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View Full Version : Advise me on a super video chat set up



fionaw
6th February 2009, 08:18 AM
Hi all,

I'm looking into setting up a high quality video chat system at my parents house. My brother is moving to London next week and wants to be able to video chat with my parents who are deaf. Dad is completely deaf and mum has very low hearing. Using sign language on the video conferencing would be perfect. However we are having a few problems.

We have had a few tries at skype, but the vision is blurred and delayed. The delay of the few seconds means that you have to sign very_slow, which means you can't really have a proper conversation.

My brother has a high quality quality PC laptop with an inbuilt camera and microphone. He uses a USB headset to improve sound quality. In London he will have a broadband connection (not sure what but assuming ADSL+2 at least)

My parents have an old HP computer that only has USB 1.1 ports. They have ADSL+2 also. They have a cheapish video camera and we have been practicing using the headsets for mum.

Ease of use is important for mum and dad so we'd like to stick with skype if possible.

I'm currently considering the following:
- Getting them a new PC, with a good quality video camera. However I'd like to be able to bump up the internal speakers so it is VERY loud for mum so she can hear.
- Getting them a refurbished iMac (the intel white one) and buying a very high quality headset for mum. Would this deliver a better sound outcome than a PC?

I'm just not sure what is the biggest factor in improving quality. I know it is a combination of good software, good internet speed, quality video camera, quality computer hardware and a quality headset. I'm just not sure if some factors are more important than others, especially when it comes to spending money.

The budget for this is probably around $1,000 to $1,200, but I'm open to more expensive suggestions if there is a need.

Any ideas that people can give me on this would be very appreciated.

Cheers, Fiona

decryption
6th February 2009, 09:06 AM
The best you're going to get without spending thousands is simply an iMac and a USB headset. Don't get anything too flash though. Make sure their internet connection is up to scratch too. Skype is the best & easiest.

SSUteboy
6th February 2009, 09:09 AM
I am a frequent user of skype video to dubi and the video is not that good. I think that skype is the problem and it will not matter what you have on either end of the conection.

Doobsy
6th February 2009, 09:15 AM
Don't know about Oz to UK but interstate, skype is great. The occasional buffer lag but that's about it.

I'm pretty sure internet connection is the most concerning factor.

Nothing works like it does in the movies...

fionaw
6th February 2009, 01:23 PM
Thanks for the feedback.

Any other suggestions?

bennettnz
6th February 2009, 01:49 PM
I use Skype all the time, ichat looked better but seldom works, but it will definitely depend on connections try not to use a wireless connection... make sure that you have the latest versions of skype

thorntonp
6th February 2009, 02:38 PM
I iChat with the UK regularly, and it's excellent. We have frequent 3 way video chats. Have tried Skype, and iChat won hands down.

It is really dependent on both ends having good quality internet connection.

Cods
6th February 2009, 02:53 PM
I have family in the UK, and we video chat regularly.

I'd have to add my two cents that with two solid fastish internet connections, iChat between Intel Macs (doesn't matter which) is very high quality visually, with low levels of lag.

Not that that tidbit is much use to you, because your brother will be using a PC, iChat's off the table, even if your parents get an iMac. So Skype it is.

Skype is never as good as iChat, in my experience, the resolution and blocking is always noticeably worse in Skype. Whether it's OK for your parent's needs, I'm of course unable to say.
That said, if one of you has a dodgy or slow connection, Skype seems to deal with it OK, whereas on the odd occasion iChat has borked.

Not sure on the current state of things, but earlier last year we went through about five alternatives to Skype and iChat, as one of us only has a PC. We were trying to look for a cross-platform video chat application / service that worked better than Skype.
In short: we didn't find one.

Skype it is, I'd say, unless you can convince your brother to switch...
Good luck!

Dante Kyar
6th February 2009, 03:26 PM
I understand the benefits of video chat from an emotional point of view. But why not just use instant text messaging?

Nexus
6th February 2009, 03:38 PM
I understand the benefits of video chat from an emotional point of view. But why not just use instant text messaging?

There is just something about talking (not necessarily viewing) a person that makes it all feel so much closer. Text messaging is nice, but often :mad: just doesn't show that you are constipated for example.

Each to their own I guess.

bennettnz
6th February 2009, 04:58 PM
I understand the benefits of video chat from an emotional point of view. But why not just use instant text messaging?

Because the whole issue is that the person needs to use sign language to communicate so video is pretty necessary in this case... also once you video chat regularly it becomes pretty easy and second nature.

lenman74
6th February 2009, 05:03 PM
I understand the benefits of video chat from an emotional point of view. But why not just use instant text messaging?

Because you dont feel like your there with text messaging.

I spend lots of time in the office. Never get to see the toddler.

Solution - Video Chat, full screen, and always on, between my mac laptop in the office, (not my work machine) and an old G4 with isight at home in the living room.

I get to see everyone come and go as the day/night progresses, they only need to come to the screen to have a chat with me. Its like im there stuck in the corner of the room.

I use skype and think the quality is crap. BUT, ichat is SOOO hard to get set up. There is always some issue with the NAT/firewall. Have managed to use it once, and it was better.

Try and get iChat working if you can.

Nexus
6th February 2009, 05:11 PM
Sounds like a huge waste of bandwidth to me.

decryption
6th February 2009, 05:13 PM
Sounds like a huge waste of bandwidth to me.

And there's a bandwidth shortage?

So what if people want to video chat - we have the technology!

Dante Kyar
6th February 2009, 05:14 PM
Because the whole issue is that the person needs to use sign language to communicate so video is pretty necessary in this case... also once you video chat regularly it becomes pretty easy and second nature.

I know they need sign language. It's not like they're blind and need audio.

Apart from the obvious visual difference between sign language and written text.... text to a deaf person would achieve the same thing.

I was just suggesting in order to save a few $$$.

Cods
7th February 2009, 05:21 PM
This page on Mactopia (http://www.officeformac.com/.59b66d19) suggests that they are actively working (closed Beta) on adding Video to the consumer Windows Live Messenger application for the Mac.

It's already active in the Corporate version, but no, there's no hack that I know of to get it working for the Personal version - you need an MS Office Communications Server. The Personal version runs through the Windows Live service.

Perhaps that might be of help when (if?) it comes out.

Cheers,