Saturday, February 27, 2010

Configuring Skype Video

Go to Skype: Tools: Options …, and click on Video to display the configuration settings for video, as shown in the following figure. Most of the configuration settings in this figure are self explanatory and, as you can see, Skype video is enabled by default when you install Skype. If you don’t want to make video calls (perhaps your bandwidth isn’t quite up to it, or you just don’t like it), you can uncheck Enable Skype Video. Alternatively, you can leave Skype video enabled, but uncheck Start my Video Automatically, which gives you control over when to make your video available to be seen by others.

Installing a Webcam

A typical webcam plugs into a USB port on your PC and comes with drivers and software to make it work with Windows. Some webcams require the drivers and software to be installed on your PC before you plug in your webcam, while others do it the other way around. If you follow the instructions supplied by your webcam manufacturer, you should be fine.
To install a webcam, you will need a spare USB port. Most PCs have anywhere from two or four USB ports, but given the number of peripherals that use USB, these can fill up pretty quickly. If you need more USB ports for your PC, you can use a USB hub to give you additional ports.
To use the webcam to make Skype video calls, you will need to position it so that you can look at it while you talk. Most webcams come with a privacy shield, which can be placed over the lens to block your image when you don’t want anyone to see you. Many webcam users leave the privacy shield in place most of the time, and only flick it out of the way when they’re sure they want to be seen.

Skype Video Requirements

For you to make use of Skype video, you need to meet certain minimum requirements, as detailed in the following sections.
If you want to have a good experience using video, you should double those minimum requirements. Skype recommends, as a minimum, that your processor speed be around the 1 GHz mark. As most webcams connect to your PC using USB, you will also need a spare USB port.
If you are to have anything like real-time moving pictures, puts additional demands on your Internet connection.
Specifically, you will need a good deal more available bandwidth (data transfer speed) than for plain-vanilla Skype voice calls. Skype recommends a bandwidth (send and receive) of at least 256 Kbps for Skype video to work well. Skype video will work at lower speeds, but the streaming image might be jerky and broken up.
To use Skype video, you will need a Skype-compatible webcam. You will also need to install the webcam and configure it for use by Skype.