Teaching the Mini-Note to Video Conference With Skype

For me to truly replace my laptop with the HP Mini-Note it must, and I mean must, be able to run Skype. I sign into Skype daily to talk to my old colleagues and I periodically video call with my sister in California and my friend in China. So when I read jkOnTheRun’s review of the Mini-Note and that the system struggled to make video calls I was less than thrilled. videocalling.jpg The Mini-Note handles chatting and audio calls over Skype just fine. A Skype to Skype call to my uncle in Denver, Colorado was very clear; he complained about an echo on my end, but when I plugged in a headset that disappeared. However, when we both enabled video calling, the VIA C7-M processor and the system’s 1GB of RAM just couldn’t produce. The system was very sluggish and and video was extremely choppy. In a few instances Skype simply just disabled video all together. Figuring that the integrated webcam is built-in for some reason, I have been trying to improve the poor video quality. Closing all other applications running on the system helps. Going into the task manager and exiting all tasks takes care of making sure they aren’t running any more. joanna-matzow.jpgChanging the screen resolution through HP’s preinstalled S3TrayPlus utility also improved video. Dropping down from the native resolution (1280 x 768) to 1024 x 600 loosens the processing demands on the VIA CPU. Tweaking the color-depth also seemed to work. In Display Properties on the Colors drop-down menu, I changed it from 32-bit to 16-bit. What helped the most was changing the virtual memory to 8084MB which increases RAM by assigning part of the hard drive as virtual memory. You can do this too if you:

  1. Open the Control Panel
  2. Select the system icon.
  3. Select Advanced System Settings.
  4. Toggle to the Advanced tab
  5. Select Performance Settings > Adjust for Best Performance.
  6. Select the Advanced tab
  7. Set the Virtual memory to 8084MB. The reallocation won’t take place until you restart.

These tweaks still produced pixelated video, however, the video rarely paused and audio was also able to come through. In a video chat with my uncle I was sending video at 8 FPS, and receiving 12 FPS. It isn’t the most ideal situation, but it is at least some what of a video experience. Is there anything else I can do to improve video calling on the Mini-Note, besides getting a new graphics card?

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  1. cunni Says:

    Honestly,

    I think you’ll have to wait till HP will use the new Isaiah-CPU. According to benchmarks, even “the high-end” VIA C7-M 1.6 GHz CPU is only about half of the speed of an intel atom or isaiah with similar clocking. Even the Intel Celeron 900 MHz as used in the EEE-PC is way faster.

    CPU and GPU are just too weak to run a video @ at least 15 fps – which is neccessary to have a smooth video experience.

    It is really a pitty that they equipped such a nice book with that slow CPU/GPU-combo!

  2. bluemonq Says:

    Actually, is there a way to upgrade the RAM? From experience, running Vista with less than 2gb of RAM is painful, even with Aero turned off, etc.; running with 2gb or more makes the experience tolerable.

  3. Brad Linder Says:

    I have a 1.2GHz model, and none of these tricks really improve performance with the webcam. Honestly, I’m not entirely sure why HP bothered putting a webcam in the unit at all.

  4. Dave Zatz Says:

    Nice screengrab, but is it kosher for Passover? ;)

  5. Royce Mathew Says:

    The OQO 02 has been using similar VIA chips for some time and their users have run into similar problems with skype. You might want to try some of their suggested tweaks.

    Here is a good list of OQO 02 skype tweaks:
    http://www.marcuscake.com/oqo.html

  6. JohnE GQ Says:

    guys! everyone misses the simple answer!!! XP Lite edition!!! Take an original XP that we all have, run the free utility nlite to remove the GIGABYTES of unwanted junk (languages, services…outlook express!). Turn off junk services like “Fast Switching”, “Terminal Services”, and even go extreme with disabling “Themes”. I guarantee that Skype video chat will work.

    ALSO, anyone want to show a little technical savy and give us bench scores from Linux version? How about Skype on a linux version…

  7. Big Nick Says:

    That’s what I’d like to see – Suse Enterprise looks just as productive as a windows system, and I imagine it’s way stripped down in comparison to Vista – I’d skip vista for linux in an instant if it’s considerably faster.

  8. Some Guy Says:

    “Figuring that the integrated webcam is built-in for some reason…”

    That reason would be “Marketing”. Or more accurately, “Marketing BS”.

    They can now advertise the computer as having a built-in webcam. That doesn’t mean it’s usable though.

  9. Teleconferencing Says:

    The idea which I got from a conference room environment that delivered an experience which is so true to life an executive could use the solution instead of spending time and money traveling to meetings. The investment which I made on time the returns of the company justify the expense. The profits margin has increased tremendously.

  10. Benefits of Vdeo Conferencing Says:

    Once I was video conferencing with my college classmate and I had to go on a bathroom break, my computer was completely idle till when my kid sister thought it was just a movie so while she was just playing around with the mouse and my classmate scared her by conferencing. It was very scary for her but it was funny.

  11. Fduch Says:

    >Take an original XP that we all have, run the free utility nlite to remove the GIGABYTES of unwanted junk (languages, services…outlook express!). Turn off junk services like “Fast Switching”, “Terminal Services”, and even go extreme with disabling “Themes”.
    All that features take about 20 Mb not “GIGABYTES”.
    You are a liar.

  12. תיקון מחשבים Says:

    Hi,
    Anybody successfully, capture the skype video and audio and save it as a .avi or .mpg file with voice and audio in sync ?
    Thanks in advance, Mike

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