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Web Cam Help and Advice Needed

nousername

Standard Member
Hi y'all,

I am soon to start a new job that takes me away from home a lot, both home (UK) and abroad (mainly Eastern Europe).

I am looking for alternative ways other than a telephone to stay in touch with my wife. As such, I want to buy a web cam and its associated technology to have, what I hope you can have, real-time audio and video conversations. Is this at all possible with web cams?

If what I am asking is possible, I would appreciate if somebody could provide me with a list of hardware and software needed to do this. This list would also need to include an ideal laptop/computer for my wife and a laptop for me.

I currently own an Advent 4211C notebook with a built in web cam but doubt very much that I or my wife could use this. Please advise if I am wrong.

Many thanks in advance for any response.
 

Iccz

Distinguished Member
Hi,

A webcam is a webcam - it will be able to do the minimum of capture a video stream - the difference in various webcams is that some are better quality - in the sense they have higher resolution videos or pictures you can also get some that handle higher FPS rates, as for audio a lot of laptops will come with built in microphones usually near the screen.

The netbook you have (Advent 4211C) is basically a rebranded MSI Wind which I've used before, they have built in a webcam with a microphone, this would be fine for what you need.

The software for doing such, you could use something free such as MSN Messenger or Skype which allows you to do both video with audio or you can type to chat too both are free and all you need is a fairly stable internet connection as you're sending video and audio over it.

The only hardware you need apart from the computer running your Operating System is the webcam and microphone, any laptop with a webcam built in will, as a rule, have a microphone to go with it, however you might want to test beforehand how good you find the microphone and speakers on your laptop.

If you have another PC at home for your wife and do not have a webcam forr that yet, you should be able to get one for quite cheap with a built in microphone that will do the job, if you have 2 laptops and one doesn't have a cam built in you have 2 options you can buy a free-standing webcam - like you'd use for a desktop PC, or you can buy a laptop one which clips to the top of your laptop screen.

Any more questions feel free to ask, hope this helps :thumbsup:
 

nousername

Standard Member
Hi,

A webcam is a webcam - it will be able to do the minimum of capture a video stream - the difference in various webcams is that some are better quality - in the sense they have higher resolution videos or pictures you can also get some that handle higher FPS rates, as for audio a lot of laptops will come with built in microphones usually near the screen.

The netbook you have (Advent 4211C) is basically a rebranded MSI Wind which I've used before, they have built in a webcam with a microphone, this would be fine for what you need.

The software for doing such, you could use something free such as MSN Messenger or Skype which allows you to do both video with audio or you can type to chat too both are free and all you need is a fairly stable internet connection as you're sending video and audio over it.

The only hardware you need apart from the computer running your Operating System is the webcam and microphone, any laptop with a webcam built in will, as a rule, have a microphone to go with it, however you might want to test beforehand how good you find the microphone and speakers on your laptop.

If you have another PC at home for your wife and do not have a webcam forr that yet, you should be able to get one for quite cheap with a built in microphone that will do the job, if you have 2 laptops and one doesn't have a cam built in you have 2 options you can buy a free-standing webcam - like you'd use for a desktop PC, or you can buy a laptop one which clips to the top of your laptop screen.

Any more questions feel free to ask, hope this helps :thumbsup:

Hi Iccz,

Many thanks for the very quick response.

Does the internet connection matter greatly when using a web cam. I envisage being sat in a hotel room using the hotels wireless connection while my wife will obviously be using a wired broadband connection.

I have used my Advent 4211C once before to have a web chat, but with very disappointing results. Couldn't hear the other person so was having to type my conversation and the so called video was just an image that refreshed itself every minute or so. This could hardly be called a video conversation. Could it have been because I was using a 'dongle'?

I have seen on TV people having real-time audio and video conversations with amazing clarity. I want to be able to do this. Is all that you have mentioned enough to do this?

Once gain, many thanks for any response.
 

Iccz

Distinguished Member
I often manage to do webcam chats via my netbook from hotels in this country and abroad (France mostly), the problem with netbooks is they have poor speakers, I had to have volumes right up in Windows and the application and ask the person on the other side to up the gain on their microphone (can be done inside MSN messenger if you use that, or can be done in Windows volume properties).

What connection speed does the dongle get, I've never had to use one myself so I'm not sure how fast they are, but I know it depends on the signal.

Amazing clarity streams will use more bandwidth so require a faster connection, chances are you'll not really be able to do this on a hotel connection, you'll be going for a lowish resolution stream of 640x480 tops, anything higher will not really work too well.

You should be able to get acceptable audio and video form your laptop, but not the kind you see in movies, to get that you will be looking at a £50+ camera and a stable internet connection that gives a solid speed.

To get an average stream then yes all you need is a computer with webcam/mic and internet connection, it's not so demanding.
 

nousername

Standard Member
The Dongles speed comes up as 3.6 Mbps. However, as you have mentioned, this all depends on its signal strength and when it's slow its frustratingly slow! Once I begin this job, I will invest in a phone line and proper broadband connection for the wife to use. This leaves just me to find an internet connection as I do not think my dongle will work abroad - so hotel's wireless internet connection it will be then.

Given that I do have a connection speed of 3.6 Mbps, I cannot understand why my first and only attempt at a video call went so badly. Maybe it was a problem at the recipient's end as she was as clueless as I was.

So in a nutshell, I need a good internet connection and a half decent web cam..nothing more, nothing less? Also, you have mentioned Messenger, Skype, etc. Do you have a preference or further advice on these instant messenger service providers?

Really appreciating the advice, please keep it coming.
 

Iccz

Distinguished Member
Personally I have no experience with Skype but it is a very popular client with many, especially those who like to use webcams etc - but as I've never used it I can't shed any light on this.
I use MSN because I've been using this for years now and a lot of people I know use this.

The both do the same thing in theory so you just need to see which you and your wife prefer, the software will be down to personal preference.

Here at home I have a connection speed of less than 1mbit as I live in a village a long way away from the exchange, I get about 60-70kb/s download speeds and can often run webcam flawlessly, and as mentioned I use the webcam built in to my EEEPC (also a netbook similar to yours).
 

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