Gmail Video Chat - Google's Voice and Video Chat - A Work In Progress

Gmail Video Chat   Googles Voice and Video Chat   A Work In ProgressGoogle recently switched on the tubes behind Google Video Chat. Mark Robertson and I had a chance to test it out and here are my thoughts on it. The video and audio chats require that you have the Google Talk Plugin v1.0.2.0 installed. Unfortunately, it is limited in operating systems and browsers that it is compatible with. It currently supports Firefox 2.0+, IE 6.0+, Safari 3.0+ and of course Google Chrome. While it states on the help page that Firefox is available for Linux, the Google Talk plugin in fact is not.

Next it appears to be seriously processor intensive. My Athlon 64-based laptop (2.4Ghz, 1GB RAM) struggled to run the video chat and do anything else, up to and including showing me text in Notepad. So it's not exactly the most well written application from what I'm seeing at present. Of course, it's still in its infancy and there are bound to be bugs and kinks that need to be ironed out.

It runs as its own .exe and even when you're not using it in the browser it's there sucking down some power if you have a Gmail tab or window open. I'm also fairly sure it's been the cause of several Firefox 3.0 crashes lately (Windows XP) as the software was far more stable prior to my recent installation of the Google Talk Plugin. It starts up automatically when you head to Gmail and runs in the background using up about 5.2MB of memory and generally no processing when not in use. However, I don't understand why it couldn't start up when a chat was actually initialized instead of when one just visits Gmail. Most of us are going there for mail and not for video chat.

Personally I have a great big fat bandwidth pipe here at home. So I see no reason why any streaming video, especially when in a window so small, should be laggy. Yet this video was. It was so laggy at times that it was barely usable. There's also a massive delay between saying something and the other person hearing it. This can be experienced by talking and watching the other person waiting to hear you. Or you might even hear yourself come back through the system. This is probably part of the reason why it is so laggy as it is sending redundant information back and forth. Part of this is obviously due in part to the microphones and settings being used so it's not all Google here.

One-way video chat can be accomplished; however both parties must have the client installed. I imagine the same goes for the voice chat portion as well.

When you look at this and then look at YouTube live and some other things that Google is working on at present it sure looks like they are taking steps towards a fully interactive, two-way video communication tool or service. Perhaps they are actually working towards a streaming television service, who knows. Maybe they're quietly weaving together a video-streaming empire or maybe they're just playing around with video chat. Either way it doesn't seem completely useful at present due to the lag, the potential instability and the fact that it seems to require so much processor that many people won't be able to do anything else but video chat. I think for now I'll stick to Skype for my voice and video chat usage.

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About the Author -
Christophor Rick is a freelance writer specializing in technology, new media, video games, IPTV, online video advertising and consumer electronics. His past work has included press releases, copy-writing, travel writing and journalism. He also writes novel-length and short fiction as part of Three-Faced Media . View All Posts By -

What do you think? ▼
  • Michael M

    Have you tried it on any other computers or browsers? I've using it with Chrome and Firefox on an MSI Wind with a 1.33 Gig processor and 1 Gig of RAM and have experienced no instability or slowdown. Sometimes the calls drop unexpectedly, but so far this has never crashed the browser.

  • Gandoo Manis

    Have you realized you are using only 1GB of RAM and an older processor. Our company have been using it everyday in FULL SCREEN video with people all over the country and the world. Even in places with very low bandwidth connections, I was still able to have full screen video chat. Its obvious your computer is not up to par (no dual core/only 1gb RAM/Old Laptop) for cpu intensive tasks such as video chat/Ajax/Etc. The reality is you have integrated video and only 1GB RAM (Shared with Video). My advice: upgrade your computer, revise all your reviews and apologize to all your readers for unintentional misinformation.- your system is the WEAKEST LINK.

  • http://www.reelseo.com/about/mark/ Mark Robertson

    Michael - Looks like you need a new computer as well according to Gandoo ;-)

    I dont know you guys, I have a brand new Mac Air, and it sucked - i didnt even try full screen mode.

    I know, the Mac air is not super-fast, but the app should be fine with that. We'll see. I havent tested it since shortly after it was launched and they may have very well made improvements since.

    What do you think Christophor?

  • http://www.reelseo.com Christophor Rick

    Video Chat requires a dual core and more than 1GB of RAM? Man someone had better tell those dudes at Skype to stop doing whatever it is they're doing as video chat with them runs flawlessly. Live messenger is the same and I hate to admit that as it's Microsoft.

    It's not a bandwidth issue, I have an 8Mb pipeline to the flat.

    So only 1GB of RAM is insufficient for AJAX? Did you help develop this application because you seem to be defending them with the fervor that someone like that would?

    "My advice: upgrade your computer, revise all your reviews and apologize to all your readers for unintentional misinformation.- your system is the WEAKEST LINK."

    Thanks for the advice, but I stand by my review. The product is apparently flawed. Especially if you believe that in order to use AJAX and video chat you need a dual core processor and loads of RAM.

    The 64-bit Athlon 3400+ (2.2GHz) is able to handle many of today's hardcore gaming titles with the ATi Radeon 9700 in it and the 1GB of RAM.

    Shouldn't an application like this cater to as many people as possible? My laptop is somewhat outdated, I'm aware of that. But so are many people's computers, so if you want widespread use of an application don't you make it usable for a wide range or computers? A lowest common denominator so to speak?

    I know I would.

    And what about the fact that the Googlechat program loads when you enter Gmail and not when you initiate a chat? You didn't have anything to say on that? Like extra processes running needlessly are fine? Wasting processing power, RAM and energy is OK?

  • http://www.reelseo.com Christophor Rick

    Oh wait, did I mention Skype Video Chat works flawlessly on my Acer Aspire One? The Intel Atom 1.6Ghz, 1GB RAM model...with Linux? There's no dual core in that...it's against the laws of computing physics!!

    :)

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_KEBFTKXFL6MYDODDCPHKVMENTI sagar

    haii

  • Tomer Benmoshe

    Check out ooVoo.com, they are the best for multiple particular video chat.