My ooVoo Experience
The past couple weeks, I’ve been fortunate enough to spend some time playing around with ooVoo as part of the MyooVooDay project and playing with it with a few friends who have taken the plunge and downloaded the client as well.
I was lucky enough to get to spend some time chatting with some of my favorite people from Twitter as well as to meet some new friends during the MyooVooDay event. I did miss a couple of ooVoo sessions I was really hoping to catch (like one with Chris Brogan, who has his own ooVoo review here) due to unforeseen complications offline – but I’ve spent a few hours navigating the software and experiencing different configurations.
As I’ve only used it on the laptop, I’m speaking from the perspective of a PC user with XP loaded. My understanding is that there are some differing issues for Mac users – but I can’t address those.
So onto my review of it – with the caveat that it’s still in Beta, so I expect that many of these things will be addressed down the line.
ooVoo is video calling application – what differentiates it between the more common players like Skype or Windows Live Messenger or their competitors is that you can have up to 6 people on the call. Additionally, you can open a chat window simultaneously, or use the client to place regular phone calls to any number in the world. If you are a PC user, you can also record however much of the session you’d like.
- Allows simultaneous video calling for up to 6 people
- Allows users to either be called and added to the gathering or to call in to one of the participants and be added.
- Allows user to initiate separate text chat box while in call – this can provide for 1-on-1 side conversation, multiple users, or even take the place of audio if one of the participants is having an issue with it.
- Allows PC users to record portions or all of the session and save on hard-drive for later viewing or distribution.
- Informs all users when they are being recorded so they have the option to disconnect if they don’t wish to be recorded.
- Users can record ‘video voicemails’ for other users, to be viewed at a different time if they are offline or otherwise busy.
- Main control panel shows status of other users on your ‘friends list’ so that you can see who is available or not – also allows user to type in customized status or message to others.
Areas that need work:
- User search requires that other users have entered specifically searchable information… no requirement for valid names.
- Calling other users requires adding them to your contacts list – and being added in return.
- Apple users cannot record (at present).
- Initial startup doesn’t walk new users through camera set-up or verifying settings – assumes a certain level of comfort with IM/internet calling programs and webcam configuration. If default webcam application running, cannot take control of camera or use.
- Could use a timer/clock inside the program for users to track time
- Video windows automatically rearrange themselves inside display depending on minimizing/maximizing and when someone enters or leaves. No ability to rearrange order manually or customize
- Headphones with microphone are absolutely required – using built-in mic/speakers results in very bad echo/feedback with even just one user w/o headset. If multiple users w/o headsets, cacophony results to the point where no one can hear/understand.
Also, since there seem to be a number of similar applications, I thought it would make sense to review some of the differences that ooVoo offers at this time.
Differentiation between other similar applications/offerings
- Both allow multiple video users to be seen at the same time – ooVoo up to 6, Yahoo Live up to 5 (one in main window, 4 in ‘minor’ windows below – options to change out minor video feeds with others listed in the chat room)
- Both allow simultaneous chat room activity – Yahoo Live allows anyone to join the chatroom, and to decide whether or not to stream video themselves
- Yahoo Live allows user to change individual volumes for each video feed – increasing those that are quieter, decreasing the noisy – or even muting any of them. ooVoo’s volume bar controls all of the boxes simultaneously – so a louder input can drown out a quieter one.
- ooVoo is private – only those invited into the call or accepted into the call can participate. Yahoo Live is open to anyone with a browser.
- ooVoo allows recording and saving of the session – Yahoo Live does not (at this time.)
- ooVoo allows searching for individual users – Yahoo Live does not (at this time) have searches other than ‘currently live’ or ‘by popularity.’
All in all, they both have video and chat rooms – but the target audiences seem very different.
ooVoo vs. Skype, IMs, IRC
- ooVoo presently has the ability to mimic aspects of all of the others – the main variant is numbers. ooVoo allows multiple concurrent users unlike Skype or IM programs. But allows fewer users than an IRC channel, and is not public.
- ooVoo is a ‘one-stop shop’ for these functions – no need to keep instances of all 3 of the others open in order to use the different aspects.
- ooVoo is still in Beta, so there are bugs, feed issues, and not a lot of documentation on how to resolve errors right now.
As I guess you can tell by now, I’m fairly sold on ooVoo as an application. I think if marketed correctly, it can and will become a mainstay in several different arenas.
Yes, there are still some rough spots… honestly? In this day and age, you can’t deliver a second-class experience to Mac users and expect them to be happy. Additionally, it’s important to be able to find people on ooVoo that you want to talk to. Without a reliable search function, you’re left with the feeling that you can’t find people you want to talk to anyways, so why bother? ooVoo without advanced searching is like a land-line without a phone book or 411… useless unless you know there’s someone else out there with it to call.
I have identified 2 ideal target markets and one general market for ooVoo that I hope they explore – but I think I’ll leave those for the next post, because I’m busy researching it myself and want a little more data before I push that out there. Besides, this is getting a tad long for an initial review.
What I’ll say is that I think if you’re a PC user with a webcam and a headphone set, it’s worth a try. Download it and let me know what you think.
If you want to leave me a video voicemail, or see if I’m available to ooVoo, I’m GeekMommy on there as well. Look forward to hearing what others think.
~ by Lucretia on February 22, 2008.