With the prices of video conference components and peripherals going down in recent years, more and more people are conferencing via video, particularly with webcams. And with the new Wainhouse Research Report maintaining that web and streamed video services will go up to as high as more than 80% in the coming years, you might as well know what video conferencing is all about.
Video conferencing on the desktop is the consumer version of those big and fancy video conference facilities used by big businesses. Unless you have a plush boardroom set up in your home maintain a dedicated high bandwidth data line, you may not get the same quality as the big boys do. But then again, maybe you don’t need that kind of video conferencing.
For most people, an on-screen window with passable video quality is enough for meeting with someone from either across town or across the globe. And all this for a price that is practically nothing compared to the benefits it brings.
Nowadays, if you are interested in getting a video call online set up for yourself, it could not be easier. The setup is actually simple: All you will need is at least two computers that are connected via the Internet or over a local area network or LAN.
Each computer would require the following components:
– sound card
– video conferencing software
For the first four items, you will simply need to browse through several computer supply stores or websites to buy them. The prices will vary with the added features. Take some time to research on what features you want and compare it with the price to see if you are getting your money’s worth.
When that is done, you will need to find a program that will allow you to start your own video conferencing experience. Here are some tips you can use to choose the software that is right for your needs.
As was mentioned before, desktop video conferencing may not be able to match hardware-based video conferencing as far as image quality is concerned. And in most cases, it actually is not all that necessary. But if you still want a decent picture of a decent size, you may want to invest slightly on software that you need to purchase as opposed to those you can get for free.
Video conferencing uses the Internet and given that, you could be susceptible to viruses, worm, or even hacker attacks on your system. Most video conferencing software will work within your computer’s existing protection system (anti-virus, firewall, adblocker. etc.). If the software cannot display and/or receive images, then there probably are security conflicts that need to be resolved. Consult with your computer and the software company’s technical support on security issues raised with the free video conferencing software you are considering.
Nowadays, simply seeing someone on a video screen does not quite cut it like it used to. A lot of video conferencing software allows more fun and useful features ranging from being able to transfer files with a single click to playing a game together online while chatting on video. Pretty cool stuff, isn’t it?
Let’s face it, this is by far THE deciding factor for most people. And you should not be ashamed of admitting so. Just looking at the number of free (yes, FREE) web conference software out there and you’ll know that you are not alone.
In fact, some of the most popular Free Software for Video Conferencing around is distributed such as Microsoft’s NetMeeting, AOL Instant Messenger, Apple iChat, or Yahoo Messenger. Quality and range of options may not necessarily be trade-offs as well as these can offer satisfactory video quality and added features.
If you are willing to spend on video conference software, there are a number of excellent ones as well. The prices for this software range anywhere from $5 to $500 (and even higher for enterprise-level software) with differences in features much too complex to be discussed in detail in this article.
Safe to say, however, is that if you are a home user who simply wishes to keep in touch (and sight) of friends and loved ones, spending something like $15 to $20 will more than pay for itself.
When finally making the decision on what video conference software to buy, keep in mind your basic communication needs (both visual and aural) as well as the features you feel you will use regularly. Compare the paid and free online meeting software against your requirements and weigh the pros and cons. Eventually, you will find the right video conference software for you.