High-Definition Web Cameras - Razor Sharp ConferencingFinding a driverless Hi-Def web cam model compatible with both modern Windows PC and Apple Macintosh computers isn't nearly the challenge it used to be thanks to the growing UVC standard for USB 2.0 speed video devices. Microsoft Windows, Linux distros and Apple's OSX operating systems all include USB Video Class (UVC) device drivers in the core OS itself. So, many modern products which adhere to this UVC web camera standard are simply driver-free plug and play. It's important to note that 720p and particularly 1080p HD models also require FAST CPU's to efficiently handle the staggering amount of data each frame of high-res video demands.
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H.264 Video Compression BenefitsIdeally the HD webcam will also support H.264 hardware based video compression directly within the circuitry to compress the video data before it even heads down the USB cable to your computer. It's less CPU intensive, dramatically cuts the data bandwidth for live videoconferencing and/or significantly reduces the file size of video clips saved to your computer's hard drive. H.264 is a desirable feature to look for if you have high expectations, you'll generally find it on newer models and in premium videoconferencing products in the $75 to $200 USD range, not in low-end, cheap cameras.
Cross-Platform HD Skype Video Chat
Skype's high-quality and hi-def video chat requirements can be found here. Essentially you'll need: A Skype supported High-Def cam model capable of 720p resolution, a USB 2.0 or SuperSpeed USB 3.0 port, and a Dual-Core Intel CPU ideally beyond 2GHZ. (The faster the better!) You'll also want a fast broadband internet connection capable of upload speeds of 384 kpbs are needed minimally - but ideally, 3, 5 or 10MPBS at both ends.
Temper your expectations of achieving 15 to 30 FPS (Frames Per Second) of 720p HD resolution during a chat sessions. HD conferencing depends so much on the available internet bandwidth, CPU power and hardware used at each end! The quality of your session is constantly evaluated on the fly and resolution or frame rates may drop - or improve while you chat. It's very dynamic and calculated on the fly. You're literally trying to blast millions of pixels down a pipe. And the internet doesn't GUARANTEE your video frames (and audio) will get from point A to point B with any assured consistency - particularly if you're trying to chat across the globe and dozens of 'hops' from router to router are involved. These requirements can be demanding of the average system, but as the technology, bandwidth, and software advances - expect improvements on the forefront of bringing true and consistent HD video conferencing and online chat to the next level.