First Experience with iChat

iSightSo I’m admittedly biased to H.323 videoconferencing and all the experiences that come with it. However this morning I had my first experience trying out iChat on my new MacBook Pro. I connected with Sue Porter who is on vacation in the Traverse Bay area in the northern lower peninsula of Michigan. She’s sitting on the deck outside their little cabin. The quality was great! Cell phone coverage up there is spotty at best, but great wireless Internet access. What a fun conversation!

It seems so easy and so cheap compared to room based systems. But I wonder how the sound works in a classroom and if it’s possible to hook up to a projector for a quality classroom experience. Plus of course you’d have to connect to other Macs only. There really ought to be a way to use iChat to connect to H323. Wouldn’t that be awesome? I wonder if Apple is thinking about that.

Anyway, iChat is pretty cool and another option for videoconferencing with other classrooms and schools that have iChat too.

0 replies on “First Experience with iChat”

  1. iSights are great! At Kigluait we use them all the time with our regular H323 system.
    They very easily allow us to get outside and roam around during our programs.
    It is true that the quality sinks a little, but not much, and if you balance a little loss of
    quality with the increased flexibility… it’s a good trade off (if you are doing the right
    things with it at the right times.)

    Also- if you hook up an external digital video camera, your quality goes way up and you are able to play with more options in external mics. And yes they are easy to hook up
    to a projector and classroom sized speakers. But in truth, I think the power isn’t in classroom sized connections… it’s in facilitated student to student connections.

    Our son is a homeschool student in a rural Alaskan school district, he uses his iSight a lot to to connect to students in the actual classrooms (200 miles away and over a mountain
    range). The schools all have H323, so they could use that system- I would be glad to
    make the connection for them. But he never asks me to, he does it himself through the iSight whenever his curriculum needs it and sometimes just to visit friends!

    I think it is very exciting to imagine what good, well informed, and energetic teachers could facilitate with partner teachers around the world- or just across town- with such simple tools as iSights!

  2. You should also check out xMeeting. I have had marginal success connecting my MacBook to a Polycom.

    “XMeeting is the first H.323 compatible video conferencing client for Mac OS X. In addition, XMeeting also supports the popular SIP protocol used by many VoIP applications.”

    There are also some spiffy features coming out in the next version of iChat/Leopard.

  3. Janine is right – iChat is very easy to use. I have a family of Mac users and before this
    vacation we connected both my son and daughter-in-law in Cincinnati and my
    daughter and son-in-law in my city of Grand Rapids (a great 3-way if everyone has
    high-speed internet) and figured out the food for the week – who was buying, bringing
    and cooking each meal. We even have my 89 year old mother in Florida set up with an
    older Mac and iSight camera so she can talk to her grand and great grandkids.

    Jason, I have used xmeeting also and found it to work great sometimes and not well at
    other times – there will come a day when we can all talk to each other no matter what
    system we’re on….won’t there?!!

  4. Hi to all. What a wonderful world we have when we can and do use technology.

    I grew up in the pencil and paper age and had to ask permission to use the telephone, and letters and responses were painstakingly slow, now I have so many instant ways to communicate I often find myself running away to hide in a book just to seek some peace and quiet.

    I do love technology and all the fun options there are and I also know, if I don’t use it now and learn to use it well, I will be left behind in the footprints of history and never catch up to the children and people of today.

    Life is Good!
    Janie Panagopoulos

  5. I have been an iSight proponent for a long time. In fact when I am most frustrated with the setup of H.323 desktop systems, I usually say why can’t it be more like an iSight. As Rich said above, there is a lot of flexibility for setting up external cameras and microphones so that you can get close to what a room unit will offer. The biggest draw back is that it is Mac only and there is nothing I know that works well on the Windows machines that will communicate with iSight.

    The other great thing about the iSight is that it works well over wireless. You can be outside and communicating which is very cool.

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