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Tech Smart: Open a window to HD Video Calls

Issue 10

Video conferences, in one form or another, are certainly not a brand-new technology. But in the past, they’ve been mostly relegated to the bin of novelty technology because of either (or both) the high cost or low quality.

Video conferences, in one form or another, are certainly not a brand-new technology. But in the past, they’ve been mostly relegated to the bin of novelty technology because of either (or both) the high cost or low quality.

Well, that will change soon. The number of computers, laptops, netbooks and smartphones equipped with cameras for the calls, as well as services set up to manage the video call traffic, are growing at a rapid pace. More importantly, Internet and wireless service providers are starting to catch up to the data demands of the calls, allowing a quantum leap in the quality available in computer-to-computer video connections.

Of course, it takes more than surplus bandwidth to make a high-quality video call. If the cameras and screens on both ends are not up to the task, the quality of the calls will continue to lag, and this is where Microsoft’s new LifeCam Studio™ can really help out.

A true HD solution

While known primarily for the Windows operating system and business software titles, LifeCam Studio is a part of Microsoft’s expanding hardware portfolio and it’s been designed to work with the company’s Windows Live Messenger 2011 application as well as popular services such as Skype and Yahoo! Messenger.

The centerpiece of LifeCam Studio’s technical specifications is the 1080p sensor capable of recording and transmitting true HD video in a 16:9 widescreen format. This means video calls can fill the entire widescreen computer monitor, or an HD TV connected to the computer. Unfortunately, current software limits the resolution to 720p, but that’s still a very high-quality image.

With auto-focus, color-correcting technology and a physical hood protecting the camera’s optics, it can provide high-quality images and bright colors in almost any lighting condition. Mounting options allow it to be fixed atop a computer monitor or attached to a camera tripod. Additionally, the camera can swivel  360° to make it easy to aim at whatever needs to be broadcast, and an omnidirectional microphone lets the camera be pointed away from the person speaking on the call.

Why that matters

Remember the first time you saw a HD TV with a picture more clear and sharp than previously imagined. Your old set seemed fine until that HD image came along, but now an analog image seems fuzzy and dated.

The same principle applies to what a true HD camera can do for video calls. No longer are the calls confined to a tiny box with blurry images that might or might not be the face of the person you’re talking with. Video calls in HD almost seem to bring the person on the other end of the line into the room with you. And with the size of some TV screens, they can literally appear larger than life.

Forming close ties

Having an HD video pipeline from your lab can bring you even closer to the dentists with whom you work. If you both have a LifeCam Studio connected to your computers, it can be almost like you’re right in the operatory at critical times.

Video calls provide the face to face experience that can strengthen the partnerships at the heart of the dental lab business. Adding HD resolution to that equation gives you and the people you work with the chance to see the fine details on the other end and makes incredibly close collaboration possible, even when everyone is divided by a great physical distance.

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