Thursday, August 7, 2008

Coolest online communication tool ever: ooVoo

[caption id="" align="alignright" width="166" caption="ooVoo, a free online communication tool specializing in video"]ooVoo, a free online communication tool specializing in video[/caption]

I've actually had this program for a few months now, but I hadn't been using it much until today when they released version 1.7.  OoVoo is a voice communication tool specializing in video.  You might be asking yourself: "Ok, well what makes this particular program stand out from the rest?"  Well I have that answer for you...

Support for HD capable webcams.

[caption id="" align="alignleft" width="248" caption="Logitech Quickcam® Pro"]Logitech Quickcam Pro[/caption]

If you own a Logitech Quickam® Pro 9000 or any webcam that's capable of displaying up to 640x480 (or higher), then this program will shine brightly where others don't.

Skype, ooVoo's competition does support HD video as well, however they slapped on a bunch of restrictions for no good reason which is complete horse poo-poo.  I've listed below all the Skype requirements that MUST be met in order for you to take advantage of the High Resolution option:

  • Intel Dual Core (or CoreDuo) processor (for both recipients for HD capability)

  • Logitech QuickCams with Carl-Zeiss optics (9000 Pro, Pro for Notebooks) - [only Logitech cams are allowed to output HD video on Skype at the moment]

  • QuickCam software drivers version 11.5 (If you use Logitech's webcams)

  • Skype 3.6 (or higher)

Ok now here are the requirements for ooVoo to broadcast HD video:

  • ooVoo version 1.7 (or higher)

  • Any capable webcam displaying 640x480 (or higher)

That's it.  So it looks like ooVoo wins the battle there.  Now don't get me wrong, Skype isn't a terrible tool, it's just that it doesn't integrate the webcam as well as ooVoo does.  Skype only limits webcam usage between two people where as you can have up to 3 (assuming you have a free ooVoo account). I'm an avid Skype user, and I will say that Skype uses significantly more resources then ooVoo does, and especially holds true when you use your webcam with it.  Skype at times can use as much as 50MB of RAM idle.  OoVoo while active and a webcam conference going uses approximately 34MB.

I'm not going to write a biased review here and say there's nothing wrong with ooVoo, in fact it does have some negatives.  I've noticed when comparing both programs, ooVoo's audio filtration is bad.  OoVoo has a noise cancellation feature that's just terrible; the level balance doesn't auto adjust well enough which causes the background sound on your parties end to cut in and out.   Skype doesn't have this issue at all.  The audio quality is significantly better with Skype, however if you enable the webcam, depending on how much available bandwidth you and your party have, it can severely degrade.  Second, as of version 1.7 there is no a 468x60 banner that always displays when you're in a call, it's ANNOYING AS FUCK!  I guess their justification for adding in the banner is becuase your call runs directly through their servers rather then using your computer as a node like Skype does.

Aside from ooVoo's awesome job integrating webcams, it also has quite a slick interface: (displayed below)

[caption id="attachment_108" align="alignleft" width="142" caption="Interface of ooVoo (click to enlarge)"]Interface of ooVoo[/caption]

If you've used Skype before, then you should recognize ooVoo's interface layout.  It's very easy to use once you've added friends.  It's just like using instant messenger.  Just double click on their name (assuming they're online) and you'll make your call.

When you're in a call, the first thing you'll see are two windows side by side.  If you both have your webcams plugged in, you should see each other in the preview window.

One last thing I'd like to note is that if you don't have ooVoo installed, you can invite non-ooVoo users to the conversations by sending them a generated link, which allows them to be a part of your conference through their browser.

[caption id="attachment_113" align="alignright" width="357" caption="Me strangling the jew remotely"]Me strangling the jew remotely[/caption]