Skype Offers Tips For Improved Audio and Video Quality

Skype-Jabra-Jims-book-300pxMatthew de Beer has penned a couple of recent blog posts over at Skype’s The Big Blog. The most recent one is called, “See no evil, hear no evil – Tips for audio and video quality” and offers some sounds advice on the use of the mute button. It also offers guidance on lighting considerations for video calls. These are both simple, but helpful tips.

I’m constantly amazed at how many people have video calls in a completely ad hoc manner, giving no thought at all to how they look, or the situation around them. A little thought about lighting can dramatically improve your experience with video calling.

Mr. de Beer also had an earlier post entitled, “Gearing For Success.” In this case he promotes the use of a headset over the built-in microphone & speakers common to a laptop.  I concur, but I would make the case more fervently.

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Invoxia’s AudiOffice Now Delivering

Invoxia AudiOffice Facetime 300pxInvoxia’s NVX 610, which I reviewed not long ago, is an ambitious device, tackling various communication and entertainment functions all by way of an iOS host. With the NVX 610 selling for $599, it’s many capabilities come at a price.

Earlier this week Invoxia announced that they have started to deliver their new AudiOffice device. Announced at CES earlier this year, AudiOffice looks nearly identical to the NVX 610. The device is more targeted in its feature set, acting as a hardware dock for the purposes of desktop telephony applications.

Like the NVX, AudiOffice supports cellular calls, one SIP account and one Skype account. HDVoice support remains in the form of G.722 via SIP and SILK with respect to Skype calls. Compared to it’s larger sibling AudiOffice has fewer microphone (2 vs 8) and speaker (4 vs 8) elements.

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Inflexibility: TelyHD, Biscotti & Microphones

This is a semi-rant on a somewhat common theme for me, getting the best audio quality. In pondering these two new video calling devices from Tely Labs and Biscotti one thing stands out as unfortunate…they both rely exclusively upon an array of microphones built into their respective device. I find this to be short-sighted and unnecessarily inflexible.

Consider of you will the sample video that Jim Courtney recorded speaking with a gentleman from Tely Labs. The video quality is good. The audio quality is good…but it could be a lot better.

At both ends of the call there’s considerable room tone. In particular you can clearly hear that the conference room at Tely Labs is a simple drywall box. It sounds boomy and reverberant.

As I have described elsewhere, I find that the use of a speakerphone is always a last resort. It’s really only appropriate when you have a group of people collected for a call. To use a speakerphone when the call is just on-to-one is to permit the ambient noise and nature of the room to have undue influence in the audio quality.

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The Deskphone Re-Imagined: Invoxia’s NVX610

In recent years we’ve repeatedly heard of the death of the land line, how large numbers of consumers are “cutting the cord” and turning to mobile phones as their only phones. Industry data on the continuing loss of land lines bears out this claim.

Many people, including VUC regulars like myself and Dave Michels, have been calling for a reimagining of the desk phone. The premise being that an innovative reconsideration of the desk phone could save the “Home Phone.”

The trend in cord cutting is not purely a consumer phenomenon. Given dispersed and highly mobile workforces some businesses are eschewing the traditional desk phone in favor of mobile phones. This is driven by many factors, notably; cost, convenience, and feature set in the light of smart phones.

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Blue Jeans Network: H.323 & Skype Video Conferencing

A couple of weeks ago I started to play with a new service called Blue Jeans Network. This startup offers a cloud-based video conferencing service, effectively a cloud-based MCU. The service is presently free as it’s in a limited beta program. The beta program, originally set to expire this month, was just extended until June 15th.

At present their service supports connectivity via H.323, Skype and the PSTN. Of course,the PSTN dial-up means voice conferencing only…and thus only G.711. Clients connected via Skype get VGA resolution video and nice SILK-encoded audio.

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