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Joining the Hi-Tech Communication Bandwagon: How To Choose Video Conference Equipment

It’s a small world after all. What was once just a catchy tune that kids (and even grownups) sing and dance to after visits to any Disney theme park, is now becoming a reality. Of course the planet is not decreasing in size, however the people living on it are shrinking the gaps among each other through the quickly progressing communication technology as observed today. The invention of the telephone was indeed a great milestone in human history, but now it seems a far cry from what people use to talk to each other today. Reaching out to practically any place in the world is now very easy with the help of computers, the internet, plus the hundreds of gadgets that seem to pop out every minute.

Perhaps the most amazing gift that technology has brought to people is video conferencing. Before, the ability to see people while talking to them on the phone was just a dream seen in sci-fi books and movies. It may have existed before, but its use was only limited to rich businessmen who could afford the technical wizardry required for video conference to be possible. Nowadays, video conferencing is very cheap and easily acquired. However not too many people have joined the video conferencing bandwagon as most do not know what to look for when setting up a system. A lot of people do not know how to choose video conference equipment. In reality, it is easy to choose web conference equipment with some basic know-how.

Setting up a video conference is not at all complex. Of course you have to have the basic stuff like a computer with multimedia function and an Internet connection. Aside from those, one needs certain equipment to hear people, to talk to them, to see them and then for you to be seen at the same time, after all, what is video conferencing about apart from communicating with others while seeing each other. Finally, there should be an equipment to put together everything.

Computers bought within the past three years are more probably ready for video conferencing. Something older might still work, but more likely not as efficiently as the new ones. For the internet connection, it should have at the very least a speed of 56 kbps. However that is already quite slow for video conferencing, what is recommended is a high-speed connection of about 512 kbps, which can be achieved with broadband connections like cable, DSL, and most especially T1.

The next very important component would be the audio conferencing phone. Internet phones can come cheaply, you may choose to get one that is compatible with different kinds of software or one that is dedicated to a particular program. The former is quite cheap but might not be very reliable, the former could be quite expensive but offers more stability. Internet phones are also called Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) phones. During video conferencing, earphones and microphones may come in handy as it would be quite tiring to hold a handset throughout the conversation.

With the internet phone, you can actually begin talking to your friends over the internet, but you will not be able to see them. To do this, you need a video camera. There are many web camera (web cams for short) in the market, but it is best to get the ones with the highest resolution and frames per second to ensure clarity of the video. While some video handycams can be used as web cams, it is still best to use a camera that is made especially for video conferencing because it would be easier to connect to your system.

Finally, to put all these things together, you need an integrating software. There are many video conferencing programs out there, the most popular ones are Microsoft NetMeeting and GnomeMeeting. Other web conference software have their own sets of special features and it is best to review them before deciding which one to use. Anyway, a lot of such programs are downloadable for free, and it may be a good idea to try each one and see what works best with you.

When starting a web conference system it is good to consult friends who are already using the technology. You can also learn from the many computer magazines, which usually discuss the subject matter.

It is very easy to choose web conference equipment if you know what you need. With video conferencing the world becomes smaller and people are getting closer.


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