Video mail is a technology that allows a user to record a video and then send it to another person as email. Creating and sending video mail is fairly straightforward. First, the user needs to record his or her message, using either a webcam or possibly a digital camcorder from which he or she can upload the file to a computer. Typically, a user recording via webcam will also need a microphone and recording software. The person will then need to send the file to the email address of the intended recipient.
Two main ways to produce and send video mail are available. There are websites that offer the ability to record and email video directly from the site. Other service providers require users to download a client to their PC or laptop. Some of these services are free, while others may charge for special features and additional functionality, or because video mail is part of a package with other services. Videos can be delivered as an attached file or as a link to allow the recipient to view them from a hosted server.
Video mail has several advantages over traditional email. There is no need to proofread and edit as there is with a written message. The sender is able to convey the appropriate tone and feeling behind the message, therefore eliminating misunderstandings that can occur when the message is simply text. Video offers a far more personal experience, so communications regarding special occasions or expressions of emotion may be more meaningful for the recipient. Users with certain physical disabilities that make typing difficult can use video mail as an easier alternative.
There are some disadvantages as well. Using video mail may be difficult or awkward for some people, and may require multiple re-recordings before the message is satisfactory. People who find writing more comfortable than presenting information orally may prefer traditional email. Depending on the service being used, there may be constraints on how long the video can be, which may not give users enough time to convey everything they need to say.
Certain limitations may impact the use of video mail. Some services and clients may not be compatible with all operating systems. Available bandwidth can affect both the quality of the user’s recording or the recipient’s ability to view the video. The sender may not be able to include any additional attachments when emailing a video.