Send video mail without the hassles, or the cost

Eyejot lets you send videos up to one minute long for free, with minimal sign-up or other hassles.

When e-mail was young (and dinosaurs ruled the earth), no doubt some IT managers swore that there was no way the people in their organization were ever going to have access to that time-waster. "Haven't we already provided them with telephones?" Same for Web browsers, which some workplaces still ban, or at least restrict severely.

I'm sure they have their reasons, but for most workers it would be difficult to deny the productivity boost these new technologies provide. Now the same restrictive IT mentality may be blocking the playback and recording of video. Yes, much corporate bandwidth is clogged with highlights of last night's Timberwolves-Raptors game (an epic matchup, no doubt), but other companies are using video to gain an edge on the competition.

Splish-splash, Chase is taking a bath
The point was driven home--literally--when we started receiving short videos via e-mail of our 9-month-old grandson Chase enjoying apricot-peach yogurt, bouncing in his play-seat contraption, and splashing in the bathtub. E-mail has never been used to better effect.

But the topper is that the service our son uses to send us the videos is free, and one that he uses in his business as a commercial real estate broker to connect with clients and associates. Eyejot has been in beta for about a year, but it couldn't be easier to use. Simply create an account by providing an e-mail address and a name, and then log into your inbox. If you've already received Eyejot videos at the e-mail address, they'll be waiting in your inbox, along with a "Welcome" video.

You can then take a snapshot to use in your profile, and which will accompany your videos, and provide other personal information, if you wish, though keep in mind that this will also be seen on your public page. However, your videos are private unless you check the "Publicly viewable" option in your inbox.

The free account limits your videos to 60 seconds, and your messages are cleared from your inbox after 30 days, though you can save the videos to your PC. For $30 a year you can upgrade to an account that allows you to send videos as long as 5 minutes, and they are never purged from your inbox. A paid account also loses the advertising that accompanies your free videos, and offers mobile access, along with a few other additional services.

The Eyejot video-mail inbox
After you sign up for your Eyejot account, the video mail you received is waiting in your inbox on the site.

The Flash-based service works with all operating systems and most webcams, and it follows the TrustE privacy policy. Eyejot has recently added a Site Widget that lets you add the service to your own Web site, as well as the ability to receive Eyejot messages via iTunes and RSS. There's even an Eyejot browser toolbar, though I didn't try this service, in part because on my 17-inch monitor I need all the browsing room I can get.

When you receive a video message, you simply click the image to open the video in a new browser window. As the video plays you're given the option to download it to your PC, or you can click the download link for the file in your Eyejot inbox.

The Eyejot video playback window
View Eyejot's Flash-based videos in your browser off the company's server, or download them to your PC.

My only question is how the increased use of video mail via such services as Eyejot will affect network throughput. For many years the people who manage the Internet backbone, and the many private networks that connect to it, have warned that video would ultimate clog the networks, which were designed to handle text and other simpler data types. I have a strong feeling that the Internet will find a way to accommodate the growing demand for video, whether by migrating to such technologies as Internet2 or IPv6, or by finding ways to squeeze more bandwidth out of current methods.

Tomorrow: your best desktop-search options.

About the author

    Dennis O'Reilly began writing about workplace technology as an editor for Ziff-Davis' Computer Select, back when CDs were new-fangled, and IBM's PC XT was wowing the crowds at Comdex. He spent more than seven years running PC World's award-winning Here's How section, beginning in 2000. O'Reilly has written about everything from web search to PC security to Microsoft Excel customizations. Along with designing, building, and managing several different web sites, Dennis created the Travel Reference Library, a database of travel guidebook reviews that was converted to the web in 1996 and operated through 2000.

     

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