Logitech Vid HD
When you think of Logitech Vid, think of an easier-to-use version of Skype with superior quality. The most salient reason for the ease of use verdict comes from the simple fact that you choose people to chat with by their e-mail and a photo they take when they sign up, not some potentially obscure screen name. There's also a simple but intuitive onscreen interface.
To test the service, I set up both my main PC and my laptop with the service. After signing up for a Vid account, the first thing you're asked to do is pose for the aforementioned photo that will accompany your profile. Vid automatically recognized the Webcams and mics on both my machines, though I had to increase the volume a skosh on the PC. There aren't a huge number of settings to tweak either: automatic answering of calls, noise reduction, devices, and volume settings. That's a good thing as Vid is trying (and succeeding) to make video calling easier. In short, setup was a breeze.
Vid leverages the SightSpeed technology it bought a while back. It doesn't retain the SightSpeed client's ability to conference 9 people, but it does preserve SightSpeed's audio/video quality. Admittedly, I was testing the service on a very fast cable connection, but I also tested Skype on that connection--and Vid's quality was noticeably better.
Logitech Vid is simple to use, and it's free for anyone who owns a Logitech Webcam of any vintage or has a Logitech Webcam owner on their list. You may also try Vid with another company's WebCam for 30 days, however, after that you'll have to buy a Logitech device or make friends with someone who has one to keep on keepin' on.
Editor's note: If you're already a SightSpeed user, the e-mail address you use for that account will be listed as taken; you'll need to sign up for Logitech Vid with a different e-mail address.
Note: This link takes you to the vendor's site, where you can download the latest version of the software appropriate to your system.
--Jon L. Jacobi