Video chatting: All you need to know

With a standard video chat, you can see a friend and talk face to face. But with a group chat, you and three or more friends can see each other and talk at the same time.

Skype offers group video chat, but unlike the oneto-one video chat, you have to pay for this. You can initiate video chats between three or more people (maximum 10 at a time) and at least one person needs to have Skype Premium or a group video subscription (US$ 8.99 per month).

You can try the group feature free for 7 days to see if it works reliably for you. As a free alternative, you can always use Oovoo on your PC (www.oovoo.com). Three-way video chats are free with Oovoo, or you could choose one of their pay per month or pay per use plans, as detailed on the website.

To make group video calls using a phone has not been possible till now. Fring is going to be first with this feature, and they currently want feedback from users, so it is available as a free Beta for iPhone/iPod Touch and Android phones. Anyone can sign up for the limited beta release, ahead of the actual launch, but you'll have to hurry, since limited beta tester slots are available.

To get the beta, you have to fill the beta tester form from http:// goo.gl/XmjxW, and include all handset types and IMEI numbers in the form.

Rounds offers a unique proposition : simply head to www.rounds.com from your PC, login with your Facebook account and you can video chat with your Facebook friends while doing other activities together, like playing online games or watching a video.

Zorap (www.zorap.com) is another social video chat application. You can communicate with Google friends, or if you'd rather not put in your Google ID, just share a link with friends to invite them to your chatroom. Zorap requires you to install a small add-on for your web browser, post which the site can access your webcam and microphone.

Invite multiple friends, and they'll all be able to see, hear and chat with each other. You can also do dragand-drop sharing of various files. It does need each user to have a fairly fast internet connection, otherwise the video just shows up as a series of photographs.
The integrated webcams in laptops are usually not high definition, but with an external HD webcam for your laptop or desktop PC, you can video chat in HD. Needless to say, both parties need to have HD webcams, the required software and fast broadband internet connections for it to work. The uses are many.

For example, you could hook up an HD webcam to your laptop and then output the video via HDMI to a HDTV. Your counterpart does the same and you can do full-screen, HD video chats from the comfort of your couch. HD video chats usually work on a 720p resolution (1280 x 720 pixels), even if you have a 1080p webcam.

The latest versions of MSN Messenger, FaceTime & Skype support HD video chats.

FaceTime is Apple's proprietary application for video calling. Available across their latest product range (iPhone 4, iPod touch 4th generation, iPad2 and MACs), FaceTime allows for video calling only among Apple devices using the assigned e-mail address.

It currently only supports calling over Wi-Fi and works in both portrait and landscape modes

Tango is currently only available for Android and iOS devices and offers one-to-one video calls. It requires a quick registration with your email address and then scans your phonebook for other contacts using Tango.

All your contacts that are using Tango are automatically added to the contact list within the application. Initiating a video call requires selecting a contact, which in turn shows the profile page with options to place a voice or a video call.
The most commonly used email providers like Google, Microsoft and Yahoo have their own messenger software available for various platforms.

Using these messengers, you can initiate quick video calling. Google allows video chat right from your Gmail windows by installing a simple audio/video plugin, whereas Microsoft and Yahoo offer the feature through their respective messenger applications. It works on the same basis as initiating a chat wherein instead of chatting the video call needs to be initiated for specific contact.
VSee is available only for Windows computers. It requires a simple one step registration, where in a username has to be created for the VSee application.

When the application launches, it shows your video feed on the desktop along with a video. Contacts need to be manually added to your list using their VSee ID. To make a video call, simply double click on the user name and the application starts the call.

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