Determining Your PC Needs For Videoconferencing

by : Jason Cox

Video conferencing is no longer a figment of someones imagination or a plan for a distant future. Instead, more and more individuals have found video conferencing as a useful tool.

Some of them own or run businesses and video conferencing is replacing intra-company travel in favor of quicker, easier, and less costly methods of holding meetings and getting everyone on the same page with respect to new products, new business procedures, or simply every-day customer service needs. Others have discovered this technology for person use, such as families that are spread across the country or maybe even across the globe.

Grandchildren no longer have to simply look at a smiling photograph of a pair of strangers they are told are their grandparents, but instead they can interact via the computer screen with them!

Of course, video conferencing technology is necessary to fill this need. Thus, when getting ready to purchase your own, or your companies, first video conferencing software package, consider your needs:

1. You probably want the seamless integration of video and audio. In other words, you do not want a jerky picture that seems to lag several second behind the audio.

2. The video itself should be realistic and not grainy.

3. The audio needs to be realistic and not sound tinny.

4. You will want to be able to simultaneously share files.

For example, if you are holding a business meeting, you probably do not want to tell the other party that you will e-mail them a file after the meeting. Instead, you probably want to have the ability to send it right away. The same is true for visual aids, such as graphs and charts. For personal use, you may wish to send photo albums to your family while you are chatting with them.

Obviously, this technology requires PC capabilities that will present the proper platform. Since inadequate PC capabilities will seriously hamper the performance of the video conferencing software, it is imperative to ensure that all necessary aspects are available. While the details of the requirements are software specific, some components are common across the board:

- You will want to run Windows 95 at the bare minimum, yet Windows 98, 2000, or even the ME or XP editions would be preferred. Older operating systems will most likely not be compatible with the demands of video conferencing software.

- When it comes to system requirements, you will most like run a machine with a Pentium processor at 90 MHz and 16 MB of RAM. Since you will need to have excellent audio capabilities, you will want to invest in a SoundBlaster 16 compatible sound card.

Some systems may already be equipped with this card, so it is a good idea to read your computers documentation to find out what you have and what you need. Video input devices are plentiful, and anything that will work with VFW (which simply stands for Video for Windows) will be satisfactory. Last but not least, if you are looking to support streaming movies or even mp3 files, you will want to run QuickTime for personal computers.

- You will need an Internet connection. You probably already know that you get what you pay for when it comes to connecting to the world wide web, and thus if you are still using a dial up connection, you can expect all the problems and issues that you have with this connection to be multiplied with your video conferencing software. In other words, dropped connections extremely slow loading speeds and other ills that may be avoided with a cable or DSL connection.

As you can see, many of these system requirements are no different than any other computer peripheral you may choose to run. Yet because video conferencing will only truly be beneficial if you can get all components to work together at maximum efficiency, it is absolutely imperative that you familiarize yourself with the softwares specific needs before you buy and begin the installation process.

If you are not certain that a system will work on your computer, consider contacting the manufacturer for more information or some suggestions on how you could upgrade your PC to make it compatible for your new software.