Monday, December 8, 2008

Skype vs. SightSpeed

Isaac and I used to use windows messenger for video and voice chat but were annoyed by horrible video and sound quality. You basically saw a bunch of random jumpy images and heard about every 3 words so you had to try to figure out what they were trying to say.
So then we decided to try something new. We tried a few different programs and Skype was one of them. Skype totally beat the others, at the time.
Relatively clearer image, normally not jumpy, and you could hear every word they said.. about 80% of the time.
Problems I experienced with Skype:
  • Pixelated image and GHOST ISAAC. Sounds weird but sometimes as I would be talking to him, the image would suddenly jump to something he was doing a few minutes before. Often times it would show both the former image on the screen along with the current streaming image. Trippy stuff. And when it got pixely, it was often so extreme it would lead to a distorted and just creepy face. The weird thing is he would just have to wave his hand around a bunch to get it to go away so it was kind of like it was physically there, right in front of him.
  • Pee face. Ok I know I need to come up with a better term for this but I can't help but think of it this way. About 50% of the time, there was this thick yellow strip going right down the middle of his video, where his face was, and a big yellow blob off to the right. I soon grew used to it but let me tell you, you almost start to believe the yellow is part of their natural skin.
  • DROPPED CALLS. Oh my gosh dropped calls. Those things were the most stressful things... ever. And you would know when it was going to drop because the image got extremely pixelated and sound got CRAP so you just wait a few seconds and you would hear that lovely "bloop" sound of a dropped call. So we would call each other back only for it to happen again in a few minutes. This happened way too often. Some days the call would drop countless times until you're ready to scream and some days it wouldn't have a problem.
  • Camera would often random flash. I am not sure why it would do this, it never did with any other program. What it would do is it would turn on and off while we were talking. The light would flash on and off and my computer would freeze up. This happened every about 5-10 minutes, it seemed. Really annoying because sometimes it would take a few minutes to go back to normal but during the time of waiting, I couldn't talk to Isaac, he couldn't see me, and my computer would freeze. Very strange!

This is just an example of weird ghost images Skype would do. This isn't the weirdest I've seen, it just happens to be the only one I've ever screen captured. That face is one I don't believe Isaac can naturally do. He didn't even have his mouth open at that very moment! It some how got him yawning or SOMETHING he did long before and morphed it with his face. His mouth/cheeck/chin just don't look right at all! Crazy stuff.


I finally decided to do more research online. Basically find something BETTER THAN SKYPE.
I came across two major options. ooVoo and SightSpeed. I decided to go with SightSpeed and try it out. There is a free version, for simple one on one, but you could also get their premium for multiperson conferences and other features.
My first impression:
Installed pretty quickly.
Computer didn't slow down apon installation.
Configured camera quickly.
Doesn't drop calls!!!!
Camera doesn't flash!!!!
No weird pixelation problems, ghost Isaacs, or strange colors.
My one problem is echo. Skype had an echo reduction thing but this doesn't.
I also was annoyed by IMs I was getting from random people wanting to know my age and sex but finally one person was nice enough to tell me that it was because I was on the community list and told me how to get off of it. Thank you!

The end.


mgough said...

Hey there...

I wanted to point out that the quality of your Webcam and the lighting being in front of your webcam vs. behind or above will drastically affect your video quality no matter what the application. Also the CPU and Internet speed (upload more than download speed) will affect how well you send video.

It may not be Skype - it may be the webcam. Only the top end Logitech webcams are worth buying... the rest trail by a year or two in quality.


Melody said...

But I DO have one of the better Logitech cams, or at least that's what I was led to believe.
I know it's different for every one but this was just my experience with Skype and I'm sure people are having similar problems.

mgough said...

Being a frequent user of Video Call technology, I have found that if you find an issue with one app being fuzzy, all/most video apps will have the same. Skype for example has a Hi-Res mode that if you and/or both sides are using Duo-Core processors and you both have good hi-speed Internet... test this by going to and running a speed test, you will have good Hi-res crisp Video Calls.

The best Logitect webcams are the top 3 expensive ones - just FYI.