Buy A Webcam
If you haven't already bought a webcam, you'll need to do so before we get started. I recently bought a no frills webcam called the QuickCam Connect E2500 on sale for $15. Actually I bought 5. One each for two computers in my home and one each for my folks, my wife's folks, and my son at college. I wasn't looking for anything fancy, just a reliable webcam with a built-in microphone for the purpose of making video phone calls. The webcam will also allow you to take pictures and make video clips which you can post on YouTube.
Logitech and Microsoft, along with a number of other brands, manufacture a large variety of webcams. The higher end webcams have automatic focus, higher resolutions, special effects, security surveillance, and a few other nice features. Check out webcams at Amazon for a quick list of the most highly rated webcams which are available from Amazon.com with free shipping.
Install The Webcam
For this tutorial, I'll be installing a QuickCam. Your experience should be very similar.
- Webcams connect to your computer via a USB cord. DO NOT plug in webcam yet.
- Run the webcam software CD.
- Plug in webcam when prompted.
- Complete the process dictated by your software installation. [Note, there may be a long pause about 75% through a driver install. This is normal. Be patient.]
- Right click on webcam icon in system tray (lower right).
- Click on "Check for updates".
- Download and install updates.
- Reboot computer.
That's it, your webcam is installed and you can now take pictures, make videos and play with the settings and special effects. However, you are going to need to install software which will allow you to make video phone calls. Skype, Microsoft, Yahoo and AOL all have software available. Choose the instant messenger (IM) program or software that most of your friends and family already use. If you are the first to set this up, you can set the standard. I chose Skype.|
Install Skype Software
For this tutorial, I'll be downloading and installing Skype video phone software.
- Click this link to locate the latest free Skype software.
- Click the "Download Now" link on the Skype website to download your software. Save the file to your desktop.
- Double-click on the Skype file to install the Skype software. (Uncheck the box if you do not want Google Toolbar to install).
- At end of install, click "Start Skype".
- Create a new Skype account by filling in the required info. Use lower case letters with no spaces for your Skype Name. Dashes are accepted. Write down all the info you complete. Uncheck "yes, send me Skype news and offers" after filling in email address.
- Click "Sign In". If your username is taken you'll be asked to try another.
- Follow the "Getting Started Guide" until you get to the end of the short tutorial.
- In the upper right of the Skype window, click on Tools > Options > Video Settings. Check the boxes labeled "Enable Skype video" and "Start my video automatically when I call". Use the dropdown box to select the Logitech QuickCam E2500 (or your specific webcam model). Click "Save".
|Awesome. You can now make video calls to all of your friends and family --- assuming they also have a webcam and Skype installed.|
- In the Skype window, click on "Add Contacts".
- Add your friend's email address or Skype name. (Each time it will do a search. Click on the found Skype names to add to contacts.
- Turn on your speakers.
- Click on a contact. Click on green button to initiate a call. Both ends will hear a ringing. If they are home and they answer, you will see each other and can have a conversation. The video will likely have a slight delay.
Question #1: The video images are delayed. The voice is traveling faster than the corresponding video image. What do I need to do to get the video to look and work better?|
Answer #1: you will need make sure you have all of the following...
1. Internet Explorer 6.0+ and Windows XP SP2+ operating system (or equivalents).
2. A computer that has a dual or quad core processor
3. A high quality webcam
4. A fast broadband internet connection
5. The most recent webcam software installed
6. The most recent version of Skype installed.
Question #2: What if I have any other problems?
Answer #2: Double check to make sure you did everything mentioned in my tutorial. If problems still persist, contact the manufacturer of your webcam or search support forums to resolve your particular problem.