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I'm looking to hang a screen (with PC attached to it) in two geographically separate office locations, near the coffee machines. I want there to be a permanent video connection where two people in both locations could casually talk to one another. A webcam + Skype does not seem all that practical, given the (occasional) poor stability of Skype and the fact that one would have to setup a connection manually every morning. All should preferably be automatically started and should the connection fail, it should auto-recover. Does anyone have any suggestions what the best solution for this would be?

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If you want a reliable solution, you might want to try Cisco's video conferencing solutions.

Alternatively, you can try SIP soft-phones with video capability. There're are many free and paid solutions.

An older standard for this is H.323 and there are loads of software/hardware solutions based on this as well. Windows used to ship with NetMeeting which is a very nice H.323 client.

If you really want uninterruptable video streaming, you can try Windows Media Encoder, which is a free download form Microsoft. You'll have to set it up to stream the webcam on both ends. Because you're doing live video streaming, you don't have to worry about connections being dropped as the video players will automatically retry.

To make many of these work, you may also need a VPN connection between the two locations.

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