Keywords: SightSpeed, Web Conferencing, Video Conferencing, Communications, Web Cameras
For the last 18 months, I’ve been using a service called SightSpeed. SightSpeed is an amazing service that allows me and my clients (as well as family) to communicate over the internet. With a good web camera and a decent internet connection, you can hold video conferences at 30 fps with speech being perfectly synced with lip movement.
There are numerous reasons that I like SightSpeed so much. The price for the service, for doing one-on-one conferencing is free. You simply have to signup for an account and download the software. If you need to web conference with more than one other person, SightSpeed offers a professional service plan that allows you to initiate multi-party conferencing. Multi-party conferencing costs $50 per year and allows a maximum of four participants (you and three others) in a single conference.
SightSpeed also allows you to send video e-mails (they are stored on a SightSpeed server) which can be 30 seconds in length for the Basic free service and up to one minute for the Professional Service plan. Your video emails are stored for 30 days on the basic plan and for the life of your subscription with the Professional plan. That’s also a nice way to post video to blogs and not have to worry about storage and bandwidth issues.
I use a Logitech QuickCam Fusion web camera that has a built in microphone so I don’t have to mess around with a headset. At other times, I use a Jabra Bluetooth ear piece/microphone that clips in to my ear and for the most part is hidden behind my ear. The Bluetooth setup is really superior in that there is absolutely no echo and I can get up and move around to the whiteboard or do other things and still keep a conference going.
SightSpeed works over or through firewalls quite well. I use Microsoft’s Small Business Server 2000 and I only had to make a single change to ISA (opened port 9000) to get it to work. On an XP Pro notebook using a D-Link UpNP router, it worked without a single change. I like that!
The quality of the web conference is dependent on three factors. The amount of light you have in your room, the speed of our broadband connection, and the quality of the camera. With a well lit room, a moderately fast connection (I have a 6 Mbps/1 Mbps cable connection) and a good web camera, you can have a very good video conferencing experience. Check out the requirements at the SightSpeed web site for more information and detailed information in plans and pricing.
What would I like to see added to SightSpeed? I would like to see application sharing (or even application viewing) and whiteboard functionality included in future releases. But even without these additional functions, SightSpeed does what it was intended to do and that is provide the best PC-to-PC video conferencing application available on the market today.