As someone who travels almost constantly, I depend on video conferencing software to keep in touch with friends, family, and clients. Although video conferencing has long had a reputation for being expensive, there are actually a lot of free or low cost video chat applications available. This article lists five such applications.
1. Camfrog Video Chat
Camfrog Video Chat is a free video chat application that can also be used for audio, text chat, and even for transferring files. The software is simple to install. However, after doing so, you must complete a quick and easy online registration that consists of supplying a nickname, password, and e-mail address. After completing that process, you then have access to the Camfrog network. The Camfrog network consists of numerous chat rooms dedicated to all manner of chats ranging from kid friendly to some that are rather dubious.
2. Eyeball Chat
Eyeball Chat is another free video chat application. Like Camfrog Video Chat, Eyeball Chat lets you communicate through voice, video, and text, and also allows for file sharing.
Eyeball chat also features the ability to place calls. You can make PC to PC calls for free, but you can also use the software to place calls to cell phones or to land lines.
3. inSpeak - The Voice Chat Communicator
In spite of its name, inSpeak - The Voice Chat Communicator supports video as well as voice. This free application lets you view up to six Web cams at a time. Like the other applications discussed in this article, InSpeak - The Voice Chat Communicator requires you to complete a simple registration process. Upon doing so, the service e-mails you a random password, which you use to log into the service.
The InSpeak software offers all of the basics that you would typically expect from a video chat application, but it also contains one noteworthy feature. The service actually allows you to create and administer your own chat rooms. That way you can build special purpose chat rooms that are under your full control.
4. Nimbuzz Messenger
Nimbuzz Messenger is a free video chat application. The biggest thing that makes Nimbuzz Messenger stand out from the other chat applications is that the Nimbuzz Messenger could best be described as a chat client. This means that Nimbuzz Messenger can be used with things like Facebook, Windows Live, and Yahoo. In addition, Nimbuzz Manager also has its own chat environment that you can use even if you don't belong to any of the supported third-party messaging environments.
VZ0chat is yet another free video chat application. VZ0chat has a number of different things going for it. First, it supports up to 120 users in a chat at a time. Another nice feature is call-history tracking. The software even maintains a list of missed calls. The icing on the cake is that unlike some chat applications, VZ0chat works from behind a firewall.
VZ0chat does an especially nice job with user management. The software allows you to import contacts from your e-mail software, and there is also a way to block calls from people who are not on your contacts list.
Brien Posey is a seven-time Microsoft MVP. He has written thousands of articles and written or contributed to dozens of books on a variety of IT subjects.