A/V Multichats Specs
This can be done over Dial-up if you have a 56k modem.
You can Audio chats in groups of you and 9 Buddies if they are using iChat 3 or 4.
If you are invited to a Group Audio chat you will find the Audio Chat window will drop down to show you the contacts involved. However the Connection Doctor will only show the Bitrate for you an the Host.
If you are Host and did the Inviting then the Connection Doctor will show you the Bitrates of all the Buddies involved.
Only the Host can add more people.
This can be done only on a "Broadband" connection of Cable, ADSL or Fibre Internet Services of at least 384k in both Up and Down directions to be a Host.
Well that is the lowest spec quoted by Apple on the speed. In practice as ADSL speeds are faster Down than Up there does seem to be a practical averaging appearence to things as in the past I manged to Host with a 1Mb Down and 256k Up service but pictures at 3rd and 4th Buddies got increasingly blurry but passable.
Also important is that the Specs of your computer have to be higher than for iChat 2 to be able to Multi-chat in Video even if you are not the Host. Effectively they go up again if you are Host. The Apple Specs are here
To be clear plain old 1-1 chats can be done with anything that is a G3/600Mghz or above. To join a 4 way Video chat it takes at least a Dual G4/800Mghz computer. To Host takes at least a Dual G4/1Ghz Computer such as my MIrrored Door tower of nearly 6 years of age.
The Specs are also graded into Good, Better and Best but this is Processor AND Internet Speed dependent
. What it does not say is that it is also largely Camera dependent as well. A really good picture form a Camcorder over a Firewire connection or the External iSight (which is Firewire) will produce better pictures to start with.
What a Video Multi-Chat Invite looks like
This is what you see as a Buddy add a third Buddy.
If you are the Host then the Right hand panel is where the Buddy is added.
Where as this picture sats the Buddy invited someone your Hosting one will have the Waiting and Starting messages across the center of the Spotlight area.
If they do not answer in a certain time the Spotight will close.
If you wish to end with one Buddy as Host then mouse over their Video and then click the Red Cross that appears.
If they end the chat at their end the Video will fold back to Single view.
You will find that the Mirroring of your normal picture is somewhat carried over to the layout of a 4 way chat so that people will appear to point to each other in the same way you see them like a News Reader turning to the weather person. You are displayed as if sat around a 4 sided table.
So the person to your left is to the right of the person you have opposite you (above your Preview in the 4 way chat window). It does not take long to indicate the correct person and remember to point downwards when indicating the person opposite. The picture above was sent to me by the Host of the Chat which is why I am off to one side.
If your camera is high enough it can be amusing with new 4 way buddies to pass a cup in front of your camera as if to palce it on the table top.