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The TOTEM Poll: Totally Off Topic, Everything Media
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Old April 18th, 2005, 10:48 AM   #1
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A Mac person actually asking you PC-types for advice (the shame of it all)

For a Mac person to videochat you only have to:

a. Go to the nearest Mac store or online Mac store
b. Buy an iSight
c. Plug it in

That's it. No other considerations. Some of my friends, though (lowly PC-types) are wanting to start videochatting and they asked me to help them pick out a camera and headset/mic setup.

And therein lies the problem. I'm totally lost when looking through the tons of options for PCs and all of them needing this driver or that system or...blah blah blah.

So, if you'll allow me to call a truce between the usual Mac vs. PC battle, could any of you suggest a good, fast, clear IEEE 1394 or USB webcam and headset/mic setup for PC-beings? Whatever is the most "plug and play".
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Old April 18th, 2005, 11:33 AM   #2
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Well John, if they have Windows XP, it's very easy. Assuming they have broadband (or forget about it for video) just about any usb based video camera will work. Logitech seems to be a favorite and several models are available under 100.00 at places like CompUSA and BestBuy. (Don't bother buying an extended warranty, Logitech cams don't need them).

Install the camera. With WindowsXP it should be very very easy. The cam may come with a version of one of the popular instant messaging systems plus other 'free' software they may or may not want to install.


Now, go online and download either Yahoo messenger, AOL IM or MSN instant messenger. My fav is Yahoo, great features and harder for Hackers to break into. I am not a fan of MSN messenger since it seems to be the target of various adware/spam campaigns. You get pop ups even when it's not being used.


All are free. I don't think you need a Yahoo acct for Yahoo, but if you do, it's free and gives you a gig of storage (thank you google). AOL just wants you to fill in lots of personal info, even if you don't have an acct with them.

Yahoo communicate with several different IMs, AOL usually does not, MSN Messenger is getting better at that part. MSN offers the ability to set up an MS Passport for secure log ins and other on line transactions. They no longer require you to have a hotmail acct. If you choose MSN, I recomend downloading the free version of ZoneAlarm for additional protection. In fact I recomend that for any IM they install.

My prefs
Yahoo
MSN
AOL
plus ZoneAlarm firewall or use the built in one with XP.

With XP, they are all plug and play with the camera, mic and text messaging, sort of Mac like as far as setting up.

Welcome to the Dark Side, hehehe.
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Old April 18th, 2005, 11:37 AM   #3
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For a mic, most pc's have built in sound cards with output/input support. A simple cheap PC mic should suffice for audio. Any type of Headphones with a 1/8 inch connector will do. If they have speakers, then they can listen through them.
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Old April 18th, 2005, 12:59 PM   #4
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bottom line is just pick one. My still camera has an option to plug it into USB and use it as a webcam. Likewise any headphone or mic that has 1/8" plug will work, so will built ins or existing speakers. So he may already have the equipment on hand.
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Old April 18th, 2005, 01:05 PM   #5
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AOL Instant Messenger is compatible with the Mac's iChat--and runs really smoothly, if you have good broadband connection and a fast enough computer.

I would suggest the PC guys get a USB 2.0 port for their webcam.

If they already have a DV camcorder--one can easily use that to chat with...just have to select a the firewire DV cam in the AOL settings for chat.
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Old April 18th, 2005, 10:52 PM   #6
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John,I'm surprised you didn't recomend a Mac mini. Very cool piece of kit that works with Wintel based peripherals (keyboard, mice, display....). I'm recomending one for my Mother in Law (very nice woman whos been stuck with Web TV all these years).
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Old April 18th, 2005, 11:00 PM   #7
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Thanks, everyone. So there really aren't any standout models, eh? I guess webcams and computer mics aren't really designed to be hi-fidelity. I'll toss a coin, I guess.

I was thinking though that it would probably be best for them to get an IEEE 1394 version so that they could view uncompressed 30fps. Basically, they want it to look as good as it does with iChat on a Mac, and let me tell you, it looks GOOD in iChat.

I have to say, it's pretty comforting to walk into an Apple store and to see an entire wall of iSight boxes stacked up. You don't exactly have to wonder "Hmm...wonder if this one is any good." Now I know why I'm a Mac user... the unlimited variety of options on a PC would send me over the edge. ;)

Thanks!

P.S. Joe and John... thanks for the detailed info about different chat services. I planned on hooking them up with AIM since that's the only one that, as John says, can communicate with Macs.
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Old April 19th, 2005, 05:25 AM   #8
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John: I would *NOT* get a firewire webcam. If they even exist for the PC.
Go with an USB one. It is good enough for the PC. If you want a good quality
one (Logitech makes good ones indeed) go with the model that says 640x480
@ 30 fps (although you really want to go with 15 fps over the internet IMHO!)

Firewire is much less supported on the PC than it is on the Mac, on top of that
still a lot of PC's *DO NOT* come with a firewire port! They all have USB
however!

Stick with that.
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