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Free iChat Video Calls Using DV Camera & Broadband

Technology is a marvellous thing. I've had a high-speed broadband connection, DV camera and Apple's iChat for years now but have only just got around to taking real advantage of them by signing up to a free AOL AIM account which allows me to video call/conference from Paris to Sydney for free. Funny part is, the AOL account recognises a .Mac account I used to have - I discontinued it as I only used the email facility and those burglars at Apple wanted some outrageous fee to continue doing so. But no matter, the AIM account recognises my .Mac name and I'm in business to iChat.

The only problem I had with all this was that I couldn't use the HDV mode on my CanonHV20 video camera. I had to set it to DV. Which I connected to my three year old Apple iMac G5 with a firewire. And selected "full-screen" to see my brother's noggin talking to me from Australia. He was able to meet my four year old boy and 10 month old baby girl for the first time and we chatted for about an hour. Free. Amazing huh?

Now we just have to get the children's 84 year old Australian grandmother online to see them live for the first time too.

If you need help getting your video calls up and running leave me a comment and I'll do my best. Otherwise go to this page and follow the Video conference tutorial.

HD Video Conferencing

BTW you can get HD Video Conferencing but it doesn't come cheap. Sony, for instance, released an HD system 6 months ago that costs €7,000 just for the basic gear - codec, camera, microphones - but doesn't include the screen. I guess you could add another €3,000 for a decent HD television.

Tandberg also offer a number of HD Video Conferencing Systems and are releasing a consumer version that will be demonstrated here in Paris next month at a VOIP Conference.

So at the moment video conferencing in HD is targeted to the commercial market. But no doubt soon we'll be able to call Granny in Australia on a domestic version hopefully for a fraction of the price. I note OoVoo - another free video call site, is hoping to release a consumer version of HD video conferencing later this year. Can't wait.

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