SightSpeed 6.0 is Out
- Better video quality. Before 6.0, it was already pretty good. Now with 6.0, it’s even better.
- New User Interface. A bit cleaner than the 5.0 UI. Makes use of tabs and second-level navigation.
- Better IM support, supposedly. However, I will get into my gripes with that.
- (For PRO users) the ability to record your video calls.
Now of course, on the video side of things, I expect nothing less than top-notch quality, and with SightSpeed 6.0, I get that. I did a couple of live calls today and I could see noticeable improvements, particularly when the network degraded slightly. Seems to handle that better.
The UI is definitely cleaner and improved from the 5.0. A bit less blue and more white. It’s easier to find what you’re looking for. Also, on the Mac at least, the major functions are listed in menus in the menu bar. However, there are some parts of the UI that take you directly to the SightSpeed website. It would be nicer if those elements were integrated into the application directly, but that’s no different than in 5.0.
Chat. Well, it has improved, but it does have a ways to go. Chat is activated by going to the contact in Voice and Video calls and clicking on the “chat” bubble next to their name. A window pops up where you can type in chat messages. I presume if someone starts a chat with you, that window would pop up as well. An improvement, but, there are problems:
- No audio notification on incoming messages. Not on the Mac, and I checked with VoIPGirl today and she didn’t have any audio notifications on the PC either. I checked through the various options in the application and there were no settings for audio notifications.
- At times, when I was scrolling back through the chat, certain “error message” popped up that seem to insert themselves wherever I was scrolling back. Bad form.
- When I was already at the bottom of the chat window, new messages (again, at least on the Mac) did not advance the window, being left to look at the old words. Yes, I can manually scroll down, but that’s annoying.
- There isn’t any way to add “flavor” to the chat (e.g. bold/italic/etc). That’s not a huge deal, but a nice to have.
- The default size for the text window could be a little bigger.
And now for the feature that bloggers are going to like: the ability to record video calls. It is possible to record both video and audio for calls, and what elements you record are selectable. What’s cool is that each leg of the call is recorded in it’s own file. So for those people who employ multi-track audio editing programs, they will be able to produce excellent quality interviews.
Now, here’s the downside to this: on the Mac, while I was able to view the video files, the audio was not usable. It appears that the audio is encoded in FLAC (or 0xf1ac). And while FLAC is a great codec to use, none of the playback tools I had on the Mac were able to play the audio, including the open-source VLC. Perhaps using a different codec here might be in order. Furthermore, if you choose to record audio-only, it still produces an AVI file. For audio only, shouldn’t an audio file be generated instead of a video one?
I have no doubt that Peter Csathy and his team can correct these issues. They are easy compared to what they were able to accomplish with video quality, which just gets better and better.