Skype Video Review

Rating:  3 WaterTowers (where is multipoint?)

UPDATE: Skype now has multipoint (meaning three or more participants can meet) see my Skype Multipoint blog entry.

It took me awhile to get to Skype.  Not sure why, but, I’m glad I finally tested it.

The Verdict: I will use Skype as my main videoconferencing connection in the TracyVirtualOffice (now AltamontCowork).  I still have the Polycom PVX as the standards-based H.323 connection, but, I am using it less and less and….hmmmm, Skype (at least so far) is free.  Can’t beat that!

🙂

Before you read further, here is a really quick video I took of me (the only one of my friends brave, or dumb, enough to be on YouTube) calling the TracyVirtualOffice Patio computer.

Really Quickly

Skype rocks, but, it needs multipoint.

I used version 4.1.0.141 and have it loaded on my trusty, 3 year old, Toshiba laptop and on the new emachines (Vista) desktop in the TracyVirtualOffice Patio.

We have screaming fast Comcast Business Internet.

Moving up! 🙂

My Deeper Thoughts (feel free to comment)

Re H.323 for the “masses”: The king is dead.  Long live the king.

Well H.323 is not really dead, but, you get the idea, maybe….ah….read on.

Except in the corporate world where high definition is the thing, I believe, now, that the standards-based H.323 videoconferencing market may not reach the masses as I, many years ago, had hoped would happen.

Don’t get me wrong, videoconferencing will still be a mass market (not counting corporate, education, telemedicine where it is doing very well thank you) success, but, the new king of videoconferencing for the masses may be (already is?) the Internet-based free (or very low cost) applications using a computer (laptop, network, cell phone, or desktop) and a web cam (built in or added).

And now, I’m on board in a big way.

Yes, I will continue to test the high end products and applications, yes, I will continue to use my Polycom PVX or Mirial Softphone to connect to my friends in the corporate world, but, moving forward, I am now a Skype user and everyone who crosses paths with me will know it.

Too bad it does not have multipoint….arrrghhh.

Prediction (?): There might be a time when these applications supplant the systems (high definition, standard definition and telepresence) in the corporate world….ohhh, did I say that?  Hmmmm, yup.

Talking with my friend Tom the other day (via Skype) there is one thing that I am still looking forward to in the home, but it is not here yet.  HD videoconferencing on your HDTV (I talked about it briefly in my “Ruminations” presentation, I called it VCTV).  THAT would be super cool and could move the standards-based stuff back into the limelight for the home-based masses.

But, that won’t happen anytime soon (sure wish it would, though) so in the next 10 years or so, before VCTV happens….Skype and others will rule, and, I see cell phone videoconferencing booming, just think of the applications…..

Videoconferencing, the commodity, is almost upon us and the ability to meet from anywhere, at anytime, with anyone is a very powerful driver for mass adoption.

Installation

Downloading and installing Skype is a breeze. The hardest part for me was adding contacts since most people I know still do not use it.  But, a few have surfaced (even though some work for videoconferencing vendors) and I have a small list of contacts now.

Skype works on Windows (I have it on Vista and XP), and the Mac. It was easy to set up and personalize.  Maybe not for someone who is severely computer-challenged, but, for the ordinary computer user, it rocks.

Some Skype Settings (and Me)

Some Skype Settings (and Me)

Features

The list is soooooooo long, I dare not get into all of them here.  Here are a few, with some that surprised me (like full screen presentation!).

  • It is free (well, at least for now, not sure how long that will last)
  • The video and audio quality are great ( I can use it in the TVO as a conference room system….yup, it is that good.)
  • You can share your desktop or a portion of your desktop (if you pull up a Powerpoint, the called pary can make it full screen…the quality is awesome!, see pic below)
  • Full screen video and presentation is awesome (the quality of the video at full-screen is very good, see pic below).
  • File transfer (although it was painfully slow, I sent a 37 k file and it took nearly a minute).
  • Chat capability (Skype calls it IM)
  • It has call statistics (for the nerd in you)
  • You can send your contacts to the called party and they can add them to their list of contacts
  • You can play games with remote players (I have not tried this yet)
  • There are a zillion other options, many of which are for a fee (not free).  When you download Skype, you will see.

Some Screen Shots and Pictures

Calling someone is easy.  If they are on your contact list, just click on them and then again on “video call”.  Here are some screen shots and pics I took over the course of several calls.

Jay working hard in the TracyVirtualOffice

Jay working hard in the TracyVirtualOffice

Full Screen Presentation

Full Screen Presentation

Full Screen Video

Full Screen Video

Some Games You Can Download

Some Games You Can Download

Summary

If you use Skype to connect with family, friends, or even at work….you will not go wrong.

Call us at:  tracyvirtualoffice1  (just tell us who you are so I can filter)

Did I say Skype needs multipoint?

😉

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About Mike Pihlman

I am the Director of ForCarol.com a 501c3 non-profit that awards college scholarships to Tracy, CA scholars in honor of my daughter's best friend, and our part-time daughter, Carol Phan who we lost on Sept 18, 2010. I am a: Book Review (TracyReaderDad.com), Technology (TechyMike.com), and Movie Review (ForCarol.com) blogger.

Posted on November 5, 2010, in Product Reviews, VideoConferencing and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. Skype is one example where the technology of accessibility becomes accessible to all. If it is free then the only obstruction is if someone at one end or the other does not have a computer with internet. The possibilities for improving and changing people’s lives with telepresence technology are limitless and the excitement about these innovations felt by many (including the author) is understandable.

  1. Pingback: Skype Multipoint Video Chat | TelBitConsulting Technical Blog

  2. Pingback: Videoconferencing in 2011 | TelBitConsulting Technical Blog

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