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Ask Dr. Z-Which webcam is the best? Which videophone gives the best picture quality?

Especially with software based applications such as the Z4, people have come to us asking which webcam they should use for their laptop or desktop.

What is a webcam? A webcam is a “web camera.” It is a camera used to communicate via video (like a dedicated videophone).

First things first—you always pay for what you get.

Second–Most laptops and netbooks today have built-in webcams-which means you do not have to buy a separate webcam.

Third-If you have a desktop, you need to buy a webcam from any of the providers usually at Best Buy or WalMart–the top 3 major providers of webcams are Creative, Microsoft and Logitech. They come in all forms and shapes and in different price ranges. Usually the recommendation is not to buy a cheap webcam, a mid priced-$35 and up would be Dr. Z’s recommendation. Most webcams can be returned (check your store’s return policy) if you feel the quality is not what you expect. The higher priced webcams tend to have better quality.

If you have a MacBook (Mac laptop) or an iMac, they all come with built in webcams which provide really good quality. If you have a desktop Mac (Mac Pro), you can add an Apple Cinema Display which also has a built-in webcam. The Apple webcams are called iSight. Some of the older Apple models do not have a built-in webcam so check first.

For the PC world, you have to check first as to whether the display (or monitor) has a built-in webcam. If it doesn’t, you would have to buy a webcam off the shelf. Most of the newer models with built-in webcams offer good quality for video communication.

The Z4 will locate the webcam automatically. If you have 2 webcams, you will need to select one using the Z4 configuration button under “video.”

The advantage of a laptop or netbook is its portability–you can carry it anywhere and use wifi or mifi to be able to communicate from wherever you want.

Dr. Z cares about your communication access.

Disclosure: Dr. Z is a contractor working with CSDVRS on several projects.

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