Facetime review from a heavy video conferencer

Discussion in 'iPhone' started by nightfly13, Sep 27, 2010.

  1. nightfly13 macrumors 6502a


    Jul 17, 2008
    Ranchi, India
    I video chat 7-8 times a week with my family back in the US for the last several years. I have 5-6 other business chats monthly. I have crappy 512kbps broadband here in India.

    I use a combination of Skype and iChat with a relatively high end Logitech USB webcam and a Mac Pro. Skype isn't quite as crisp but the mediocre quality is consistent, iChat is hit and miss.

    Facetime is considerably better than both. I realize my webcam is only vga (640x480 - same as the front facing iPhone 4 camera, I think) but with my limited bandwidth, I don't think that's the reason for poor performance. I also do Skype now and then from our Unibody MBP and it's not really much of a difference. Facetime, regardless of which camera I use, is a lot better. Both of my late 50s not-too-techy parents commented individually on how much clearer it was on their end - and I have to report the same for me, too. Smoother frame rates, fewer glitches, sharper picture. I guess it should be chalked up to better codecs?

    Having said all that, my dad and I don't really need extreme closeups of each other to chitchat, so we'll still use Skype most of the time, except if I want to get my kids involved, in which case the rear facing camera is great.. and I was already pretty practiced in tilting the laptop screen just right to walk around the house like a steadycam, great to have a screen instead :)

    Anyway, go Apple. Please sell us Retina display & facetime capable iPads, I don't care of it's 7 or 9.7". Knock $100 off and 7" is fine by me.
  2. lush242000 macrumors member


    Sep 20, 2010
    On earth
    Facetime has pretty good quality for what it is. On par or better than skype from my experience.
  3. gatearray macrumors 65816

    Apr 24, 2010
    Thanks for the interesting comparison on quality from an experienced video chat user, it was very informative!

    I'm curious... If you don't need extreme closeups of your dad, as you say, why do you want to use the iPad to video chat as opposed to the iPhone?

    On the iPad, it won't necessarily be like your computer, right? Where you can be browsing the web, doing work stuff, etc. while video chatting is happening in a separate window... I mean, the whole iPad will be doing this one task, right?

    Wouldn't the iPhone be much easier and more convenient that using the iPad for FT purposes in your extensive experience? If not, please follow-up with your feelings on why the iPad would make a better choice over your MBP or iPhone for FaceTime.

  4. samcraig macrumors P6

    Jun 22, 2009
    ...couldn't you just put the iPhone on a stand/mount/something that would prevent the extreme close up? You don't HAVE to hold it (close).
  5. nightfly13 thread starter macrumors 6502a


    Jul 17, 2008
    Ranchi, India
    Good questions.

    I think the iPad will be awesome some of the time because it's not uncommon for my niece and parents to want to chat with 2 or 3 of my kids, so it's better for group video chats than an iPhone for obvious reasons. I also find that FT (and this really should have been part of my review) eats battery like nothing else I do on my iPhone (I'm sure Air Video would be the similarly consumptive, but I only use that app on my iPad). The iPad shines in this department. I still think I'd use my desktop (so I can have the video up and interact with extra monitors simultaneously). So no, the iPad won't help with multi-tasking (which some would call being a poor conversationalist!). I think I'd use the iPad 20% of the time (basically to interact with my kids in other rooms, or outside playing) and still use the stationary webcam 80% of the time.

    As for a stand, I was looking around my desk today for something to do just that - didn't find anything and I was worried about blocking the speaker/mic if I let it 'stand' on my table (which is too low, anyway). It probably is rotationally-aware-enough to allow me to be totally upside down (speakers up) but I didn't try. It's a curious dynamic to be in a passive power struggle, so to speak, with your FT counterpart about which orientation you want to hold the screen. If they change to landscape or portrait, I either change with them or have 1/8th the size of screen to look at (and it's sideways).

    The other thing I'm cognizant about with regard to setting it on a desk - further out in a wider shot is how my audio would be, say a meter away. Probably fine if there's isn't much ambient noise.

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