I spent part of the weekend trying out the new SightSpeed build that I mentioned on Friday. WOW. There is so much more to this - it seemed like the more I looked, the more I found and the better it got. I have the feeling that this new build is the beginning of something much bigger, which we haven't heard about publicly yet. From public and private information and from my own investigation, I have found this much so far.
Video has been dramatically improved, including - are you ready for this - support in the paid subscription SightSpeed Business version for up to 9-way video calls! They have also improved the video quality and reliability. They will do up to 640x480 resolution, without limiting it to only three "anointed" webcams, and they have improved support for DV cameras as wll.
Audio has also been improved, across all platforms, and a new audio module specifically for Windows Vista has been added. I noticed the improved audio immediately when I was chatting with my brother, and he commented on how much better the echo cancellation was when I was using only the built-in microphone and speakers in my laptop, rather than a headset. This is a big deal for me, because while it is all well and good to say that audio quality is best when you use a headset, there are plenty of times when that is not practical, such as when you have more than one person on one end of the chat (i.e. my partner and I chatting with my brothers), and you simply have to use a separate microphone and speakers.
My favorite part of this release, though, is all of the little things that have been changed and improved. I'm a very detail-oriented person, and I tend to notice things that a lot of other people don't, or that they see and just shrug off. The fact that SightSpeed has noticed these things, and taken the time and effort to fix or improve them, indicates to me that their developers are paying attention, they care about their product down to the smallest details, and they are really trying to make it the best that they can for their users. Just a few of the things I noticed are:
- Graphics, Icons and buttons are visually nicer
- Much better, and more complete, controls for switching between the full video chat window, video only window, and full-screen video.
- Better information and statistics about calls in progress
- More flexibility in handling (or ignoring) hardware changes
I'm sure there is even more that I haven't seen yet.