Review: Oovoo

There is little on this earth to beat the expensive Cisco telepresence rooms that you can find across the world, but at several hundred Euros per hour they are not the cheapest option. So for the rest of us there are: Skype, Google and Oovoo. I basically decided to try Oovoo after the quality of Skype got so bad that I was forced to start looking elsewhere.

Here is a brief list of the good points:

  • Group chat with up to 12 people without a subscription (depends on platform)
  • Ability to set up web chat room for those without an Oovoo account
  • Ability to decide what resolution you broadcast in including framerate and resolution (subject to hardware support, max 1HD video per call)
  • Good quality video and audio
  • Available for Mac, Windows, iOS and Android, Windows 7 offers by far the best user experience
  • Screen sharing (paid for option)
  • Call phones (paid for options)
  • Works well on modest Windows computers including Netbooks
  • Ability to record a call
  • You can login with Facebook (not tested as I am not on Facebook)

Now for the bad points:

  • Not compatible with Linux either via the web or the client
  • You need a good Mac to run Oovoo; older hardware is quickly overwhelmed leading to poor quality video and a VERY slow computer
  • Sending files is limited to 25mb
  • Support for receiving HD video varies across platforms meaning blank windows quite a bit on certain machines.
  • Your data is NOT encrypted so unlike Skype it is easier for hackers eavesdrop on your conversations
  • Advertising supported in the free version; much like Skype
In general Oovoo seems better at maintaining quality during long calls than Skype, indeed the indicator of call quality in general seems much more accurate than on Skype. In general this indicates if the computer is overloaded or the connection is deteriorating. This is handy and means you can start killing applications or reducing video quality if problems set in.

In conclusion Oovoo’s ability to let you connect to anyone via the web chat options makes it a relatively open platform. You also get lots of features for free including HD and group chat. Call quality is generally very good but it is very dependent on the settings and hardware of the computers you are using. Also the Mac version is poor as it really eats up resources and does not seem to be as reliable or complete as it’s Windows sibling. In general it is worth trying out.


About Rod McCall

Rod McCall is a researcher in the field of human-computer interaction in areas such as augmented reality, mobile gaming in-car systems and virtual environments. He has a passing interest in economics after not being entirely convinced by the rubbish presented as fact during lectures on that particular subject while at uni.
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