Long-distance video sharing is often an asynchronous affair. Links are shared via e-mail or an instant message, and the other party is expected to watch it whenever they get some spare time. Enter Synchtube, a site that thinks the contrary. Instead of your friends and family watching that video whenever they please, it gives the sharer complete control of how and when that video plays.
Synchtube is simple to use and requires no special sign-ups. Interested parties need simply to come with a YouTube video link to get started. The service then creates a special URL for a video room that is good for three other people to join. Included is live text chat and a heads-up display of each user's timeline that shows what part of the video everyone is on. The person in control can then jump the group to a particular part just by dragging their own player's timeline.
In our brief office testing, Synchtube's system worked well for the majority of the video, but we ran into a few quirks. One of the people we sent it to could not see the video at all, while another hit a show-stopping YouTube error that required refreshing the page for the player to re-appear. These are definitely not the kind of problems you want to run into while sharing something with nontech-savvy relatives. That said, it may work better for you than it did for us.
Synchtube is just the latest in a long series of services that have attempted to make Web video watching a real-time group experience. Lycos tried it a few years ago with its 6Rounds and Zorap's live video conferencing tools have offered live video watching mixed in with group chat. To a lesser degree, YouTube offers its own social-video watching experience with its Streams service, however it is less focused on everyone watching the same part of the video at the same time., and more recently