Shockingly good video calls from Windows Phone
I have to admit that I experienced a discovery and an emotional shock not dissimilar from those experienced by people who saw Morse or Marconi devices for the first time, and this is what my post is about. This weekend Skype for Windows Phone has been released to all Windows Phone users, and I happened to be closing 2011-2012 skiing season in Kirkwood, CA, so I grabbed Skype from Windows Phone marketplace and decided to put it through the ultimate test: calling my family from the ski slopes live, from 8000ft altitude.
It has been a great season, and earlier I made a few posts on Windows Phone skiing apps. At that time Skype was available in beta, and didn’t make it to the review. Now it’s time!
It’s worth mentioning that Kirkwood Mountain has a great AT&T 4G coverage, most of the time Windows Phone was getting all bars. I suspect that this is because they have a couple of transmitters right on top of the Wall chairlift, at least they look like cell towers of some sort.
When I mentioned that my emotional shock from using Skype while skiing was of the same kind experienced by first Morse and Marconi device users, I was completely honest.
It’s Tuesday, a couple of days have passed, and I still feel that it’s the beginning of a completely new era in ski gadgets. It seems with Skype for Windows Phone you can now literally be out there with your friends and family real-time!
It started by calling my dad in Chicago, from the Wall chairlift. Skype’s full duplex video worked perfectly with just a ski slope AT&T coverage, and my dad spent 15 minutes of chairlift ride with me, virtually. Then I called my mom in Connecticut, and showed her the panorama of Kirkwood mountaintop, the snow, the lake, the rocks and the famous Kirkwood “EXPERTS ONLY” Skull and Bones sign. She was thrilled!
Next came the true challenge: can I use Skype in motion, while skiing? I skied down to a relatively flat part, turned on Skype on my Windows Phone, and started skiing down while still talking to my dad! Since Skype was using my front facing camera on my Samsung Focus S phone, I had to turn the camera downhill, for my dad to see skiing action on the mountain.
I think a pole mount for a Windows Phone would be something I would definitely explore in the future. Pole mounts provide a very stable video, placing the skier in the “center of the universe”, and minimizing perceived vibrations, because of the view angle. This is the kind of video you can get from a pole mounted video camera (this was taken by a dedicated camera last year, and I hope to replicate this with Windows Phone):
I will definitely try mounting a Windows Phone with Skype on the pole, to achieve similar results, but real-time.
Tips, Tricks and Observations
- Skype for Windows Phone will change the world. Definitely the world of ski gadgets.
- Works great even in the remote ski areas
- I spent almost 1 hour of video chats with my family, and my AT&T 3G/month plan had less than 200Mb consumed, pretty good!
- Conserve your bandwidth by asking the person on the other side to turn off his/her camera, this will turn it into a one-way video, after all it’s you who wants to show off!
- Mounts, straps for Windows Phone can turn it into an action camera/revolutionary device for the mountain