AT&T Video Share
A fun way to share your travels
Prior to leaving for the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) I received two AT&T video share cell phones for testing. A model a727 with a 1.5 MP camera and an a717 with a 2.0 MP camera. Both are Samsung products. These phones have all the other usual capabilities provided by AT&T. In the boxes were the phones, a manual, and a charger. My tests were to be mainly on the Video Share service for this review. AT&T currently has 11 Video Share phones available to customers. They require 3G service in both the originating and the receiving service area. 3G is available in many areas. The idea is to allow others to view video as you create it while also conducting a voice call. That is right! It is as much fun as it sounds. I spent a little time learning the basics of both phones. I also showed my wife how to accept or make a video share call. The plan was to leave the a727 at home and take the a717 with me to CES. I needed the clamshell a717 as it would get the toughest use since I would be carrying it in my pocket or backpack with much needed junk clanking into it all day long.
Operation is simple. Dial another phone that has the Video Share feature. When it is answered the user is given the option of accepting or rejecting the Video Share call. Perhaps you could imagine some circumstance where rejecting the video portion is the better choice. If the call is accepted the video you are taking appears on the receiving person’s cell screen as well as yours. The hands free speaker is automatically turned on in both phones to make conversation easier as you move the phone around to capture the best light or angles. If the person receiving the video share call wants to let you view something at his/her location the current call must be ended and that person must originate a new call and restart the process.
The a727 phone is rather straight forward as it is a flat (as opposed to a folding or clamshell phone). The camera lens is stationary on the back of the phone opposite the viewing screen. If you want to show something in front of you just point the lens at the object or event and it is there on your screen as well as the receiving one. Want to show yourself? Just turn the phone around so the lens points at you and there you go. The smaller LCD screen on this phone makes it harder to see details.
The a717 Clam shell has a lens on a swivel built into the hinge area of the phone. It can be a little awkward as you may need to move the swivel lens to get it pointed in the right direction. It is also possible to turn the swivel so the lens faces the LCD side of the phone. Unfortunately that means you are now upside-down. Video was pretty good for a 2.0 MP camera. I noticed very few dropouts. You can change the screen for Portrait or Landscape. Both Las Vegas and Key West have 3G service. Remember I was also calling from Las Vegas during CES with 140,000 other CES visitors using cell phones. That can cause major cell service overload.
Both phones need to be signed up for the Video Share service option. You can save the video file to the phone or Memory card just like any other file. Turning the speaker phone off or back on or even ending the video portion of the call does not end the voice call.
Cost could be a factor as the basic 4.99 a month video plan only gives you 25 minutes with each extra minute at 35 cents while the 9.99 plan includes 60 minutes and 30 cents per minute after that. These fees are charged to the sending phone’s bill. Video sharing newborn children and other loved ones will chew the basic times up in a hurry.
My experience with these phones was smooth and trouble free. I did have low light problems inside after sunset. It is not possible to expect perfect pictures in all circumstances. In full light the results were near perfect. My wife had no problems at her end of the Video Sharing. I did try to exclude the tables full of food from the video.
AT&T’s Video Share service is fun and often amazing. Once two-way video becomes available and as cell phone cameras grow to 3 or 4 or more MPs it will be a big attraction for many cell phone users.
As an aside I had need of the AT&T Mobile Email services during my time at CES. It was unbelievably easy to setup my AT&T and Yahoo Email connections. This service allowed me to be in contact with exhibitors and to react quickly to meeting requests or changes. It saved me $11.95 per day for a high speed connection in my hotel room. I will continue to use AT&T Mobile Email service when traveling.
For more information on Video Share and other AT&T services click here