Video Conferencing Hardware and You

by Mark Walters

If you are new to the game there is some video conferencing hardware to consider.

Gone are the days when you had to fly across the country and drain your company's expense account just to attend a two-hour meeting. Now, all you have to do is turn on your computer and you're ready to go.

But if you are new to the world of video conferencing online, it may not be that easy. You might not have any idea of the different video conferencing hardware components that you will need to get started. To make things even more difficult, a quick Internet search for the phrase "video conferencing camera" brings up more than 42,000 entries. Yikes!

In the interest of protecting your sanity and boosting your status in the eyes of your boss, we've provided a brief list of the basic pieces of equipment you'll need to get conferencing and good places to buy them:

Personal Computer Most offices these days are equipped with personal computers (PC). These temperamental creatures are a necessary evil to keep your business organized and competitive in the twenty-first century market. A PC is also completely essential to video conferencing, as your computer hooks up with other computers so that you can conduct your meetings online.

Modem Whether DSL or dial-up, most offices these days are connected to the Internet. The web is a valuable tool in business today and almost everyone has a website - even your neighbor's dog. Internet connection is a must for online conferencing, as you actually have to be online for this type of conferencing. Dial-up services will work for video conferencing online, but your images will be less clear. ISDN connections work best as they provide the fastest connection speeds and clearest pictures.

Camera A video conferencing camera is an important piece of hardware as it enables you to talk face to face to your colleague or customer across the country. Without them, you're just audio conferencing. Prices for video conferencing cameras range from a basic IBM model going for $40 to a snazzier PolyCom model that runs about $499. Logitech sells a model specially designed for laptops or notebooks.

Cables and Stuff You will need a USB cable to convert the images that your camera records to a format that your computer can understand. USB Gear provides several different types of equipment that take up minimal space on your PC and will get the job done.

Microphone Unless you want your video conference to become just a visual conference, some type of microphone is necessary for each participant to communicate with the others. Wideband Solutions sells different microphones designed to cover both small and large boardrooms. If you just need a microphone to cover you and your desk, Phoniex Audio sells a microphone that will do the job.

Headset While not completely necessary, a headset is a convenient piece of equipment for any savvy video conferencer. Imagine trying to crunch some numbers on a spreadsheet and carry on a conversation about your budget with a phone awkwardly cradled in the crook of your shoulder, while your boss looks on from 300 miles away. Not exactly the put-together professional image you want to convey.

Time to Shop! Ebay and Amazon are good spots to go for used equipment, but buyer beware - you never know what condition it might reach you in. Always be sure to use reputable sellers with good customer ratings. PolyCom is well known in the industry and sells top-of-the line equipment. You can also try NexTag. This site that provides a search of the best prices on whatever electronic equipment you specify.

About the Author

Mark Walters manages and suggest you learn how to choose a Internet Webcam here.

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