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March 2, 2011

Setting Up for Skype – Webcams and Headsets

After some initial tinkering around with Skype we decided to take the leap and equip every employee’s desktop with an HD webcam.

Desktop with HD webcam

Desktop Computer with HD Webcam

The Webcam

We purchased Logitech HD Pro Webcams (model C910) for all the computers at the office, as well as for the remote employees.

The picture quality is almost flawless. Having used the built-in webcam on my laptop to originally play with Skype, switching over to the Logitech camera was a dramatic improvement.

 Before everyone had their equipment installed we had a group meeting with two remote employees, only one person had the new camera, so we were able to see a side-by-side comparison of two different videos. The picture from the Logitech C910 camera was clearly superior.

The Headset

We started out only buying a couple of headsets (different models) to test out before purchasing one for every employee.

I got the Logitech Wireless Headset (model H760); this headset has a rotating boom and fits around the back of the head.

I think it is pretty comfortable – although if I had to wear it all day long it would get heavy. I keep it on my desk (fully charged) and put it on when I need to make a Skype call. You can use the headset while it is charging, but I find the cord to add extra weight which pulls on the headset.

I like being able to mute my microphone by moving the boom up and out of my face, this lets me use the headset to listen to sound (in lieu of using speakers) without having a microphone in my face. I had some initial difficulties getting the settings correct between both Skype and the computer sound settings. If you are using a microphone on a headset both the Skype and computer must have the headset as the default device for your microphone settings. When these settings were incorrect sometimes the camera’s microphone tried to pick up my voice causing the sound to break in and out. Now that I have everything correctly set, the headset works great.

When purchasing headsets for the rest of the employees we selected several styles to allow people to choose something comfortable based on their preference.

There were some concerns raised about wanting wired headsets instead of wireless headsets. According to information from the FDA and FCC, the current body of research does not show a link between health effects and the level of radiation from mobile devices, such as cell phones. In fact, they suggest using a Bluetooth device to lessen the exposure to Radio Frequency if you are concerned, because the RF from a Bluetooth device is less than that of a cellular phone. We wanted everyone to be as comfortable as possible using this technology, so we allowed anyone to use a wired headset if they wanted.

Tomorrow I will discuss how we equipped our conference room for Skype.

    1. The C910 is a great camera. The only negative I can think of is sometimes the “Follow my Face” function doesn’t work as smoothly as it seems it should. This camera is definitely worth it.

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