Thursday, March 19, 2009

Google Video Chat: It Mostly Works

I've had a Gmail account since the day Google announced them. I use it mainly as my "other" email address, and for various Google services. My girlfriend has one as well, and uses hers daily. As I've mentioned here before, I have an Asus Eee PC 901, which has, among other things, a 1.3MP webcam. My girlfriend just got an Apple MacBook Pro, which also has a webcam. I thought it would be fun/useful to try out Google's Video Chat. Especially when communicating with loved ones, sometimes the phone just doesn't cut it.

After installing a few browser plugins, and then reloading our respective browsers, we were both able to see and speak to one another. Both of our machines also have internal microphones, so there was no need for a bulky external mic for either of us. Audio was surpisingly clear for both parties. Video was a bit pixelated. This is to be expected, as my webcam's 1.3MP is not exactly stellar. Ambient light in the room where the machine is located makes all the difference. If you're in a dark room, it's hard to make out the other person. Turn on a few lights, and all is well.

The only feature that did not work for me was full screen video. It was very pixelated/blurry and often froze up, causing me to have to return to windowed mode. However, I'd say that Google Video Chat is, for the most part, very usable. It's a great free option for video chatting. Give it a try.