Many laptops and desktop PCs these days come with webcams installed. Yet how many of us make use of them -- to make video calls, that is. Setting up video conferencing software is not always the cinch, we are told it is. Each package has its eccentricities... not counting the hassle of having to assume nick names and persuading our friends to do the same before we can talk to them while seeing each other.
Logitech, makers of a range of webcams that sell in India in the range of Rs 1000 -- Rs 9000, have just unveiled a software tool that seems tailored for the rest of us -- dummies, that is -- who would love to talk-and-watch our friends and loved ones, but are challenged by anything remotely complicated, set-up-wise.
The software is called Vid
and it is currently a free download for all owners of a Logitech webcam -- and to those they call or invite --and can be accessed at www.logitech.com/vid
It's a 14 MB download and set up is fast, linking to the webcam automatically especially if it is a Logitech. No nicknames; it uses email user name . When the friends you invite, download the software at their end, it grabs their picture, which then appears on your machine in a carousel of faces for easy access, alphabetical and indicating if they are available, unavailable or busy. You initiate the call by clicking on his or her picture. The video is 640 by 4380 pixels at 30 frames a second.
The software is currently for current Windows, Mac Tiger/Leapard and Safari. There is no linux version.
The tool is primarily meant for Logitech Webcam customers. But others can download and use for 30 days. The idea, seems to be to persuade users to buy a Logitech webcam. This seems a pity since so many laptops come with built in webcams that might not be Logitech. Why should they buy another webcam? Logitech will hopefully remove this restriction. They launched this software after acquiring the people who made it, Sightspeed. But they are biggies in peripherals like webcams, mouse and keyboard -- and surely could place this tool in the free to use domain, without losing too much and gaining a lot of goodwill!
( see related video on the home page)
Anand Parthasarathy, Bangalore June 22 2009