Techie explains web cams

Thursday, January 10th 2008, 7:38 pm
By: News 9

By Joel Craig, NEWS 9 Contributor

Could 1964 have finally arrived?

The videophone we were promised by the old AT&T at the New York World's Fair more than 40 years ago is finally reality.

 It comes in the form now of a webcam.

Whether a webcam came as part of your new laptop or you were given one as a gift or maybe you're looking to buy one, there's a few things to know.

Just like digital cameras webcams are known either their pixel count or resolution.  So you could see 300K pixels or 640 X 480.  Common pixel numbers are 100K, 300K and 1.3 mega-pixel.  In the world of electronics the K represents thousands.  So 100K is 100-thousand.

While the bigger number does produce a better picture there can be a bit of smoke and mirrors going on.

Some webcams will tell you they are 640 X 480, or 300K but they use software to enhance the picture to simulate the 300K quality or you may see 1.3 mega-pixel interpolated which means the camera is inserting the needed pixels either by looking at the picture and "assuming" the missing information or it might use several images to make-up one image.

Read the package carefully so you know what you're buying.  Many webcams will say something like "true 1.3meg" to let you know the camera has a real 1.3meg sensor.

OK you've got a webcam and you want to talk to someone and see them.  Once the webcam is connected, and that's pretty simple, just use one of the free services.  You can use A I M, Microsoft messenger, Yahoo messenger but I like Skype.

Just like the others it's free, really simple to use and the choice of most businesses.  All computer to computer communication whether video or just using the service like a telephone is free to or from anywhere in the world!

You can even use it to make phone calls from your computer to a regular or cell phone anywhere and on the cheap.  A call from the USA to Hong Kong, London or Jerusalem is only 2.1 cents a minute.

From really cheap to free your computer, a headset and a webcam can bring you into the 21st century of communications.