Skype vs. Google Video Chat

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Skype vs. Google Video Chat

Skype vs. Google Video Chat

The sheer power of video is well-known; we all remember what it did to radio back in the ’80s, after all. But what would happen if video picked a fight with video? Curious, we tossed two of the top video chat options into a cage to determine the superior specimen. Skype may be the big man on campus, but the Google Video Chat plugin delivers the same features from within the Google ecosystem. There can be only one!

Round 1: Video and Audio Quality

Google video chat looks better, hands down. As you can see in the screenshots below —which were taken with the same device, on the same network, in the same time frame—Google's picture is clean and clear.

 

Whether you're using it in Google+, Gmail, or the Google Talk app, Google's video calls come through crisp and clear. And the UI is very clean and intuitive.

 

Skype, on the other hand, is much more pixelated and blurry, though still serviceable. There are more glitches and momentary freezes in Skype's video calls. Don't get us wrong, Skype is totally usable—just nowhere near as smooth as Google video chat. These results stayed the same across multiple devices and networks.

 

My God, it's full of blurry pixels! Skype's audio and video quality isn't anywhere near as crisp as Google video chat's, but it still gets the job done. (Just not prettily.)

 

The audio quality for both services is akin to talking to someone on a cellphone. As expected, group video chats degrade in quality as more users join in, though Google handles large groups better.

Winner: Google

Round 2: Device Support

Both video chat services do a bang-up job of supporting all the major operating systems, including Linux. The big difference lies in auxiliary device support. Google's desire to integrate video and voice calling into its ecosystem and Skype's focus on universal functionality come to a head here.

Google video chat is available on both Android devices and the iPhone via either the Google+ or Google Talk apps, but that's about it. Skype, on the other hand, makes video calls through its dedicated Android, iPhone, and Windows Phone apps, as well as a growing number of Smart TVs that either ship with Skype and a webcam or offer a webcam accessory.

On the social media front, Google video chat powers Google+'s Hangouts while Skype provides the muscle behind Facebook's video calling.

Winner: Skype

Round 3: Ease of Use/Installation

Google video chat is a browser plugin rather than a stand-alone program, so installing it is a marvel of simplicity: Install the plugin, then restart your browser. Boom! Done. (The desktop Google Talk app doesn't support video calling.) The service uses your existing Google ID so most people won't even need to go through the hassle of setting up an account, though Google chats only work in Gmail, Google+, and the GTalk app.

Skype is a stand-alone program, so it takes a bit more work to set up. The process is straightforward, but downloading and installing a large program, then creating a Skype account takes much longer than setting up Google's video chat plugin.

Both services are remarkably easy to use: Just select a contact and start jib-jabbering. Chatting couldn't be simpler.

Winner: Google

Click the next page to see rounds four, five, and conclusion. 

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