Skype on Mobile over 3G: A Skype Video Calling First Experience

This morning I received a chat message from TechCraver’s Jason Harris asking if I would take a video call. Little did I realize that this was not going to be a normal HD Skype video call like our last one.

Jason is a fan of the Nokia N900 mobile computer which has always supported Skype voice and chat; he had just downloaded the PR 1.2 version of firmware and learned that it included support for Skype video.

JHarris.N900Video3G.7140.image1.25May10 So he called me; I answered on my Skype for Windows 4.2 client and found that it was initiating a Skype video call. Very shortly Jason appeared in full motion video using the N900’s front facing camera with VGA resolution. Occasionally the picture froze but quickly recovered. At my end I was using the new FREETALK Everyman HD webcam.

Here’s what impressed:

  • coming from such a small device the video quality was certainly acceptable – from the Call Technical Info I was receiving him at 320 x 240 resolution
  • the call was supported by the G729 voice codec, the same voice codec used by the currently available version of Skype for iPhone.
  • the N900 was using a H264 video codec sending me 320 x 240 at 14 fps – obviously embedded in the new firmware (if not in earlier firmware);
  • 4638805399_682b3bf920[1] My video was also going out over the H264 video processor embedded in the Everyman HD at 160 x 120 resolution at 19 fps. When you look at the image Jason was receiving you can see why it would be at such a low resolution.
  • the call was being handled at his end by T-Mobile’s 3G network

Now the Skype for Windows Call Quality Indicator was showing a poor quality network connection; that has to be a result of the 3G wireless end as I had just completed an HD video call to Europe with its demands for a minimum 1.2 Mbps upload speed.

Bottom line: For personal video calling this certainly is a good start. As mentioned in a previous post we should be seeing such calling on the iPhone (and iPad) later this year. It certainly has to open the question as to whether Skype is now developing a Skype video calling feature for Skype for iPhone (especially given the new features available in iPhone OS 4.0, such as multi-tasking). And will the new version of iPhone support H264 video codecs?

And my thanks to Jason for asking me to participate in this quasi-history making 3G mobile Skype call.

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About Jim Courtney

Bringing over thirty years' experience in the sales, marketing and management of cutting edge technology businesses.

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