Skype has become so popular since its launch in 2003, it's accumulated more than 700 million registered users. One of the biggest advantages on Skype, aside from the free calling, easy video conversations and services like SkypeOut and SkypeIn, is how easy it is to record conversations. But most Skype recorders aren't free, or they're limited in some way. Free Video Call Recorder for Skype (download here) might have an uninspired name, but it claims to be completely free and unlimited in any way. See also: How to record Skype calls.
According to the vendor's website, Free Video Call Recorder (or FVCR) is "the first free Skype video call recorder in the world for recording Skype calls without any limitations." That's quite a claim for DVDVideoSoft to make, but it does seem that most recorders either cost money, record only audio, or are limited in some other way. But is it really without any limitations? See also: Skype for Windows 8 review.
FVCR is a simple, lightweight program that comes with three different settings: Record all sides (picture-in-picture), Record other side only, and Record audio only. Upon my very first try with the first setting, I already encountered a slight limitation: You cannot record video at all if the other side didn't turn video on. This means there's no way to record your own video with the audio conversation, but I guess that makes some sense--chances are you don't want a recording of your own video. You can, however, click the record button when video is off, and it will automatically start recording when it's turned on.
Using Free Video Call Recorder for Skype
Using FVCR is extremely simple. Skype will automatically launch as soon as you start the recorder, and after choosing your setting, you can start your conversation and hit the record button. You cannot start recording before a conversation is live. If you want to stop recording for a while but keep the conversation on the same file, use the pause button. The stop button will save the file, and hitting record again will start a new one. Pausing a session is seamless, creating a barely perceptible jump in the file.
The audio recording quality very much depends on the equipment you use. I got some pretty dismal audio recordings when using my laptop's built-in microphone (although I received no complaints about poor audio during the call), but excellent ones when using my headset. The program creates mp4 files for video calls and mp3 files for audio calls, which it automatically saves in the directory of your choosing. Note that if you change the default directory, you might find that it has reset itself when you restart the program.
Video recording is also surprisingly good. The mp4 file includes the other side's video on most of the screen, with your own video in a smaller frame on the bottom right corner--much like it appears on Skype itself. The program comes with a hang-up feature, so when a conversation ends, it automatically stops recording. This could be great if you tend to be forgetful, but it's a bit annoying if you did not actually mean to disconnect. In addition, if the other side turns off video in the middle of a recording, the file shows a frozen frame for the entire time the video was off.
All in all, Free Video Call Recorder is an impressive utility that makes it very easy to record both video and audio Skype conversations. It truly has no serious limitations to speak of, and there are only two features I would like to see added: a way to choose between several recording qualities, and some kind of notification reminding me whether I'm recording or not. Not everyone would remember to turn recording back on after a simple disconnection occurs--and these happen quite often on Skype. See all Software reviews.
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