SAN FRANCISCO (03/21/2000) - If you want to broadcast first-rate, live video from your Web site, try Inetcam Inc.'s VTS 8500 Color Video Transmission System. At $430, it costs more than most Webcams, but it also includes a second camera, packs more features, and produces better-looking video.
The VTS 8500 acts as a self-contained system for sending full-color live video over the Net on a Windows 95/98, NT, or 2000 PC. It includes software, cabling, two analog color cameras, a video switcher that supports four cameras, and a power supply for the switcher. You must supply the video capture device.
Inexpensive Webcams perform poorly at distances beyond 30 feet, but Inetcam claims its Webcam will deliver good-quality video to the host PC across hundreds of feet of cable.
I tested the VTS 8500 on a P-200 system with 64MB of RAM, using an ATI All-in-Wonder graphics card as the video capture device. I put the two cue ball-size cameras on their stands, mounted them to the switcher via the included 10-foot-long category-5 cables, and linked the switcher to the PC's serial port and the ATI card's video-in port. The switcher software handled the cameras; a video-streaming app set up the Web broadcast. Inetcam offers ample guidance, but the software features took time to figure out.
You may broadcast on your own Web site, using the video-streaming software, or let Inetcam's site host your videocast. Visitors can view your video stream in any Java-enabled browser--and people who use Java-less browsers can see it as a series of JPEG stills.
My cousin in New Jersey marveled at the excellent quality of the images I transmitted from my California home with the VTS 8500. This system is well worth its price for anyone who wants to transmit high-grade video over the Internet.
Double vision: Inetcam's color Web video system has two cameras.
VTS 8500 Color Video Transmission SystemPro: Great image quality, extensive broadcasting controls.
Con: Expensive, software takes time to master.
Value: Top-quality color Webcam kit justifies its premium price.
Street price: $430