Skype HD Video Calling

Finally my video in Skype, v5.9, is in HD and it only took a $8.5 billion purchase from Microsoft. I think that Logitech had an agreement with Skype to only allow their “Skype Certified” cameras to enable HD and now that Microsoft owns Skype their cameras automatically.

For the past few years I’ve tried everything to get my video to be HD, new web cameras, editing configuration files, forwarding ports. Even though I tried everything in my arsenal of tech tricks I always got the “watching YouTube on my iPhone over 1xRTT” quality” or 360p on good days. If you use YouTube you can see that 360p is just above undecipherable.

YouTube Video Quality Settings:2012-05-06_220912

I don’t know why but I decided to upgrade Skype and, BAM, HD video. I couldn’t believe it. Everything I did in the past and out of nowhere it works. The video quality was so bad that I started to use Google Hangouts, more on that later. I hung up and called my friend back and, BAM, HD. Just to verify I restarted my computer and I still was able to send in HD. 

When in refer to HD I mean anything above 480p or 704×480. The video I was sending is in the 720p or 1280×720. I believe that my camera can send 1080p, 1920×1080, but not everyone has the resources to view the video. As you can see below I was sending my video out at around 400KB/s and using about 20% of my CPU. My computer not the latest and greatest but it is pretty fast (3.5Ghz 4 core HT) and I have a pretty speedy broadband connection, 50/7, from Comcast. Viewing the technical info of the call the average upload, sending video, was 480KB/s where as the download video, receiving was 112KB/s. All that means is that you need to have a decent computer and a middle tier broadband connection and you should be able to send HD video with a capable camera.

Network Usage:
Skype Network Usage

CPU Usage:
Skype CPU Usage

Doing some testing I found that Skype tests the connection and a few other things to make sure you can send in HD. I made a video with my brother Aaron to demonstrate. About 50 seconds in you can see my video change from a letter box, square, to widescreen, rectangle. You can also see that my network usage goes from 350KB/s to about 360KB/s. Aaron wasn’t able to get his video to send hence the letter box window.

HD Test Call






HD Video Recieve
Above you can see a screen shot of what the HD video looks like on the receiving end it’s about twice the size and not as blurry.

Yes I know my office area is a mess, I’m moving :).

I started to use Google hangouts when it launched a few months ago It had minor “beta” issues but was still better than Skype since it uses less processing power and allows multiple video calls for free, Skype makes you pay $10 a month, I tend to use it more. Some of the people I talk to have slower computers and can’t do anything else when they talk on Skype. Which brings me to the only negative of HD video when using Google hangouts. The quality of video on Google Hangouts is in HD resolution (size of the video) but still has some pixilation since, I think, the video is relayed from their server to your computer and not a direct connection like Skype. 

Either way they are both great technologys but I’ll probably use Google hangouts and Google Chat because they work natively on Android phones.

Battlefield 3 Download Speed

Origin has some pretty decent infrastructure since I got an average of 2.74MB/s down during the first 2 hours of the open beta being available. I hope its this fast when I have to download the real game.

    Incoming    Outgoing
    ========    ========
Current Transfer Rate    3.64 KB/s    1.50 KB/s
Average Transfer Rate    2.74 MB/s    52.9 KB/s
Maximum Transfer Rate    7.04 MB/s    131 KB/s
Total Data Transferred    3.48 GB    67.2 MB
Since    9/29/2011    9:24:02 AM

Elapsed time: 00-21-41

New Modem – Motorola SB6121

We were having some issues with Comcast with our connection dropping, T3 timeout error, and a manager said that my modem was the old model. Naturally I order the SB6121 and decided to get it next day air though Amazon. Amazon Prime is fantastic. I ordered it at 5:45pm on Friday and it arrived at 10:00 on Saturday.

I believe the modem gets one more channel upstream bringing my upload to 8Mb from 5Mb-6Mb but we still get the T3 errors. I think it’s the Comcast line coming in to my house and Comcast says it my equipment. I think the next step is using their modem(….yuck).

Still Fast

Quick speed test 60/3.3.


I upgraded to a WNDR3700 running DD-WRT. I remember a few years ago when I was running DD-WRT there was an app that would let you know what IP was using how much bandwidth. It was close to iftop but did it on the internal network. Ill dig around and see if I can find it and get it installed.

Next step? Try to figure out why I never get host on Halo.

Comcast 50/10. Yum

Using ftp site I was able to test my internet without having “burst” skew my result. I downloded the 512mb file three times with an  average maximum transfer rate 6.8MB/s.

    Incoming    Outgoing
    ========    ========
Current Transfer Rate    881 bytes/s    1.23 KB/s
Average Transfer Rate    5.90 MB/s    110 KB/s
Maximum Transfer Rate    6.75 MB/s    139 KB/s
Total Data Transferred    531 MB    9.64 MB
Since    8/27/2011    7:17:32 PM

Elapsed time: 00-01-30

    Incoming    Outgoing
    ========    ========
Current Transfer Rate    264 KB/s    5.33 KB/s
Average Transfer Rate    5.97 MB/s    110 KB/s
Maximum Transfer Rate    6.77 MB/s    131 KB/s
Total Data Transferred    531 MB    9.60 MB
Since    8/27/2011    7:19:15 PM

Elapsed time: 00-01-29

    Incoming    Outgoing
    ========    ========
Current Transfer Rate    901 bytes/s    3.51 KB/s
Average Transfer Rate    5.73 MB/s    106 KB/s
Maximum Transfer Rate    7.11 MB/s    132 KB/s
Total Data Transferred    533 MB    9.65 MB
Since    8/27/2011    7:20:54 PM

Elapsed time: 00-01-33