Webcams are everywhere these days: they're standard on a lot of laptops, LCD monitors are starting to incorporate them, and decent standalone USB webcams can be had for less than $40. In this two-part series we'll set up a Webcam on Linux, and then use it to perform a number of amazing and fun tasks.
You won't get television-quality video with an inexpensive Webcam; you'll get small fuzzy herky-jerky. But it's acceptable herky-jerky. A low-end Webcam typically supports 15 frames per second at 320 x 240 pixels. For comparison, movies run at 24 fps. Spending a bit more money will get you some silky smooth video. One example is the Logitech QuickCam Pro 9000. For $99.99 you get a built-in microphone, autofocus, good-quality optics, 30 frames per second, and high-quality video capture size up to 960 x 720 pixels.