Five years ago, a video conversation with a friend or business colleague would have been a kludgy experience. Ten years ago, videoconferencing was an expensive proposition that required specialized hardware. But thanks to the prevalence of broadband and inexpensive Webcams, videoconferencing is becoming a reality in homes and businesses alike.
You probably already have all the software you need to start videoconferencing. "The broadest of all videoconferencing trends is that it is becoming a component within other kinds of often-used applications," says Gerry Kaufhold, principal analyst at In-Stat/MDR. Notably, popular instant-messaging clients like AOL Instant Messenger and MSN Messenger now support videoconferencing. Dedicated pay services are available as well, offering better quality and more features.
Were also seeing new products aimed at an even more mainstream audience. The D-Link i2eye DVC-1000 Broadband VideoPhone is a compact set-top device that includes a camera and microphone. It plugs directly into your home network and your television, allowing you to videoconference from your living room.
Here are two of our current favorites.
Sightspeed Video Messenger
Sightspeed delivers excellent video with very little latency, but lacks frills.
Click here to read PC Magazines full review of Sightspeed Video Messenger.
Although a bit pricey, viditel offers an excellent combination of features and quality for business users.
Click here to read PC Magazines full review of Viditel.