Finally, something that works!
A friend recently got himself a new Mac Powerbook, which comes with a built-in video camera and video software. He emailed asking to try a video conference, and I emailed him back with the web address for SightSpeed which has a free desktop video client available for both the Mac and Windows. We installed it on our respective machines and had it up and running in a jiffy.
It worked well. I’m in Vermont on a cable modem, he’s in Pennsyvania on a DSL line connecting through his wireless router. We got what I would rate as 24 frame-per-second video, with no visible artifacts, and fully synchronized sound with flawless echo-cancellation even though we were both using external speakers. Our call went on for more than a half hour; and we talked about a lot of other things other things besides videoconferencing.
This is how it should work. When was the last time that you spent more than a minute of a telephone call talking about the phone call? (unless it was a bad cell-phone connection). The technology “fell away”… and we didn’t have to think about it. Not bad for a first call.
Of interest, then, was the quality of the second call….which was to the SightSpeed tech support people. The guy I got was located in Chicago. This call still had good video and audio, but it broke up several times..probably from a slow internet connection. But then I had already been spoiled by the quality of the first call. This call was still better than anything desktop video I had experienced, with exception of the Polycom PVX software talking to a Polycom room unit.
Like Skype, SightSpeed appears to be a closed system; it will be interesting to see if there will be any way to open it up, and connect to other SIP-based end points.
There has been a lot of buzz about SightSpeed. I think they are on to something.