Synchtube is a free web service that will let you synchronize different media sources from all over the Internet within a single, convenient place. You’ll be able to invite friends to watch videos with you online, at the same time, or make your rooms public for others to browse.
Since the world is so much smaller these days, many of us have friends that live in very far away places. This is due mostly to the Internet making it easier all the time to interact and do things with other people online, no matter where they are. Online games, where thousands or millions of players can take part in the same fantasy, or online chat rooms where people drop in and out as the conversation dictates are just two examples of this phenomenon.
One of the things that many people have been doing for a while now is ‘watching TV’ together via online connections. It goes something like this: Bob wants to watch a video with Ellen and they live on opposite sides of town. They go into an IM or other chat together and both try to start the video at the same time. Then they are, ostensibly, watching at the same time and can communicate almost as if they were side by side. It’s the next best thing to being there and if it sounds odd or outlandish to you, I suggest you stay in more often.
This process, while it can be a chore to figure out a way that works for you and your friends on a regular basis, can be accomplished with a much lower level of muss and fuss by using synchtube. It only requires a name and email address to sign up, and you will be able to set up a brief profile if you wish. You’ll then be able to create a playlist of videos located anywhere on the accessible Internet if you wish, or you can go directly to creating a ‘room’ instead. A room is a web address, basically, that will allow you to send invitations to your friends so they can come join that page and watch videos there. Whomever has created the room will have control over the viewing matter, as well as who to invite in. When a video is played in the room, everyone who is in there will be sync’d up, watching the same moments at the same time, so Bob won’t be commenting on a joke that happened five minutes ago while Ellen is asking about something that won’t happen for another five minutes.
The interface is pretty easy to use, with a minimum of frills to distract or detract from the video viewing experience, which is a nice surprise on a site of this kind. It’s not bereft of ads, very few places on the net are, but it is layed out in a way that doesn’t annoy instantly. You’ll have a few options to work with, and the possibility of giving mod powers to others in the room so you don’t have to bear the burden alone. You can set a password to keep out unwanted visitors while videos are playing, and can even add a banner and change the background. Other than that, it’s all about the brief three steps to get the room, get friends, and get viewing. It’s one of the easiest and most self-explanatory sites I have dealt with, and the synchronization itself is actually pretty decent, without a lot of waiting around for one side or the other to catch up. Now, this will depend to a degree on the Internet connection of all parties involved, yours, theirs and the video host’s, but for the most part it worked quite well. There’s an option to run your playlists when you’re away from the keyboard if you like, and also an option to record the screen and chat. These options are there without being obtrusive. An alternative use is to create a playlist of videos, and have it running just for you, and if your friends want to wander in, they can at leisure.
I’d recommend synchtube for anyone who wants to hang out with someone that is far away, or even just people who want to share internet videos within an office (but don’t tell your boss I said it was OK). It’s fast, easy, doesn’t require a lot of installation or set up, and it’s entirely free. Until next time, my friends.
[Thanks to reader Panzer for the tip about this service].
Check out synchtube here.