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The Freetalk Everyman Webcam For Skype

As a further experiment I put the Freetalk camera on my wife’s desktop PC and called from her Skype account to Skype on my desktop PC, which has the Logitech Webcam Pro 9000 attached. The idea was to stage a call that was wholly contained on my local network so that bandwidth should not have been an issue.

Monitoring the traffic across my router I was able to confirm that the video stream was not leaving my home network.

Unfortunately, the Skype 5 Beta was less than cooperative. It somehow reached the conclusion that I didn’t have enough bandwidth for an HD call, so it would only pass VGA resolution video. This is the example screenshot that you see above.

In trying to record some of the cameras output I found that there is literally no software beyond Skype that will access the H.264 streams that it creates. I found a program called VODBurner that is specifically designed to record Skype video calls, so that is how I captured the following sample clip. This clip is an excerpt from a conversation with fellow voip- blogger Dave Michels.

For the moment the Freetalk camera seems to be a Skype-specific one trick pony. Nothing else that had on-hand, including the Adobe Production Bundle, could access the video from the Freetalk camera. This is a pity as there are other applications I use, like Dim Dim online presentations, that could benefit from access to the camera.

I’m told that the newly released SkypeKit includes access to the APIs that allow for integration with the Freetalk camera. Perhaps some developers will make use of this to make the Freetalk camera more generally useful with other applications.

The Freetalk Everyman Webcam makes notably better video than the HP Mini’s built-in webcam, but not as good as my existing Logitech Quickcam Pro 9000. Since the Logitech camera costs twice as much as the Freetalk webcam I guess that’s to be expected.

In conclusion, the Freetalk Everyman Webcam for Skype does exactly what it promises. It delivers Skype a video stream at up to 720p and at reasonable frame rates. The video looks decent, although not outstanding.

The on-board video encoding eases the burden on the host system, making it possible to have better quality Skype video calls on relatively humble hardware. If Skype defines your sole need for a webcam then for the rather modest asking price of $50 the Freetalk Everyman Webcam is a reasonable choice.

This Post Has 4 Comments
  1. Great review. Any tips on keeping Skype on the local network? I tried a test setup similar to yours (Internal Gigabit network) and Skype kept complaining about low bandwidth. Upon checking my firewall, there was a decent amount of traffic going outside of the network.

  2. As a follow-up, I have found a very interesting tool that allows Skype to send video in higher resolutions. Calls with my Logitech Webcam for Notebooks were being sent at 320×240… after using this tool, calls were being broadcast at 640×480 (the limit of the camera).

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