Tablet releases mark rough road ahead for video chat

The new breed of mobile devices with front-facing cameras needs better video chatting standards

The imminent arrival of Samsung's Android-powered Galaxy slate, which may debut as early as next month, signals that interesting times are ahead for video-chat users. Businesses and other early-adopters hoping to conduct face-to-face meetings via smartphones and tablets may be in store for a frustrating experience.

A baffling array of mobile devices, many equipped with front-facing cameras and video-chat software, are arriving now or will be soon. In addition to the aforementioned Samsung tablet, iPhone 4 and HTC EVO 4G, there's the Cisco Cius business tablet, the tepidly received Dell Streak, and a host of other Android-based slates. There's a good chance that Apple will bring a camera and FaceTime to the next-gen iPod touch and iPad too.

Unlike conventional voice-calling, today's video-chat landscape is a balkanized world rife with competing and mostly incompatible offerings, including Skype, Apple's FaceTime, Fring, Qik, Google Talk, and (perhaps eventually) Microsoft's new Video Kinect.

While tech-savvy users can certainly manage to set up and conduct a video conference, the process involves a certain degree of planning and preparation. It's nowhere as easy as making a standard voice call, a shortcoming that likely won't improve in the near future.

With the arrival of 4G wireless broadband, and the growing availability of Wi-Fi in businesses and public locations, the infrastructure required for video chat is quickly becoming a reality. It may not be here today, of course, but the network plumbing will soon be in place. What's missing is a dead-simple video calling application that works across all devices and mobile operating systems.

FaceTime may work well on iPhone 4 units connected to Wi-Fi networks, but Apple's approach is both proprietary and limited. And while Steve Jobs would like to make FaceTime an industry standard, it's questionable whether powerful competitors such as Google, Microsoft, and Cisco would agree to that.

What about Skype? The popular VoIP app could very well become a de facto standard for mobile video conferencing, but wireless carriers and phone manufacturers may prevent that from happening. According to Network World, Skype is concerned that Apple and Android phone makers may cripple Skype on their platforms. Example: If a wireless carrier views Skype as a competitive threat, it might force its customers to use its own VoIP app instead.

The industry-wide implementation of an International Telecommunications Union (ITU) video-conferencing standard may eventually resolve these issues, but who knows when that'll happen. Indeed, today's video-chatters will find things a bit more challenging than they'd like.

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags broadbandApplevoipDelltelecommunicationPhonessamsungconsumer electronicsCell Phonesweb cams

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Jeff Bertolucci

PC World (US online)
Show Comments

Cool Tech

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Stocking Stuffer

Logitech Ultimate Ears Wonderboom Bluetooth Speaker

Learn more >

SmartLens - Clip on Phone Camera Lens Set of 3

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Maryellen Rose George

Brother PT-P750W

It’s useful for office tasks as well as pragmatic labelling of equipment and storage – just don’t get too excited and label everything in sight!

Cathy Giles

Brother MFC-L8900CDW

The Brother MFC-L8900CDW is an absolute stand out. I struggle to fault it.

Luke Hill

MSI GT75 TITAN

I need power and lots of it. As a Front End Web developer anything less just won’t cut it which is why the MSI GT75 is an outstanding laptop for me. It’s a sleek and futuristic looking, high quality, beast that has a touch of sci-fi flare about it.

Emily Tyson

MSI GE63 Raider

If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.

Laura Johnston

MSI GS65 Stealth Thin

If you can afford the price tag, it is well worth the money. It out performs any other laptop I have tried for gaming, and the transportable design and incredible display also make it ideal for work.

Andrew Teoh

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

Touch screen visibility and operation was great and easy to navigate. Each menu and sub-menu was in an understandable order and category

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?