By Richard Harrell
Posted March 5, 2005, 8:20am
You got the iSight. Sure, you can take still photos and even make movies with it. But when you realize that iSight plus iChat AV equals videophone, you begin to see the exciting possibilities. Now if all your friends would get one...
iSight is a FireWire device that works with iChat AV to enable videochats with similarly equipped .Mac members as well as AOL or AOL Instant Messager (AIM) users. The iSight includes a microphone as well as the camera itself. If you're using a G3, you need 600 MHz or better speed, but any G4 or G5 will be fine. Broadband internet is required, and so is Mac OS X. If you have Panther, you already have iChat AV, but if you have Jaguar (Mac OS X 10.2.5 or later) and purchase iChat AV, you're good to go.
Some assembly required
The box containing iSight includes the camera, a tube about 6 inches long and 1-1/4 inches in diameter in the perforated-aluminum skin that's practically an Apple trademark. Also included are a carrying case, a FireWire cable, and an assortment of mounts. Hold on to them all, but if you have a PowerBook or flat-panel display, look for the one that has a clear u-shaped base with a clear neck. The instructions say this one is not for the flat-panel iMac but it works fine. Just assemble it with the camera pointing away from the base and hang it on the top of your display (see photo). Regardless of the mount you choose, everything just snaps together. The instruction book is very clear.
Just kidding. There's no additional software to install. Plug the cable into a FireWire port, restart, and have your .Mac account, AOL, or AIM name and password ready - you'll need them when the assistant walks you through the setup upon first use.
Get a buddy and chat
You may have to scout around a bit to find someone to videochat with. Anyone with a mac.com e-mail address or and AOL or AIM account is a potential buddy. Even if they don't have an iSight or other webcam, they can receive your audio and video and you can receive their audio. Add them to your iChat buddy list. With iChat running, check your buddy list for who's available to chat and who's not. I've tested mine with other dBug members, one with a .Mac account and one with AIM.
"Over" is over
The iSight has full duplex audio, so that you don't have to wait for your buddy to finish talking (over). You and the person you are talking with can converse naturally - interrupt, finish each other's sentences, and talk at the same time, if that's your style. The microphone - actually two of them, diminish background noise. The on-board processor adjusts focus and adapts to lighting conditions.
Outside the box
iSight is complete in itself, but software to enhance it and third party accessories are also available. iGlasses from ecamm, for instance, enhances the light-sensitivity of the iSight and even includes an in-the-dark mode. ecamm also offers software that lets you videochat using USB cameras, but that's another story.
Richard Harrell is co-editor of dBug MacNews.