How to Make Another Person's Webcam Clearer in Skype

by Dan Stone

Incoming Skype video calls may appear blurry if your computer or network is overloaded or not powerful enough to handle the program. Video calls send substantial amount of data over the Internet and require a broadband connection to have a clear image. To maintain functionality with slower connections and hardware, Skype can scale down incoming video quality to keep it running in real time at the cost of a blurry image.

Insufficient Internet Bandwidth

If your Internet connection is under the speed recommendation, you'll have a difficult time getting a clear incoming image. The solution is to upgrade to a faster Internet service. According to Skype, your Internet service should have at least a speed of 0.5 megabits per second incoming and outgoing to display a high-quality video call. The minimum speed is almost 10 times faster than a dial-up connection. The connection speed recommendation jumps to 1.5Mbps for high-definition video and 8Mbps for a group conference of seven or more people. The insufficient bandwidth problem can also come up if you're sharing an Internet connection with other users. Sending and receiving bandwidth is allocated differently, so if someone else on the network is doing something bandwidth-heavy like streaming an HD movie, your outgoing video is fine, but your incoming video might be choppy and blurry.

Wi-Fi Signal Strength

You may be getting blurry incoming video over Skype if you have a weak wireless signal. When you have a weak signal, network data moves slower and is more often lost in the transfer. Weak signal isn't a big problem when browsing websites or streaming video because the computer doesn't have to load pages in real-time and can buffer content in advance to maintain quality. Since Skype calls are in real time the computer can only buffer the the video feed a split-second in advance: it's more prone to quality problems from lost or slow data. You can work around a weak Wi-Fi signal by moving the computer closer to the Wi-Fi access point or upgrading the network.

Overloaded Computer Problems

High-quality video playback can be demanding on computer hardware. If your computer is doing a lot of other work during a Skype call, it might not be able to keep up with the video feed and display a low-quality image. According to Skype, your computer may also have video quality problems if it has a slower than 1.8-Ghz CPU, less than 64MB of video memory and less than 512MB of system memory. Close programs or upgrade the computer to work around this issue.

Problems on the Other Side

If the incoming video itself is bad there's nothing you can do on your end other than suggest the person on the other end of the call make some changes. A low-quality, low-resolution webcam can't produce a clear image. Additionally, too much or too little light can result in a blurry image, so you can suggest that the other person adjust the room lighting to work around the issue.

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About the Author

Dan Stone started writing professionally in 2006, specializing in education, technology and music. He is a web developer for a communications company and previously worked in television. Stone received a Bachelor of Arts in journalism and a Master of Arts in communication studies from Northern Illinois University.

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