Saturday, March 8, 2008

Vawkr* - Instant Video Chat Makes You a Talker

I had a chance to test out another new video chat tool called vawker*. It's a free browser based video chat solution that's easy to use and requires no downloads or sign up. Their slogan is "Look Who's Talking" and they gave it a fun and simple interface that works seamlessly within your browser using Flash. You can "grab a room" and get a unique URL to share with friends and start a video chat session instantly. You can also create your own permanent chat room by signing up and embedding the room on MySpace, Facebook, your blog or any website.

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My friend Rich and I took it for a test ride yesterday and had pretty good results. The controls are very basic with only volume and microphone adjustments and a chat window. There's no resizing of windows like other video chat applications. Audio is an issue as we experienced a lot of echo and had to keep adjusting the volume and microphone levels. When we selected "Reduce Echo" the audio kept gating and cutting out. The video looked clear when you didn't move too much and it seemed to run at about 300k while trying to give us 30 fps. We both were on iMacs down the hall from each other and noticed only a slight delay. Overall, it worked very well and I signed up and set up two separate rooms using two of my email addresses.

I tried a 3-way video chat today and it actually performed poorly. The video kept freezing, the echo increased and we ended up with a 30 second delay. We gave up on it and went back to Skype.

My initial feedback is that I'd like to see some improvements in the way it handles audio and I want to be able to scale and move the video windows around. I'll test it out some more before I render my final verdict but I suggest you give it try. It's fun and fast and you'll video chatting in no time.