Video Chats, The Next Best Thing to Being There
I have mixed feelings about video chat, I think it’s a great concept and a wonderful way to connect with family members you haven’t seen in a long time, but it can also be abused and can get some people in a lot of trouble.
I still remember my “whoops video moment.” I was getting ready for work when my boss jumped on Instant Messenger to chat because there was a problem in the office. As we worked through the details he makes a comment about my hair. That is when I realized my computer camera was on. I was so embarrassed my hair was a mess and kept thinking what could have happened, I was so glad to be already dressed that morning. Talk about an awkward moment. We laughed it off later in the day, but still it could have gone another way.
So I always have my reservation about video chatting, however now that my kids are older and my mom is more computer savvy we find ourselves using video chat as a way to communicate. Last December, we decided to stay home for the holidays so during the gift opening ceremonies we brought my laptop into the circle and turned on the camera so the entire family can watch the unveiling.
If you are ready to face the camera and have a great one-on-one or group chat with family, friends, and/or peers, the next thing you need to do is find the right software to do the job. Since most laptops come with built in web cameras we won’t discuss that here. But you can easily find one for $20 on amazon.com or any other electronics store.
Google Video Chat
Google Video Chat lets you video chat right from Gmail, iGoogle or Orkut. All you need is a webcam to get started. This is a web-based solution that can be used on both Windows and Mac OS X devices.
Skype is what I use when it comes to video and voice chatting. I’ve even used it to conduct interviews. This holiday season we had the family download Skype on their own computers so we could communicate in real-time and best of all we were able to do it for free. You can download Skype for Windows, Mac, Linux and you can also download it to most mobile devices.
iChat is another utility you can use to video chat but it can only used on the Mac OS. Since most Mac computers include a built-in iSight camera all you have to do is load up iChat and you can instantly chat with friends and family utilizing high-quality video and audio. iChat features a 3-demensional view, so it feels like everyone is in the room with you.
ooVoo is another popular choice when it comes to video chats. Once you download the software it’s very easy to set up. You will love being able to chat with up to 6 friends on different machines all at the same time. However going beyond 3-way video chat you will incur extra charges.
What tools do you use to video chat?