Webcams have many practical uses. You can check for traffic backups, current weather, snow levels, surf quality, haziness (no view today means no hike today). But mostly webcams are entertaining and fun.
So how can webcams save you money? For one thing, the time you spend fiddling around and enjoying them is time you don’t spend at box stores, malls, and restaurants (and any time spent away from these black holes of consumerism is time well spent indeed). For another thing, in combination with services like Netflix, Hulu, RedBox, YouTube, and your local library, webcams add another layer of video content that helps you ditch expensive cable or satellite subscriptions forever. On average, these cost American households a whopping $1,032 per year.
One last benefit of spending a few leisure hours with webcams: when you use controllable cameras, you interact with the video content actively instead of consuming it passively. This works your brain out a bit more than simply watching another Green Acres rerun.
There’s a webcam for every taste. Check some out this weekend:
1. Dublin Bar Cam. Hoist a pint of porter at home as you people-watch from your perch just outside The Temple Bar.
2. Geddy’s in Bar Harbor Maine. This controllable webcam lets you view the harbor, the sidewalks, and a nearby park. Is it a good day for kayaking in Acadia National Park? Check out the weather, wind, and even the surf—ayuh!
3. Animal Planet Too Cute Kitten Cam. Watch the ongoing antics of several lively kittens. Includes sound!
4. Telluride Webcam. Main Street is a hopping place at any one of Colorado’s great ski towns. This interactive site lets you zoom in on several views.
5. Fresh Air, Times Square. Visit a live video feed that features as many pixels as there are New Yorkers—and never leave the farm.
6. Abbey Road Crossing Webcam. Tourists pose while impatient drivers honk. No Beatles in sight.
If the short list above contains nothing you fancy or if you’re interested in seeing even more, run a Google search for “webcam” and your favorite locations. Odds are, an online video stream stands watch. Or check out a webcam aggregator. The best collection I’ve found appears at EarthCam.com. This site collects high-quality cameras at diverse locations such as Myrtle Beach, SC, the Statute of Liberty, Washington, DC, and Gettysburg, PA. For an even more select list, visit EarthCam’s 25 Most Interesting Webcams of 2012.