For example, Facebook's Skype and Apple's i Sight video calling services are sometimes called video chat.

However, true video chat is more like text chat, whereby one party sends a message and waits for a reply.

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If ever a phenomenon supported the notion that 90 percent of erotic pleasure lies in the brain, it is certainly sex by computer, which is essentially masturbation to the video equivalent of telephone sex.

And despite the gasping pleasure that the characters experience while swapping fantasies, watching ''On Line'' is a dispiriting experience that leaves you with a nagging ''Is that all there is? Soft-core autoeroticism (no genitals are displayed) is about as compelling a screen spectacle as the sight of someone going to the bathroom.

The controls are simple – set volume, mute or kill camera.

If the person is not there, you can leave a video message. If you enable browser popups you can pull the video chat out of the browser and go to other websites or applications without disrupting the conversation.

It allows you to set up a video chat channel in seconds.

It instantly and accurately detected the camera and microphone on my Mac laptop after registration.But the movie, which evokes its characters' isolation with skillfully deployed split-screen techniques, unconsciously parallels the unreality of their love lives by attaching its technologically savvy concept to the hokiest of plots. And one character lands in the hospital after an accidental overdose. Along with its sleaze, the movie flaunts the cheery live-and-learn attitude of an after-school special.As these people collide (or make plans to meet) in real life, their fragile emotions explode. ''On Line'' is rated R (Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian) for many scenes of soft-core sex.The movie, which opens today in New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco, imagines what would happen if a group of cybersex devotees -- some of them in it for the money, others kinky exhibitionists and still others forlorn fantasists desperate for a relationship -- tore themselves away from their computers and experimented with face-to-face contact.The narrator, John Roth (Josh Hamilton), is a nervous urban recluse with an uncomfortable resemblance to Anthony Perkins in ''Psycho'' (right down to the sunken, shifty eyes) who runs an erotic Web site called Intercon-X with his studly roommate and business partner, Moe Curley (Harold Perrineau).The movie's mechanical, wildly implausible plot imagines what might happen when the players in this lonely game recognize one another off-line (most seem to live in the same neighborhood) and establish a shaky chain of connections and betrayals.