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Facebook Skype video chat: first impressions
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by amy.eks on Friday, 08 July 2011
Facebook Skype video chat: first impressions


Facebook unveiled their 'awesome' new feature on Wednesday - Skype-powered video chats with your friends. But how well has the announcement gone down - and is the feature any good? 
We've tried Facebook video chat ourselves, and our first impressions are - generally - good. The 'easy' installation of the software that Facebook spoke about wasn't quite a simple as the one-click, in-browser process they claimed; on our MacBook Air (running Chrome) it was a pretty standard, albeit very quick, software download that we had to open up in the normal, quite-a-few-clicks-actually way.
We also bumped into a few problems trying to connect at first - calling a friend didn't seem to alert them to the fact we were trying to chat with them. But, after a few false starts, we got through. 
The video quality is decent - nothing special, but roughly as good as that found on Facebook's new rival, Google+; audio quality is also fine, although might be a bit heavy on background noise. As with all video chats, a lot of this is going to depend more on the quality of your connection than on anything inherent in the software.
The video chat appears as a single, pleasingly minimal screen overlaid on your Facebook page, which you can move around - but, slightly annoyingly, can't resize, other than making it fullscreen.
We can see an awful lot of people using this - for straight one-to-one video chats, it's as appealing an option as Google's offering, or the standalone Skype client, and Facebook's huge user base will undoubtedly enjoy it.
But it doesn't do group chat, which is the whole point of Google+'s Hangouts (widely seen as one of its killer features), and is currently a rather bare-bones offering - you can't mute it, for example. 
Our generally favourable impression is shared by many of the big tech blogs' first reviews as well. 
This Is My Next thought said 'The set up was pretty seamless', but reported that while one writer 'found the quality to be on par with normal Skype video calls', others 'found things to be a bit more choppy and actually ended up dropping a call.' 
And The Next Web thought the service was 'very simple to install and very easy to initiate a call. We wish that the call quality was better but we’re glad to see what should be a massively helpful and convenient feature finally arrive in Facebook.'
Meanwhile, TechCrunch wrote of the Facebook v Google+ debate: 'There’s really no comparison between the products. Facebook video chat is great to talk to friends one at a time. Google Hangouts is great for group chat. There’s no real overlap between the products at all.'




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