Web Cams and Video Conferencing

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Web Cams and Video Conferencing

Today web cams are built into almost any device that uses the internet or cell phone technology.

When you want to talk to someone in a different city or even country you pick up the phone and dial a phone number (that costs money).

Back in the early 1960's there was a scientific magazine that predicted technological advances; one of the articles was about a pic-to-phone or a vid-phone. A phone with a tv screen and tv camera that would allow you to see the person you were talking to. Cool!

Unfortunately it will take over forty years to realize a real low cost way to make a video phone call.

Video conferencing has been available for sometime, in the late 1990's it came to the computer world, however it was very expensive, low quality, and slow response time for the video output.

Today you can make a video phone call with your computer and a peripheral called a Web Cam (in some cases free!).

This feature now comes built in on most Notebooks and tablets, nice...

This device has a Digital Camera and some with a microphone built in.

The quality of the image is controlled by the quality of the camera, the connect speed of your internet connection and the resolution of the receiving software.

This review is for two different Web Cams, one is about nine years old and the other one is two years old.

The Creative WebCam Live! Ultra (purchased in 2005)

Specifications:Creative Web Cams Live! Ultra

  • Video Resolution
    • Up to 640 x 480 pixels
  • Picture Resolution - Still mode
    • Up to 640 x 480 pixels

    • 1280 x 960 pixels with software enhancement within Creative WebCam Center
  • Video formats
    • RGB24

    • I420
  • USB 1.1 or 2.o
    • Power from USB connection
  • Exposure control
    • Automatic
  • White balance
    • Automatic
  • Field-of-view
    • 76 degrees +/- 5% (diagonal)
  • Focus range
    • 15 centimeters (6 inches) to infinity
  • Sound
    • Built in microphone

The Logitech WebCam Pr0 9000 (purchased in 2012)

Specifications:Logitech Web Cams Pr0 9000

  • Video Resolution
    • Up to 1600 X 1200
  • Picture Resolution - Still mode
    • Up to 720 pixel widescreen mode
    • 1600 X 1200 pixels
  • Video formats
    • Native 2-MP HD sensor
    • Up to 30-frames-per-second video
  • USB 2.o
    • Power from USB connection
  • Exposure control
    • Carl Zeiss' optics with autofocus
  • Sound
    • Microphone with Logitech "RightSound" technology
  • Still images
    • Up to 8-megapixel photos (enhanced from native 2 MP sensor)

I tested these two WebCams through Skype.

The test -

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Call my laptop from my desktop through Skype. The connect speed is 7MBPS (Mega Bits Per Second). Both accounts go out the same router then return. This is not an optimum test such as calling from one country to another but a good test of the Skype servers and my network connection to those servers (free call). The resolution and quality are the best for the technology of the time.

Creative Live! Ultra

The older Creative video device (connected to the laptop) lighting is yellowish and the focus is very fuzzy. The camera is about 3 feet from the subject. The video would break up if I moved around in the frame.

Logitech Pr0 9000

While this video device (connected to the desktop) was five feet away from me the resolution is quite good and when I moved around in the frame the video did not break up.

Creative WebCam still image -

Creative WebCam still image 160x120 pixels

You can see the Desktop monitor in the image it is hard to discern the Skype application on the screen.

Logitech WebCam still image -

 

You can see the laptop video in the image with the Skype application running.

Logitech WebCam still image 320x240 pixelsThe Creative camera still image resolution is 160 x 120 pixels where as the Logitech resolution is 320 x 240 pixels. The focus for the Creative is not as sharp as the Logitech. Increasing the image size with the Creative web cam to 320 x 240 makes the image very fuzzy. How ever increasing the image size of the Logitech web cam to 640 x 480 it is still sharp (and my office is a mess...)

As with any technological advance the newer product will be cheaper and the quality of the data will be higher. The Creative WebCam Live cost a little under $150 in 2005. The Logitech 9000 cost $89 in 2012.

If you only need to view an area for security reasons then an older web cam off of eBay or a local yard sale will work just fine but if you want to do Video Calls and or Conferencing then you will want to have a higher quality camera.

One of the great things about the internet is a phone call from Arizona, USA to Wales, UK with video is still free! Cool!

Note:

I used Skype over Yahoo! because the Skype software works through a firewall (port 80) vs five to twenty ports that Yahoo! requires to connect, transmit, and receive video and sound. You can read about using Skype and video cameras here.

 



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