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I've been using Skype pretty heavily for about 2-3 years now, and I've been steadily becoming frustrated with its performance; things that may first off be acceptable, but after encountering them time after time simply become unacceptable.

In short, I'm looking for an alternative tool for video and audio chatting.

I've looked into a number of solutions, yet none of them come close to Skype. And that, I find, is depressing.

In my search, I have been grading solutions on a number of factors:

  1. Ease of use
    While I encourage advanced options, the application itself should be easy to use to begin with.

  2. High quality/performance
    Video and audio quality should be both high quality and configurable to my needs (transfer-rate and FPS limiting).

  3. Lightweight Interface
    Bubbles, emoticons, glossy graphics and customizable skins are fine for some people, but those options should be configurable and preferably disabled entirely if I choose to. Something like pidgin's interface is acceptable.

Aisde from Skype, I have tried:

  • Windows Live Messenger
    Terrible user-interface, focus is not on video and serves mostly as an advertising medium.

  • OpenFire + Spark
    OpenFire + Spark with the Red5 plugin was buggy and required a lot of configuration. Ultimately it became too frustrating to warrent its use.

    Web interface is clunky and video is low-quality.

  • ooVoo
    Another terrible interface, slow and not focused for video calling; see complaints about Windows Live Messenger

I'm starting to lose hope in my search for a more focused, higher performing and higer quality video chat platform other than Skype. What are the recommended solutions?

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What are the problems you find with Skype? – Hello71 Aug 4 '10 at 3:00
@Hello71: There are a few key issues (amongst many small ones): 1. Skype likes to predict what compression/framerate/transfer-rate to use, often having strange issues with lengthy calls making them choppy and laggy. Only restarting Skype (for both call members) seems to fix this; 2. At times, the Skype servers seem to be overloaded and calls can drop and can be unreliable (temporarily moving to another platform such as MSN, or waiting a few minutes being the fix); 3. Far too much surrounding (for lack of a better term) "bloat"; And I'd continue, but I ran out of characters. – gpmcadam Aug 4 '10 at 4:41
Get an iPhone 4 and use Facetime – Dwayne Samuels Aug 4 '10 at 15:46
@Dwayne Samuels: But then I'd have two problems. – gpmcadam Aug 5 '10 at 3:33

If you have a Google account, you can AV chat with all of your friends who have Google accounts too. It's integrated into GMail, and both Empathy and Pidgin support AV chats this way.

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I was under the impression that pidgin didn't support video chatting. Do I need a specific plugin to support the Google Video chat? Do you have any more information on this? I'd prefer a solution that wasn't dependent on the web browser. – gpmcadam Aug 4 '10 at 4:43
After some frustration, I have now learnt that video chat is not supported on Windows using Pidgin (which I only found out by joining their IRC channel). From the topic: "We only support voice/video (VV) on XMPP (not yet Windows)" – gpmcadam Aug 4 '10 at 5:10
Oh. Well, Empathy does that. (Linux-only) The GMail web interface allows for you to video chat from a supported web browser. – xsznix Aug 4 '10 at 20:25

I've had some pretty good conversations with

Web based, lets you video chat with up to like 20 people at the same time, easy, can invite non members, etc.

You're not going to get the most insane video quality though. It's acceptable though. At least skype has high quality video calls ( 640x480 @ 30fps )

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