Wow, what a week we had last week! It started first thing on Monday with an excellent new release from ooVoo, followed on Tuesday by Skype blundering through an attempt at a new release, and finally on Thursday Gizmo5 also made a very nice new release. Three in a week (well, two and a half since it is still not clear that Skype has gotten theirs out properly), you can't ask for much more than that!
The ooVoo release continues to please and impress me. I used it in a three-way video call with both of my brothers yesterday (I am in Switzerland, one of them is in Atlanta and one is in Colorado Springs), and it was simply excellent. Audio and video quality were consistently good through the entire 45 minute call.
I have also been quite pleased with the Gizmo5 release. It is a big improvement over their previous release in video quality and in overall performance and stability.
The Skype release... well, what can I say? Judging from what is posted on the Skype User Forums, it's still not clear that they have managed to get the new (.248) release consistently downloaded, some users are were still reporting getting .244 as recently as Saturday. Of, course, according to Skype, this is "not their fault" (nothing ever is), it's a problem with Firefox. It's odd that no one else in the world has this problem with Firefox, but it is typical. They have major problems with video, but it's "not their fault", it's the webcam drivers, or the video drivers, or something else... they have problems with audio, but it's "not their fault", it's the audio drivers, or interference from the webcam drivers, or something else... they even have problems with getting the application installed in the first place, but it's "not their fault", it's something wrong with the MSI installer, or Windows, or something else.
Even those who have been fortunate (?) enough to successfully download the new release have already started to report that the video problems aren't solved, they still get frozen video in, out or both, or missing video. One of the "experts" on the Skype User Forums has already said that the "splitcam" utility will still be needed in many cases with the new Skype release - in his words
"Splitcam will be the savior of Skype Video for a long time to come"
If anyone would like to pay him for this sterling advice, he is "accepting donations through PayPal". He doesn't mention if any of those "donations" will be shared with the developers of SplitCam, who seem to be becoming increasingly indispensable to Skype.
My friend Grant continues to discover nice things that I haven't come across yet, or haven't looked into. This week he sent me video messages from both ooVoo and SightSpeed, and both came through just fine. In both cases the messages were viewable in a browser, without having to install the application. This could also be quite useful for someone "on the run", who wants to send more than email, but isn't able to make an actual video call because of time difference, internet bandwidth or whatever.
I am in the process of preparing new computers for my partner and our best friends, and reloading a laptop for another friend. I can honestly say that for the first time I have the feeling that I can load a Video IM program for them, and not have to worry that they will be calling me every day and asking why it doesn't work. Well, unless I was silly enough to load Skype, of course, but I'm not that silly.