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Mac OS X Leopard: The Missing Manual by David Pogue

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Video Chats

If you and your partner both have broadband Internet connections, even more impressive feats await. You can conduct a free video chat with up to four people, who show up on three vertical panels, gorgeously reflected on a shiny black table surface. This isn't the jerky, out-of-audio-sync, Triscuit-sized video of Windows videoconferencing. If you've got the Mac muscle and bandwidth, your partners are as crisp, clear, bright and smooth as television—and as big as your screen, if you like.

People can come and go; as they enter and leave the "videosphere," iChat slides their glistening screens aside, enlarging or shrinking them as necessary to fit on your screen.

Apple offers this luxurious experience, however, only if you have luxurious gear:

  • A video camera. It can be the tiny iSight camera that's embedded above the screens of iMacs and laptops; an external FireWire iSight camera; an ordinary digital camcorder (as long as your Mac has at least a G5 chip inside); or a golf-ball Webcam that connects via FireWire instead of USB.

    Tip

    You and your buddy don't both need the same gear. If only you have a camera, for example, you can choose Buddies→Invite to One-Way Video Chat (or Audio Chat). Your less-equipped buddy can see you, but has to speak (audio only) or type in response.

  • A fast processor. This is miserably picky information, but confronting it now will save you many headaches down the road:

    If your Mac has a 867-megahertz G4 processor or anything faster, you can have one-on-one ...

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