the device at a suitable position - monitor mounted webcams are often the best choice as they offer the best position and distance to capture a persons face for instant messaging. Many webcams display the logos of the relevant instant messaging manufacturer on the packaging so its worth checking if your client is supported.

Price. The price of webcams do vary considerably and you can pay anywhere from ten to hundreds of dollars for a webcam. For instant messaging a mid range webcam should not only provide the best quality but also offer a good level of support and compatibility. Some webcams offer face tracking and zooming technology and if you want these features you will have to pay slightly more but this does make day to day use of the webcam a little easier as it will not require as much repositioning. Also check that the webcam has at least a 2 year warranty.

For a webcam that will offer all of the above a 1.3 mega+pixel webcam from Logitech or Microsoft will be the top recommendation and will support Skype and all of the other common Instant Messaging clients. In the current market the Logitech Sphere, or Microsoft Life Cam will be more than suitable. You will expect to pay around $50 for a webcam of this specification from one of the main manufacturers.
About the Author
Darren Dobson owns Forget The Rest an Internet Retailer.
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