Best Video Conferencing Equipment

The recent news that Skype has started charging a fee for group videoconferencing may not have come as a surprise to anyone—after all, the company had clearly stated that it was planning to make the feature a pay service once Skype 5.0 exited beta. However, that doesn’t change the fact that one of the best multi-party videoconferencing options for OS X has suddenly disappeared behind a paywall.

Fear not, though. The intrepid Macworld staff has scoured the Internets to bring you five alternatives to Skype that will let you create a videoconference with your friends while still preserving the sanctity of your wallet. Some of the options are obvious ones, while others are a bit off the beaten path. In all cases, this article only focuses on applications and services that allow multiple users to be connected together in a videoconference, rather than just simple one-to-one conversations.


Let’s start with the choice that requires the least effort: iChat. Available on every Mac as part of the default OS X installation, iChat is not only great for one-on-one conversations using chat, audio, and video, but can also connect you and three others via video. If you own a copy of iLife, you can even use GarageBand to record your conferences and turn them into podcasts.

iChat’s only real downside is that it’s an OS X-only application, which means that you won’t be able to share the joy with your friends and colleagues running Windows and Linux.


is a multi-platform chat and conferencing application that allows users to interact in a number of ways: instant messaging, media sharing, and audio and video chat. It runs on OS X, Windows, Linux, and a variety of mobile devices, and supports videoconferencing between up to four computers.

While QNext is entirely free and supports text chatting with users of multiple networks like AIM and GTalk, it does have to be installed on the computer of each participant in order for a videoconference to take place.

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