Thursday, July 27, 2006

SightSpeed 5.0 - Good as it Gets for Video Calling

Yesterday, SightSpeed launched its latest release, 5.0. This is a really interesting company, and I've blogged about them before. The main news is how SightSpeed now enables you to access your PVR content or home TV signal from any broadband connection. So, it's like Slingbox, but with no hardware. It's very neat, and certainly makes video much more interesting for people on the go.

I've tried it a few times, and the quality is really great. Both audio and video are crystal clear, and there are hardly any delays in the imaging. You can see the other party - and yourself if you like - pretty much in real time. It makes for a very engaging experience, and after a while you totally forget about being on camera. It's also fun because you can move the camera around any time and you just keep talking. I was on with Peter Csathy yesterday - their CEO - for over an hour, and we took turns giving each other mini-guided tours of our offices. We looked at photos of each other's kids, the view from our windows, what's on our bookshelves, etc. Inane stuff like that, but it really takes the communications experience to a whole other level.

It doesn't take much to start dreaming up all the cool, fun things you can do. Oh, and the best part - it's free! How neat is that? Now, of course, they want you sign up to the $4.95/month plan - if you can afford it. Then you can make 2 minute video clips. So, with that plan, I could be giving you my 2 minute video blog, and I could start my own little Rocketboom. And of course, once this becomes your habit, you really won't have much need to go back to Skype or other VoIM services. You can just use SightSpeed for voice, and of course, cheap long distance for PSTN calling, just like Skype.

Well, I don't have the $4.95 plan, so the next best thing is to show you a picture. My oldest son, Max, was around, so he used my Nokia N90 to take this shot of Peter in full screen mode during our call. You can see the webcam in the upper left of the screen, and down in the bottom right corner you can see my image. And if you look closely, you can see Max being captured on video taking a picture of all this. Got that?


Peter commented how it was interesting to see how Skype announced its video features - Skype for Mac - with the Mac OS yesterday. Coincidence? It's pretty clear to Peter that the big players have Sightspeed on their radar now, and from all accounts, they have some catching up to do.

For a technical review, Tom Keating is the go-to guy for this release. Otherwise, Andy Abramson has a good summary of blogosphere coverage on his blog.

Hat tip to Alec Saunders for "The Sightspeed Guy" and his video clip summarizing what's new in this release. A bit corny, but a very user-friendly way to hear the basic story, especially if you haven't seen the news release.

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