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Innovation

Logitech Vid - SightSpeed Rebranded and Dumbed Down

A few weeks ago we saw the announcement of Logitech's new video chat software, based on their acquisition of SightSpeed last year. I have now downloaded and installed it, and tried to test it.
Written by J.A. Watson, Contributor on

A few weeks ago we saw the announcement of Logitech's new video chat software, based on their acquisition of SightSpeed last year. I have now downloaded and installed it, and tried to test it. My first impression is less than stellar.

First, "Vid" requires that at least one of the participants in a video chat be using a Logitech camera. Given my well known preference for Philips webcams, that is a significant problem for me. They do give you 30 days "grace", during which you can use any camera, but I suppose that at the end of that time you either have to buy a Logitech camera, or you are left out in the cold. It seems to me that this whole policy leaves a lot of unanswered questions; for example, if I don't have a Logitech camera, but I want to chat with someone who does, can I make the call or do they have to call me? There are plenty of other scenarios that I can think of which are equally unclear. Sigh.

Second, Logitech has removed the multi-way video chat, so Vid is strictly one-to-one. In my opinion this was always one of SightSpeed's strongest points, and taking that away pushes Vid well down the preference list.

Third, I discovered the hard way that if you have previously registered with SightSpeed, you will not be able to register using the same email address with Vid. That doesn't make a lot of sense to me, since I don't see any indication that the two can cross-communicate or otherwise share contact information. I assume that the majority of people have only one email address, so this is going to cause a lot of problems - or simply cause a lot of people to give up on Vid.

Fourth, Vid literally forces you to let it take a picture that will be included in your profile. LOTS of people I know have good reasons not to want their picture include in a public profile, so short of holding a stuffed animal in front of the camera, I guess you would be forced to find another way around this requirement. To be honest, I lost interest and gave up on Vid before I got around to investigating this further.

Finally, even after I had managed to get everything else installed, registered and configured, I had a lot of trouble making a test call between two computers here in my house. It seemed that I could call in one direction, but not in the other, but I couldn't figure out why. Oddly, the one which could not originate the call was the one with a built-in Logitech cam, while the other had a Philips camera.

At that point I just basically said "enough is enough", and gave it up. If they come up with a new, improved release, I'll probably give it another try, because I really did like SightSpeed...

There is one other case that could change my mind. Shortly before they were taken over, SightSpeed announced a Linux version, which was supposed to be available on Dell laptops preloaded with Linux, and was promised to be generally available "real soon". Then they got taken over by Logitech, and it looks like the Linux version vanished. If Logitech should get smart, and bring out a Vid for Linux, I would jump on that in an instant. I'm not holding my breath... but I am at least keeping my fingers crossed!

jw 14/7/2009

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