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Choosing the right Web cam

Created date

January 25th, 2011

Staying in touch over the phone is great, but if you d like to see the person on the other end, and you have a computer, a Web camera is a great way to see and hear who you are talking to. Many newer Web cams have a microphone built in, and if you have a laptop, you might even have a Camera built into your display. If you don t have one already built in, or if you are using a desktop computer, you ll want to purchase a USB Web cam. There are many different products from Creative and Logitech as well as others to consider. Here are few guidelines to keep in mind before you begin shopping.

Basic design

Some Web cameras are made to clip onto your computer monitor, while others are meant to sit on your desk. Be sure to find a camera that can angle so you can move it around to fit your needs.

USB interface

Many newer Web cameras are USB 2.0 and are capable of capturing more frames per second, giving you a higher quality signal. If you have an older computer, however, you ll want to make sure your USB port is a USB 2.0 port and not a standard USB 1.1 port. Depending on compatibility, the camera might still work, but the image on the screen might appear choppy or out of sync with the dialogue.

Quality and performance

Web cameras are available in both standard and high-definition (HD) resolutions that are crystal clear. If you are considering an HD camera, be sure to check the minimum requirements listed on the side of the box or on the manufacturer s website. Many older computers do not have the memory (RAM), graphics card, or processing power to handle HD signals.

Operating system

If you have a Mac, you ll want to confirm that the camera you are purchasing is compatible with the Mac operating system. If you have an older Windows computer, you ll want to check which version of the operating system you are running and confirm that the Web cam is compatible. Most cameras available for purchase today are compatible with Windows 7 or Windows Vista. If you are still running Windows XP on your computer, you ll want to read the compatibility requirements to confirm that Windows XP is supported. If the proper operating system drivers are not available for the product you are purchasing, chances are that it will not work properly or at all.

Software

The included CD may contain software for the camera. Free software is available online, such as Skype and Windows Live Messenger. Sometimes this software can offer additional features like video e-mail messages, special effects, video editing, capturing of video to a saved file, or surveillance footage that records when you are not at home.

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