If you’re really into a certain tool and use it to connect with someone, you should make sure they don’t work for a competing tool. That’s the lesson I learned Saturday night when I Skyped Scott Monty to see what he was up to. Scott, you see, works with ooVoo, a video chat and conferencing platform that probably has Skype scrambling to come up with something better.
So Scott sent me an invite and I logged on to ooVoo to check it out. I meant to join and watch some of the My ooVoo Day activity last month, but was tied up for various reasons. Knowing I’d get around to reviewing the platform for all of you, it fell on the list of things to do. Scott’s prompting shuffled it to the top.
And for the record, the first letter in “ooVoo” isn’t capitalized. The name is supposed to look like two pairs of eyes joined together by “V”ideo. Clever, eh?
What I discovered is that ooVoo takes Skype to a new level, then adds on a handful of features to sweeten the deal. Here are the highlights:
- You can video chat with anyone on ooVoo for free.
- You can have group chats/video conferences with up to six people at once, also free.
- You can call any phone number in the U.S. and Canada for free up to 500 minutes during an introductory period. It appears that period ends this week, though, so sign up now and call your mother from your webcam. She’ll get a kick out of it.
- You can record any call, video or otherwise, in its entirety, for free.
- You can send video messages up to 60 seconds long to anyone with an email account.
- Like Skype, you can supplement your video or audio sessions with chat for link sharing, etc.
- You can also share files up to 25MB in size with your contacts.
Now think for a minute of the possibilities. As project lead you get your legal, marketing, business development, sales and finance gang on a video conference to go over the week’s assignments. You pop them copies of your 25-page PowerPoint deck via file share while the conference is going on, send hyperlinks to a few articles you found they should read via the chat session, pipe in your print vendor via phone to speak to the gang for a few minutes, then go over action items and take aways both verbally and with a written file shared at the end of the call. And you record the whole thing. All of this is done from your laptop at home for the grand total price of $0.00. That recording will come in handy next week when Sheila from marketing claims to have not heard the instruction to call the caterer for the dinner. Rewind â€¦ Play â€¦ Your fault.
And that’s just one use.
I’ve been researching several items for a side project lately that is better documented by call recording. With ooVoo, I can record my phone calls or even video chats without having to pay extra for a service to do so. On Skype, you have to find a third-party software for this and most of them charge a subscription fee. With ooVoo, I can then pull the recordings for supplemental multimedia for blog posts or even podcasts at a later date, creating the Jetson’s version of footnoting.
ooVoo has also recently partnered with Quanta to develop a plug and play version of video chat in high definition. So, you and your kids can all gather round the 55-inch Sony in the living room, sing Grandma “Happy Birthday” and see every crevice of her coffee-stained teeth as she smiles with glee in the process. Of course, she’ll be able to see your son picking his nose in amazing clarity on the other end as well, so go over the HDTV web cam rules with the kiddos a couple times before.
Surprisingly enough, all of the above isn’t the VC pitch, it’s real, live and available, though the HDTV part is still in the works. Just go to oovoo.com to download and get started.
But it can’t all be gits and shiggles, right? Right. Technology is grand when perfect. Which is to say it’s mostly okay.
Scott and I connected instantly but spent the better part of five minutes watching pixelated, grainy video, hearing the occasional sound from one another and chatting via ooVoo’s IM function before we could fully connect. That was accomplished only after we both turned off our video streams and went audio only and I stopped a batch upload of images to Flickr. Ultimately, we figured out since I was on a wireless connection and using up bandwidth during my uploads, the video and audio streams were maxed out. Once I shut down the uploads we were able to have an audio chat just fine. Will Murphy even joined us a few minutes in and, while there was an occasional delay or hiccup, the three-way phone call went well and we had a nice time catching up.
Monty verified that software running concurrently that uses a lot of memory or bandwidth, and trying to do too much over wireless connections can negatively effect ooVoo’s performance. Sure, that’s logical and expected, but we never really got the video working together with the audio. Still, I’ve had video chats on Skype before that had similar issues.
And the video messaging works well except for the annoying audio-video synchronization issue you get with a lot of webcam recordings. Bandwidth, processor speeds, audio and video hardware and other factors all play a part, but the one video message I sent Saturday night went through with a mismatch in the presentation. It was extremely cool, however, to record a one-minute video (instructions, reminders, birthday greeting, look at my new tattoo) and send it to anyone with an email address. The recipient clicks on a link that goes to a video player on ooVoo’s website and they don’t have to be a member of ooVoo to see it.
Other issues surfaced in my research as well. Turns out
the while the developers originally approached the platform, which was launched in June of 2007, with no plans forÂ but a Mac version and one wasn’t available until recently. (Note: Strike thrus corrected 4/1/08 after facts corrected by ooVoo officials. My apologies for the oversight.) Will, who was using his Mac Book Pro with the built-in camera and mic and was on a wireless connection, reported no issues. As I understand it, however, the Mac version isn’t quite as robust at the PC download.
At the end of the day, ooVoo can be a powerful connection tool for individuals or businesses. And to further illustrate how much potential I think this software has, my first item of business Monday is presenting it to IT to see how quickly I can start conferencing clients.
Disclosure: Scott Monty and I are friends. He did not ask me to blog about ooVoo and only pitched the platform to me when I dialed him up on Skype. The conversation started with him just giving me crap for not using the competing ooVoo platform he works with. I’m glad he showed it to me.
Other Posts You’ll Find Interesting:
- What Is An ooVoo?
- Can ooVoo Succeed? No!
- ooVoo Has Big Potential
- Do We Need Video As A Communications Tool?
- Stay Connected From Your Small Town
IMAGE: My silly snap shot of Monty and me talking.[tags]oovoo, video chat, video conferencing, VOIP, on-line communications tools[/tags]
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