VSee vs. Skype: Three Key Differences

One of the most common questions we get asked is “What’s the difference between VSee and Skype video chat?” Let me assure you that there is a difference, especially if you’re wanting to do telemedicine. Even if you aren’t, VSee’s group video conference beats Skype’s video performance by a mile, especially when you need to cross continents — plus it’s free. While I’ll do my best to give you a fair overview of VSee and Skype, the best thing to do is just to give VSee a try.  As I mentioned before, group video calling is always free and if you want to try out our fast screen sharing features, VSee Pro is free for 30-days. So here are some of the main differences between VSee and Skype:

#1 Network Friendly and Low Bandwidth Video Chat

  • VSee uses less than 50% of the bandwidth of Skype at the same video quality.
  • VSee network-sensing technology will back off when it senses network congestion, which is ideal for wireless networks like 3G, satellite, or congested intranets.

In 2009 and 2010 the United Nation’s Refugee Agency (UNHCR) needed to stream high quality live video link to Darfurian refugee camps in Chad for Angelina Jolie and Hillary Clinton. Initially the UNHCR wanted to use Skype but found that the video quality was too grainy and poor due to the bandwidth limitations at the camp. They ended up using VSee because when using that same weak network, VSee was able to deliver clear, high quality video to the refugee camps, which made the event special.  For your everyday video calls, this means VSee will not freeze and stutter on you nearly as much as Skype video chat.

#2 Rich Collaboration

  • one-click application sharing with annotation
  • drag and drop file transfer
  • multi-camera support and remote PTZ camera control

Skype’s sharing capabilities are fairly limited and not that easy to use. For example, when I share my desktop, the remote person cannot see me. This makes it hard to build trust in situations where face is critical, such as for sales and getting to know new coworkers I may never meet in person.  It also doesn’t let you annotate on a shared screen, making collaboration inconvenient. For telemedicine, Skype doesn’t let you simply plug in and stream an extra camera or medical device so the doctor can see you and the medical device image at the same time.

With VSee all parties can see each other for the duration of the call.  VSee is the only video chat that allows you to send up to 4 video streams simultaneously from a single device. VSee design is all about simplicity and minimizing clicks. That means when you call someone, all you get is his or her face without being surrounded by menus, buttons, or frames. You can choose exactly what window you want to share or unshare with one simple click – no need for pop-up menus or directories.

#3 Privacy, Security, and API

  • VSee uses 256 bit FIPS 140-2 AES for all traffic
  • VSee provides a simple, rich API that supports secure medical workflows

While Skype does provide encryption, it uses its own proprietary method which means that no one knows if they keep the decryption keys (although the Edward Snowden divulgences confirm that it’s more than likely that Skype does.)   Indeed, Skype itself acknowledges “spying” on customers–that is, when you agree to use Skype products, you are allowing Skype to collect information about you, your account, and even your communications.  Moreover, Skype is also often attacked through its various vulnerabilities. Here is a PC World article about Skype security for doing business.

VSee is designed to be secure from the start. It uses open industry standard, FIPS 140-2 compliant 256-bit AES encryption on all control and media traffic. Everything is always encrypted. VSee uses RSA public/private key to exchange the AES session key such that the VSee servers do not have access to the AES session key. This means only the people in your conversation can decrypt data passed through VSee. Moreover, VSee API and eVisit platform allows for easy integration into a health portal or the creation of a secure web-based telehealth portal including support for virtual waiting room, doctor dashboard, etc.

I hope you find this VSee vs. Skype comparison useful. As I mentioned right at the beginning, the best thing to do is to sign up for VSee and give it a try yourself! You can also learn more about VSee telemedicine here or check out this third-party comparison of VSee vs. Skype for HIPAA-compliant telehealth.

Updated 10-2013

photo courtesy: Claudio Gennari …”Cogli l’attimo ferma il tempo”‘s

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Pexip: New Cloud-based Video Conference Plans to Squeeze Vidyo and Blue Jeans

Pexip, a new video conferencing venture is joining market disruptors like Vidyo, Blue Jeans, and VSee :) with its software-based (cloud) Infinity video conference offering. Led by former top Cisco Tandberg execs and developers, Pexip promises to make it possible to connect to any video conference system on any device without having to maintain expensive hardware infrastructure.

Pexip co-founder and CEO Simen Teigre claims its software can save up to 80% the cost of hardware MCUs.  Furthermore Infinity is supposed to conserve WAN broadband with its distributed architecture. A group of 20 conference participants can reduce bandwidth consumption by nearly 90 percent!

Pexip can be used with traditional video conferencing systems including Cisco, Polycom, LifeSize, software-based systems like Vidyo and Microsoft Lync 2013/2010, the browser-based rising star, WebRTC, as well as iPhone and iPad mobile endpoints. Video bridging capacity can easily be increased simply by adding additional servers.

As Teigre says, “It’s the first scalable software platform for fully interoperable video meetings, as well as voice meetings. It supports any collaboration end point or client out there, whether hardware or software.”

