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New and improved Webcams are now offering entrepreneurs a different way of looking at how they do business.

This story appears in the March 2002 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

A good videoconferencing system is worth its weight in plane tickets. Videoconferencing is a safe, time-saving and economical choice for entrepreneurs who are looking to cut down on business travel. Savings on hotel bills, meals and transportation costs can quickly add up to the price of a system. Even better, the technology has finally reached a level of quality and affordability that makes it a solid option for budget-conscious business owners who don't want to sacrifice a professional image.

Choosing a videoconferencing system is a lot like shopping for a computer, where you might look at an Apple, a PC, a laptop or a handheld PDA. With videoconferencing systems, there are many different varieties with different costs, features and requirements. Three popular videoconferencing hardware types are webcams, set-top devices and integrated systems. Webcams are generally consumer-level products, while set-top units and all-in-one appliances are stronger choices for professional use. Narrow down your options by considering the level of quality you need, the number of people you will have participating and, of course, your budget.

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