Installing and configuring a webcam

In this article we will show you exactly what type of hardware and software you need to make your camera productive and fun for you.

We will be conducting this exercise with a camera that has been around for quite a while now - Logitech's Quickcam Express. This is a camera that utilises USB connectivity. In fact, most of the cameras you will find on the shelf of your local computer store will probably also take advantage of this interface. Before we proceed, it is our duty to inform you that you will need a USB port if you want to utilise a relatively easy-to-install and use, high-quality web camera that performs well.

If your computer lacks USB connectivity you can add it by purchasing a PCI USB add-on card. These cards plug into one of your free PCI slots and instantly give you two or more USB ports. More expensive cameras may utilise the quicker FireWire connectivity option, and may actually require their own PCI cards to be installed for better communication with the computer.

If your computer has USB already but doesn't have enough USB ports, and consequently you have to keep removing and swapping devices, then you might like to consider getting a USB hub, which can double or even triple the number of ports available on your system. Of course, remember that you will also need an operating system that can handle USB connectivity - basically anything better than Windows 95b (but remember always to check the operating system requirements of the hardware so you can make sure the gear will work on your particular setup). For more information on USB connectivity, check out the September 2000 instalment of Upgrader.

The camera installation itself is a very simple task, but to get it working properly you will need to configure the settings of its associated software. On the following pages, we will show you how to configure some of the most common settings, such as picture and audio quality, as well as how to use one of the more popular software applications for conferencing - Microsoft's NetMeeting.the top downBenefits: Video conferencing, video e-mail, still camera shotsCosts: $99-$1000Expertise level: BeginnerTime required: 15-30 minutesRequirements: Pentium II or higher processor, 16MB RAM or higher, USB, Windows 95b (OSR 2.1) or higher, CD-ROM drive, 16-bit colour capable display adapterVendor: Check out this month's Best Buys for a list of different cameras as well as comparisons and feature setsInstallationAudio SetupVideo SetupMicrosoft NetmeetingImage is everything

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Elias Plastiras
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