The BlackBerry folks proudly announced the Video Chat app for its PlayBook tablet this week, and users were delighted to find it appear in the BlackBerry App World shortly after. Today I got a chance to put the video calling to the test, and am duly impressed with how good it is.
The PlayBook Video Chat app is free in the App World and can make audio and video calls to other PlayBook users once their BlackBerry ID email address is manually entered into the contact list. Calls are easily started by tapping the contact in the list, and only take a few seconds to connect.
To test the app I made several video calls to colleague Jason Perlow of Tech Broiler (the handsome guy in the screen snap above) and we were both impressed with the quality of both the audio and video in the calls. The entire 7-inch screen of the PlayBook is used to show the other party during calls, with a small window in the corner of the screen displaying your own video. During the test calls we experienced consistent quality from start to finish, with no glitches commonly seen in other products.
It is possible to toggle between the front and back cameras on the PlayBook during a call by tapping the screen which shows a menu at that bottom of the screen, and then tapping the camera icon. Jason was able to read a Tweetdeck screen displayed by the rear camera on my PlayBook when we tested it, as the quality was good.
Jason and I wanted to test the app using real mobile settings, so one of the calls was made over LTE on my end of the call. I used the Droid Charge as a mobile hotspot and connected using this for a video call. We were not able to detect any difference in either video or audio quality during this call compared to the other calls using fast broadband. I was particularly impressed to see no audio/video sync issues using this app, compared to other methods I have used.
It is fair to say that Jason and I were both duly impressed with the quality of the calls using the PlayBooks and the Video Chat app. This could be a viable method for business video calls, as the experience is both good and consistent throughout the calls.