SightSpeed Adds Videoconferencing to Mac, Linux

SightSpeed Video Messenger 2.0 expands support to new platforms as it improves performance over spotty Internet connections.

SightSpeed Inc. announced on Monday a new version of its desktop videoconferencing software that expands operating system support beyond Windows.

SightSpeed Video Messenger 2.0 gains support for Mac OS X 10.3, with support for Linux expected to follow in the next few weeks, said the companys CEO, Brad Treat. The new OS support allows videoconferences to be conducted among users on various platforms.

The new release also includes a revamped user interface that simplifies the contact list, video panel and controls into two windows from four and includes enhancements to the performance of video being sent over spotty broadband connections. SightSpeed requires at least a 128K-bps connection.

"A lot of the work we did in the 2.0 release was improving the ability to work on unreliable connections," Treat said, noting that such performance improvements are especially important for users connecting outside the United States.

Along with its introduction of its next version, SightSpeed, of Berkeley, Calif., announced a new pricing plan for its videoconferencing software. Version 2.0 costs $4.95 per month per user, or $49.50 a year, a dramatic reduction from its past pricing.

"Data from our users said that this price point was appealing," Treat said.

SightSpeed also launched a new option for its SightSpeed Web service, a product launched in October that offers videoconferencing through a Web site. Businesses can choose to customize their SightSpeed Web home page with their own look and feel, contact lists, and a unique URL.

The custom SightSpeed Web service costs $54.95 a month. Basic SightSpeed Web capabilities also are provided to SightSpeed Video Messenger users so they can connect to friends and colleagues through a Web browser.

SightSpeed supports audio either as voice over IP or through the public-switched telephone network. Its main differentiator is the ability to deliver video at 30 frames per second, according to Dan Miller, SightSpeeds chairman. That speed provides near television-quality video and keeps the video portion of a conference in sync with the audio, he said.