With free video services like MSN and Skype, you’re missing out if you don’t have a webcam.
Speaking to friends and family for free using your broadband connection is one thing, but why not take advantage of the fact that you can also see them for free if you buy a webcam?
Being able to chat face-to-face is nearly always better than talking over the phone, as facial expressions and gestures add nuances to your conversation – studies have shown that up to 94 percent of communication is non-verbal.
Webcams aren’t a new idea, but the quality over a dial-up connection was so bad it doesn’t bear thinking about. And while many readers have had broadband for ages, chances are that the people you’d want video calls with are only just getting onboard.
Video calls are a surprisingly good substitute for visiting friends in person, so when that isn’t possible – because you’re too busy or they live on another continent – you can still feel like you’re there simply by hooking up your webcam. Thanks to free services like Skype 2 and MSN Messenger, the only cost will be the webcam itself, and you can pick one up for as little as $32, which won’t exactly break the bank.
Webcams don’t have to be exclusively for social calls either. With so many people telecommuting or travelling for work, webcams offer a great way to conduct business calls. You can also join remote meetings with conference-calling software.
Alternatively, you can use them as a basic security device, capturing video whenever motion is detected. Or, you can simply have a bit of fun with the many games available that put you in the action.
There are several factors you should consider when choosing a webcam: image quality (which varies widely), the field of view (some are wider than others) and features. The latter means mounting brackets, plus the inclusion and quality of any bundled microphones and software.
Fortunately, we’ve done all the hard work, so read on to find out which one you should buy.
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This Group Test appeared in the October, 2006 issue of PC & Tech Authority Magazine