I bought a Logitech QuickCam Communicate STX webcam last week. I always thought webcams were gimmicky and useless. But in one week using with friends and family, I now think they are useful.
So, the take home message is get a webcam.
Webcams still in their infancy
Webcam image quality is probably better than it has ever been but still not quite the HD, big-screen we've seen on the Enterprise and in the White House situatuon room.
For now, the webcam feels like the original telephones that were kept in a special room and you had to walk over there to place a call. Ultimately, when our home communication/entertainment system is unified, we'll be able to make video calls from our sofa.
Use your webcam as a security camera
Webcams have additional uses beyond video conferencing with your family. I found an excellent guide and free software that lets me use my wired webcam as a security camera. Your computer and Internet must always be on to do this. (Although I think wireless webcams can connect directly to your router/modem and you don't need a computer.)
Using your webcam and the free Dorgem software, your webcam takes photos if it detects movement. These still images can be saved to your computer and/or uploaded to your website using your FTP login username and password. (Uploading the images to your website folder allows you to see what's going on at home when you are away and can give you an alternate set of the digital photos of the thief who is about to steal your computer.)
So, if you have a webcam (and, optionally, a web host), follow these straightforward instructions to learn how to make your webcam into a security cam. I tried it and it works.