It didn’t take long for me to download the update and start playing with it. The first test proved to be pretty much trouble free. I tested it over WiFi, but it is supported over 3G as well. The quality of the video wasn’t the greatest but was acceptable. Once in a while the audio dropped, but that can happen any time you are trying to use the internet to transmit voice.
It requires iOS 4.0 and only works on the iPhone 4, iPhone 3GS and 4th generation iPod touch. You can use the front or rear facing camera. Of course, since the iPhone 3GS only has a rear facing camera, you are somewhat limited when using that device. It kind of works on the iPad as well. I know, you are saying “wait a minute, the iPad doesn’t have any camera.” You are right. When using it with the iPad, it only receives video. I tried this out as well and it works as promised. You can see the other party but all they see is themselves. I guess if you are the one with the iPad it would be OK but the other guy is stuck looking and himself for the entire call.
While I don’t see myself using this everyday, I do think it will cause me to use Skype to communicate with my family when I am on the road. The best thing is that to make a call you don’t do anything that much different than you do to make a normal call. I think that is the key to bringing things like video calls to the main stream. It seems that people aren’t willing to do anything extra to make a video call. If they can make a call the way they normally do and it has video, great – they will most likely use it. But if they have to connect to the internet, get the camera working and then load software, they are just going to pick up the phone instead. Creating cool technology isn’t enough, you have to make it easy to use and Skype for the iPhone does just that.]]>
There are many products out on the market that promise to bring families that are spread across the world into each other’s living room. These products range from the simple and free to the rather extravagant and somewhat costly. This article looks at three such products that are designed for home use and available today. If you hurry, maybe you can have one ready for the big party tomorrow.
Let’s start with the product that offers the highest quality experience. It’s the Cisco umi. It is a device that hooks up to your HD TV and provides up to 1080p video. The quality is quite nice, but it comes with a price. First off, the device is going to set you back about $600.00. That’s just for your end. Whoever you plan on talking with is also going to have to shell out $600.00 for their unit. There is also a monthly fee of $25.00. So after the first year, the cost for two units and the service is going to be just under two grand. For that kind of money you had better plan on using it more than Thanksgiving and Christmas. Oh, and one more thing, those family members of yours that live out in the country most likely won’t be able to use this product since it requires 1.5 Mbps both ways. Speaking from personal experience, that isn’t something many of us out in the country can get.
If the umi is a little more than you are looking for, you might want to consider the Logitech TV Cam. It sits on your TV and allows you to make video calls to other TV Cams or anyone that has PC and web cam. It can deliver up to 720p video, this quality requires 1 Mbps so it still might be beyond the reach of some DSL users. It only costs $149.00 and there is no monthly fee, but there is a catch. You have to have the Logitech Revue unit as well. The Revue is Logitech’s Google TV device. This will cost you another $299.00 so you are looking at about $450.00 dollars for the complete setup. I have seen bundle packages for around $400.00
That brings us to the product that has been used by millions for a number of years - Skype. It doesn’t promise 1080p video and it doesn’t hook up to your TV (well not easily anyway). But if you have a PC, webcam, and pretty much any broadband internet service, it will set you back a grand total of zero dollars. The best part is that you don’t have to go to the store to buy it. You just go to skype.com and download the software.
So there you have it. Three ways to be together for the holidays when you can’t be together. If you are spending the holidays with family or friends or this year has found you by yourself, I’d like to wish all of you a very Merry Christmas!]]>
I used this new feature today for a business call. I knew I was taking some chances, but figured it would be a good way to run it through the paces. The person I called asked what the load noise was that he heard while answering the phone. I didn’t hear it, but I assume it was some type of audio setup glitch. A few minutes later he mentioned that he heard a little bit of echo. I plugged headphones in and he said the echo went away.
There seemed to be a faint buzz on the call, but after a few minutes I stopped noticing it. At one point during the call the audio stuttered for a few seconds, but that may have been a processing problem on my end. For the most part, the call worked fine and since cell phones have done such a good job of lowering expectations when it come to call quality, I was pretty pleased with the experience.
If you have a Google voice account, this feature is tied to it. This allows you to retrieve your Google voice call history and your Google voice number is sent as the Caller ID. If you don’t have a Google voice account, the feature still works fine. In my testing it sent a 760 area code number as the caller ID.
All in all it is a pretty cool feature, but since it currently works only on a PC, I will most likely just keep using Skype from my iPhone.]]>
Jing is one of these services. There is a paid and a free version of this service. The free one is adequate for most personal needs. Jing not only let’s you capture screen shots, but you can record a video of your screen and even include narration.
Jing is pretty intuitive. When you run it, a small yellow dome appears at the top of the screen (Figure 1).
When you mouse over this dome, it expands to show three options (Figure 2).
The one furthest to the left is the one you will use the most. This allows you to start capturing. When you click it, cross-hairs appear on your screen which you use to select the portion of the screen you wish to capture. Once you select the area to capture, a tool bar appears (Figure 3) which allows you to choose whether you want to capture a screen shot or video.
Once the capture is complete, you can do minor editing and then choose to save it locally or “Share via Screencast.com” (Figure 4). If you choose to share it via Screencast, a URL will be place in the clipboard and you can paste it to any application such as an email or IM client.
So, what could be better than being able to capture a screenshot or video of an application in order to show someone how to do something? How about being able to share you screen in real time? I am sure you have heard of at least one product that does this, such as WebEx or GoToMeeting. These are great, but they aren’t free. If you are willing to forgo some of the bells and whistles, there are some free products that offer this service. The one I am going to mention today may already be installed on your PC. Have you ever heard of Skype? That’s right. Skype allows you to share your screen with another Skype user. I guess if there is any catch that would be it; both parties need to have it installed. Beyond that, it pretty much just works. Once you have setup the Skype call, just click the Call menu and select “Share Your Screen” (Figure 5).
So there you have it, a few more tools that may come in handy next time you are trying to help someone remotely.]]>