Hands-On AT&T's Video Share

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I played around with a few phones using AT&T's new Video Share service, which requires UMTS HSDPA, so it's not live everywhere. New York just got it this week, LA should have it by September. If you don't know what it is, it's a way for one person to show the other person streaming video during a call. Although one-way video streaming seems less logical than two-way, I can tell you that it's fun, and it seems like it would be surprisingly useful. The lag wasn't terrible, and you can carry on the conversation in speakerphone or on Bluetooth earpiece so that you can watch the action. But you have to have the right phone. (iPhone need not apply.)

Currently the handsets that work are the LG CU500v, Samsung a707, Samsung a717 and Samsung a727, with 9 to 11 compatible devices sold by AT&T by year's end. Also, like anything else, you need to pay extra for the service. It's $4.99 per month for 25 minutes (cumulative, not continuous) and $9.99 for 60 minutes. There's also an a la carte plan that's 35 cents per minute which actually sounds like the best deal of all. How many times a month are you going to be at the grocery going, "Hey, which variety of miniature eggplant do you want?" and really need the video. What's cool is that only the transmitting phone is charged for the service, though both need to be signed up one way or another.

It may occur to you to ask, as I did, whether or not you can save the video you transmit. The answer is, "Absolutely." The video you stream is cached to memory as you go. If you run out of memory, it stops saving the video, but keeps streaming it. I was a little bummed that the recipient can't save the video—AT&T says it's for privacy reasons. Hopefully we'll get some video of Video Share up so you can see it in action. I'll confess the reason I can't is because there's no AT&T HSDPA service in my densely populated NYC suburb. An issue that will have to be resolved before AT&T can become a tru playa in the Northeast. (Not just HSDPA. Even iPhones can only venture so far into our fair countryside before losing all connectivity, but that's another story. Or is it?) [AT&T Video Share]