Hands-on with FaceTime for Mac

Hands-on impressions and video of FaceTime on the new MacBook Pro.

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With two brand new MacBook Pro laptops in hand, one of the first things we did was fire up the new FaceTime for Mac app and try calling each other from across the office.

The app is part of Apple's new-ish Mac App Store, and costs 99-cents, but it was pre-loaded on our pair of MacBook Pro review systems.

In our anecdotal use, the 720p webcam built into the new MacBooks worked well, and when conditions were right, jumping into fullscreen mode was clear and stutter-free. The connection took a few seconds to settle down most of the time, and for the most stable connection, we used a hardwired Ethernet connection. Wi-Fi worked as well, but the image quality could move up and down during the course of a call.

Besides the fullscreen mode, there's also an onscreen button for changing the video window from portrait mode to horizontal -- this affects both the large image of your call partner, and the smaller, inset image of yourself. The person at either end of the call seems to be able to switch the orientation at will, and both parties will see the change.

The app works with your existing iTunes account, and if you don't have one, you can sign up right from the FaceTime app. You can also specify a different e-mail address to use as your FaceTime contact point if you don't want to use your default iTunes account e-mail address.

The FaceTime ecosystem works over Macs, the iPhone 4 and the latest iPod Touch, and calls can be placed between them. We called one of the new MacBook Pros from an iPhone 4, and while walking around the office, the signal quality came and went, but we never lost the connection. On the MacBook screen, the video of the iPhone caller was low-res in comparison, but on the smaller iPhone screen, both sides of the conversation looked crisp.

For a closer look at FaceTime for Mac in action, check out the video demo above.

 

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