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Personal Videoconferencing - How To Choose The Best Camera For Your Needs

Aug 18, 2007
sYou have got your computer; you have got your headphones and your speakers. You found the perfect microphone and you have got your IP connection. Now all you need to videoconference is a camera. What kind of camera should you buy? The kind of camera will depend on the computer system you use and the kind of videoconferencing you want to achieve. First of all, your computer must be multimedia compatible.

Next, you will need to understand that cameras for videoconferencing come in a very wide range of price-performance-feature sets made to accommodate almost any need. There are high-end camera systems (designed for group videoconferencing systems) that sell for $30,000 and more and there are desktop cameras for as little as $30. For personal videoconferencing the focus of this article will be on the options available in desktop cameras and the most common desktop camera is the digital.

Digital cameras send a digital signal back, sometimes already compressed, to the videoconferencing host (usually your IP service) in a number of ways. They can connect to the PC through a small, inexpensive, readily available connector, they can be powered directly from the PC, eliminating the need for an external power pack, they can support software controlled image processing and their cost becomes more and more reasonable.
Nowadays a good Webcam can be purchased for well under a hundred dollars.

Digital cameras are available from numerous vendors like IBM, Logitech, Creative Technology; Philips and they often refer to a digital camera as a PC camera. You can use almost any PC with a USB port, a bi-directional sound card, and speakers for videoconferencing. (PC camera processor requirements usually hover around a 266MHz Pentium processor.) PC cameras usually come with drivers for Windows 2000, Windows Me, and Windows 98 and Windows XP.

If you are using price as a basis for decision when it comes to buying your camera keep this is mind, if it has a CMOS image sensor and a small collection of software that may be all you need and research shows almost every PC camera manufactured today holds Microsoft NetMeeting: Microsoft free conferencing product, which you can also download from Microsoft Web site. Cameras come bundled with a variety of creative applications for video email, snapshots, movie editing, and customized calendars (among other things), whether you need all this or not is your choice.

You can find cameras with a built-in microphone, which gives you more space at your workstation. There are PC cameras that can work serve as videoconferencing cameras then be removed to work as basic digital cameras for snapshot photography. A point in going for the more high-end camera, something in the $100-and-up bracket is the quality of glass lens. Higher-priced cameras usually offer multi-element glass lenses that provide a crisper image than the simpler lenses of a lower priced camera. Decide on how important your image is during personal videoconferencing. If the quality of the image is paramount to you then a higher-end camera is a must.

Consider the bundling options now. Would you like to send a copy of your videoconference to everyone involved? Then select a camera enabled for video mail. This is also a way to preserve a videoconference for both future reference and to present almost as a video presentation to those who could not be present. It is even more effective if your camera is equipped for movie editing. Then you can cut the spam and only preserve a quality videoconference presentation to be emailed to others or shown on a screen.

Your final decision will be if this camera remains hooked up to the computer and used only as a PC camera? Will your videoconferencing be more personal than professional? If so, then look for a Webcam. A Webcam is a usually inexpensive video camera, attached directly to the computer, which takes digital photographs and transmits them over the Internet or another network. Though not known to have the best image transmission amongst the choice of cameras, the technology increases every day, so when it comes to purchasing the camera for your personal videoconferencing check out the good old standby, the Webcam. Connect with the world.
About the Author
For several years now, Jason has been reviewing hundreds of online products and services. Many consider his reviews to be very insightful and reliable. Visit his website 1VideoConference.com
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