There are three ways to set up Web conferences or Webinars: computer-based, desktop or a studio system.
The least expensive is the computer-based system which uses a computer, Webcam and free software like NetMeeting, Microsoft or similar products, and a coder/decoder (CODEC) card [source: AskMen.com].
If your computer doesn't have a built-in camera , you'll need an H320 standard camera such as a Logitech QuickCam. H320 is a telecommunications industry standard for videoconferencing that allows communication over ISDN (integrated digital services network) [source: PC Magazine]. It's easy to connect the camera into the computer's USB port and install the program software into your hard drive.
A desktop system is a step up from the computer-based system in that dedicated hardware is installed onto the computer. This allows for improved audio and video transmissions over the computer-based system.
To use either system, your computer will need a network card as well as a camera, microphone and speakers.
Be prepared to sacrifice quality if you're using Webcams and free software. The resolution with these systems is quite often poor and the frame rate is only one frame per second. Using a desktop system with the accompanying software will give better quality with frame speeds of up to 30 frames per second. Regardless of which system is used, there are transmission delays of about one second during the communication [source: AskMen.com].
Offering the best quality, but also the most expensive, are the studio-based systems in which a room is supplied with document viewers, overhead cameras, slide viewers, control systems and vision switchers. These systems are usually used by large companies or universities [source: AskMen.com].
There are two choices for connecting to the Internet. ISDN connections use telephone networks for data transmissions. Internet Protocol (IP) connections use the Internet.
ISDN connections provide a consistent bandwidth level during the call. The connection isn't affected by restrictive firewall settings that can affect IP transmissions. ISDN's are best suited for group video systems that are set up in conference rooms with outside locations.
IP-based conferences use an Ethernet connection. Calls can be made from the public Internet or by using a service provider network and dedicated T-1 lines. IP systems can experience delays if the network is congested, particularly if over the public Internet. Corporate firewalls may block data coming in our out of the local area network [source: NetworkWorld].
On the next page, we'll talk about setting up a video Web event.