First Look: Logitech Adds Video to IM

By SmallBusinessComputing Staff
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By Bob Woods

Smile, you're on IM Camera.

Logitech has introduced its new IM Video Companion, which lets MSN Messenger and AOL Instant Messenger (AIM) users send live video while they're typing instant messages (IM).

For those who want to send video, they first log onto and use their MSN Messenger and AIM clients as usual. To add live video, they then launch Logitech IM Video Companion and invite a friend to "Click to see my video." Most should not need any special software installed in order to watch the live video. To ensure privacy, only those friends that the sender invites will be able to view the live video, Logitech said.

IM'ers can send simultaneous streams of live video to multiple friends with the Logitech IM Video Companion. Also, "broadcasters" can stop sending video to one or all friends during the IM session.

Users on both the sending and receiving sides of the video can use either broadband or modem connections to use the IM Video Companion. The application uses advanced compression technologies that automatically adapt to the all users' Internet connection. It then optimizes the video performance for the broadcaster and any and all viewers, based on their respective Internet speeds.

IM Video Companion also addresses firewall issues - it ensures the video will work even if one of the participants is behind a firewall or NAT, Logitech also said.

Up until now, video-enhanced messaging was only available with Yahoo Messenger or Windows Messenger, the latter of which is included with the Windows XP operating system.

Registration is not required for the 1.5MB download or actually using the service, InstantMessagingPlanet found. Logitech says, though, that its service works best with its own products, including the ClickSmart and the various flavors of its QuickCam. Software for the service is shipping with new Logitech cameras, the company also said.

We got the service to work perfectly with an old, discontinued Intel Pocket PC Camera we had lying around our office. We had to shut off ZoneAlarm Pro to get it to stream out, though. Once we did that, the system worked like a charm.

Of course, IM Video Companion is only a video add-on to MSN Messenger (version 4.0 or later) and AIM (version 4.7 or later) that's designed to compliment those popular IM clients. It doesn't replace the IM client, so features like voice and file sharing will continue to work as they did before.

The IM Video Companion works with PCs running Windows 98 or higher. It uses standards-based approaches for ensuring connectivity between users. If a user has a firewall, she may want to adjust her settings to allow incoming TCP connections to port 80 and port 8080. If she has an Internet-sharing device or software, she may want to map incoming TCP connections to port 80 and port 8080 to the internal (private) network address of the computer running Logitech IM Video Companion.

There's no version for Macintosh users - they can only view video streamed from the service from their Web browsers, as can anyone who has a current Web browser on their computers.

Corporate LAN users are urged by Logitech to contact their respective network administrators before using the product.

Bob Woods is the managing editor of InstantMessagingPlanet.

Reprinted from InstantMessagingPlanet.
This article was originally published on July 24, 2002

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