Online video communication services and videoconferencing have come a long way since the days of herky-jerky 15 frames-per-second sessions. Sightspeed, Skype, iChat and Tokbox are among many good, free services capable of delivering high-quality video online. This week, ooVoo released the newest version of its video chat service. The download is free, the sessions are of high quality, and the software lets you execute several kinds of special effects while you are video chatting.
With ooVoo you can have a real-time, face-to-face chat with someone else, or record and send a video message, and a new service gives you 120 minutes of free online calls to anywhere in the U.S. or Canada (this offer expires March 1st, though). The frame rate for your videoconferencing sessions is adjustable. I found the quality to be good at 30 frames per second, although there were very occasionally stutters. There weren’t any when I turned the frame rate down.
You can send files and text messages while you are in an ooVoo session, and a new Sidebar view, which looks a little like Google’s Sidebar, displays the people you are conferencing with in small format if you want to look at files or applications on your desktop during your session. If you want to actually share your desktops with conferencing participants, though, I would recommend using ooVoo’s Sidebar view in conjunction with a free, online desktop sharing application such as Yugma. You can video chat with up to six people at a time in ooVoo.
With ooVoo, you can import lists of contacts from many applications, including Yahoo!, Gmail, Hotmail, Windows Live Messenger, AOL Mail, Mac Mail, LinkedIn, and more. You can save video calls that you want to send to people in .FLV (Flash), or .AVI format, and I also liked the fact that you can save a video call as HTML embedded video, which could be good for, say, incorporating video in a blog.
My favorite service for video chatting and sharing videos I make with others remains SightSpeed, and the main thing I like about it is how easy it is to produce a video, post it online at 30 frames-per-second and share it with others by e-mailing them a link. However, ooVoo looks to be a good competitor, and I really liked the special effects you can execute with it, which let you morph your video image into customizable versions of yourself.
Do you recommend a particular videoconferencing service? If so, why?