CRN’s Kristin Brent reports Pexip plans to drive sales solely through resellers and partners. They’ve already signed on Florida-based AVI-SPL, one of the country’s biggest in the videoconferencing solution providers.

Inifinity’s release is planned for September 2013.

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Will Zoom’s New Enterprise Video Conference Hurt Blue Jeans and Vidyo?

zoom video conference for businessZoom.us, the hottest new video conferencing company, is revealing its paid UMX (Unified Meeting Experience) offering for businesses. Zoom previously raised $3M in angel funding. It has also just raised $6M in series A funding, from some of the biggest names such as Qualcomm Ventures, Yahoo co-founder Jerry Yang, and Cisco WebEx co-founder Subrah Iyar! With this video conference startup Dream Team – super smart, experienced leaders, and very nice guys, too — Zoom is looking to do great things!

[See Zoom Company Profile here]

Initially a free consumer offering, Zoom received a great review from Walt Mossberg’s AllThingsD column for its clear 15-person group video and screen share.  Now Zoom is limiting free video to 1-on-1 calls as it focuses on entering the enterprise space and the education sector.

David Maldow from the Telepresence Options Human Productivity Lab recently reviewed the new features and gives Zoom a hearty thumbs up. Some of the finer points David points out include multi-screen desktops (so video can be displayed on one screen while screen share content is displayed on another panel) and unlimited video recording.

However, the biggest selling point for Zoom is its full featured mobile support.  It also can accommodate 40 participants in a video conference unlike WebEx Meetings which supports 9 or ooVoo which supports 12.

Vidyo and Blue Jeans out of the picture?

Zoom architecture still uses servers in the cloud to to stream video, like Vidyo and Blue Jeans – two startups that have raised tons of money. (VSee is peer-to-peer and only uses a server for http tunneling if peer-to-peer connection is not possible).

However, Zoom also has significantly higher video performance than either Vidyo or Blue Jeans. It is unclear how these two earlier hot startups will compete with Zoom.  A great advantage of Zoom is that it has a simple pricing — $9.99 for businesses and enterprises, $0.99 for education — unlike Vidyo’s complicated pricing model.

How does VSee compare with Zoom?

A key unknown is how much users care about security.  Zoom streams video to its servers, which have full access to your conversations.  VSee, on the other hand, uses end-to-end encryption where your conversation is always private, confidential, and off-the-record.

Another unknown is how simple the user design needs to be.  VSee has a simpler user experience compared to Zoom for creative team work, telemedicine, and telehealth. How much will people care about a few extra clicks?

The final unknown is the importance of global collaboration with people in developing countries where Internet speed is just not that great.  VSee requires significantly less bandwidth than Zoom making it the ideal tool in developing countries (Africa, Middle East, Latin America) where we have lots of users.

As for Zoom’s education focus, VSee not only offers free group video for anyone, it also gives all students free screen sharing as well.  Why pay for Zoom if you can get it free with VSee?

Please give VSee a try and tell us what you think! :)

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Is Cisco Umi Worth Rescuing?

Last week, video conferencing startup Tely Labs announced its “Rescue Umi” program as Cisco prepares to permanently end Umi services January 31. It’s an opportunity for Umi users to snag a good deal switching to Tely Labs’ similar telyHD offering. The marketing point of Umi and now telyHD is video conferencing on your HDTV without a PC — that is, telepresence right out of a box.

What killed Umi was its brow-raising price tag ($600) and ongoing subscription costs ($24.99 per month). This didn’t go over well with consumers, especially with cheaper, good quality, software-based video conferencing services popping up left and right. (Here are our reviews for a bunch of popular and alternative video conferencing services.)

TelyHD is trying not to make the same pricing mistake as Umi, but can such hardware approach make it in the end? The core VSee hypothesis is that video is only half the story; the other half is rich screen share that allows sharing photos, documents, slides, forms, etc. After all, this is how we work in real life. So even though VSee has great video, the VSee team is constantly thinking beyond just video  :)

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Correction: Google Has Not Dropped Vidyo

In an earlier article I had said that Google Hangouts had dropped Vidyo in favor of WebRTC. I made a mistake. Google Hangouts has NOT dropped Vidyo.  Moreover, Vidyo executives have contacted me to let me know that “Google has a great relationship with Vidyo”.  I have checked my sources and verified that Vidyo is indeed still part of Google. (It turns out it is rather complicated to figure out what Google is currently using for Hangouts and GoogleTalk.)

Will Google ever drop Vidyo?  It is hard not to get excited about what Google is doing with WebRTC.  Google spent $200M acquiring the building blocks – buying the company GIPS for audio and On2 for video.  Since these acquisitions, the Google WebRTC team has been growing like crazy – and is now one of the bigger engineering teams inside Google.

Future-looking innovative companies such as TokBox, TenHands, Twiliomeetings.io, and many others have also embraced WebRTC and are waiting to see what Google will do.

What do you think? Will Google eventually drop Vidyo and use WebRTC instead?  Is WebRTC ready?

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