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iSight : iSight and the PC

As mentioned in the Title box - there are pages that were written a little while ago by EZ Jim, a poster on the Apple Discussions who contributed to iSight and iChat Discussions. The words the following pages are EZ Jim's

Use the the Information Column Menu for EZ Jim's pages

iSight and the PC

Occasionally, people ask whether the iSight can be used as a web-cam on a PC.

iSight, a Firewire web-cam, works GREAT with Macs and iChat AV. They are designed to work together. However, PCs, and the software that they use, seem to work easier with USB web-cams. Those using a PC will have less cost and less configuration effort if they select a PC web-cam compatible with the software they intend to use to drive it.

While it is possible to connect iSight to a Firewire equipped PC, PC users will likely find using a PC compatible USB web-cam more satisfactory. A few users have posted in Apple Discussions that they can get a video image from iSight on their PCs. However, you need a Mac and Mac software to use the full functionality of iSight audio and video.

Any USB webcam that is compatible with the PC chat software application will work. Auto focus is nice, as is auto exposure, but they add cost. Some, but not all, have built in microphones. If you do not already have a mic, built-in can save desk clutter if that is an issue.

One place you can save money is on the motion-follow (sometimes called face-follow) feature offered on many of the mid-and-upper-priced PC webcams. Motion-follow can cause severe jumps that are distracting during video chat. If you need motion-follow for other uses, such as surveillance camera applications, it is acceptable, but if your sole webcam use is for video chat, you do not need to spend extra for this feature. If all the cameras that have the other features you wants also include motion follow, or if the jerky motion bothers your chat buddy, don't worry. The feature can be turned off when you video chat.

I have never used iSight as a web-cam on a PC, so I cannot give specific assistance in how to do it. Help for those who wish to try will most likely come from PC discussions forums or a web search using Google or your favorite search engine to find required drivers and tips for successfully matching and configuring components.

There is an alternative solution that may be of interest to some PC users. In January, 2005, Apple introduced the Mac mini. Adding a Mac mini offers a full-functioning way to use your iSight with your PC's keyboard, mouse, and monitor. (See the Mac mini link for more information). Add a KVM switch to allow convenient switching of one keyboard and video monitor between both computers, and use the PC until you hear an incoming call on the Mac mini. Then just turn the KVM switch, and answer the iChat AV call on your Mac mini.

Here are the advantages of using the Mac mini approach:

The Mac mini alternative will add high-quality, full-screen video (with voice) messaging capability for current PC users.* (Requires broadband internet service.)

Using Mac OS X 10.4.x on the Mac mini will allow you to participate in iChat AV 3 multi-party video conferences .

Note: A Mac Mini running Mac OS X 10.4 can participate in four-person video conferences, but it cannot initiate such. See the Mac OS X 10.4: iChat AV system requirements for details.

In some cases, the Mac mini alternative may even allow ISP cost reductions because the bandwidth required for Mac <-> Mac video chat is somewhat lower than that required for Mac/iChat AV <-> PC/AIM video. This fact may yield cost savings, especially for some satellite or DSL broadband customers.

The PC is still available at the turn of the KVM switch for connecting with PC buddies who will not use anything other than PC-only messenger applications.

* Note: AIM/PC's "Talk" (audio only with AIM 5.9) feature is currently not supported between iChat AV and AIM on a PC. Audio is, however, available as part of iChat AV/Mac <-> AIM/PC Video. Edit 24/08/2007 To this. AIM 6.1 for the PC can Audio only chat to iChat.

* Note (added 24/08/2007 At 10.4.9 Apple added USB Viceo Class (UVC) compliance to the OS and these cameras (USB 2.0 with UVC) are able to Video chat without additional drivers.

Note added 14/9/2008 With Intel Macs the possiblitlity of Booting into BootCamp and using Windows that way or Parallels and VMware Fusion and using Windows within the Mac Boot have become an option in more recent times.


Written By EZ Jim

Made on Mac
Made on a Mac®

© 2005, 2006 EZ Jim
Updated September 2006

© 2005 Ralph Johns: Edited 24/9/2005, 5/5/2006
Updated September 2006. Moved to Gargoyles Mar 2007

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