Whenever I set out to interview someone on the web, I tend to stick with Skype. Because of its massive market share and ease of use, it is very likely that the interviewee on the other end has a copy up and running. I would like to record said conversations for posterity as well as to retain raw call data to transcribe at a later date.
In the past, since Skype lacks an integrated call record feature, I usually would hack in several tools to accomplish the job, particularly if video was involved. For instance, I would use Audacity to record the voice (using the Stereo Mix interface via the sound card) and HyperCam for capturing the video, albeit with some dropped frames. Stitching this together is a bit tedious and sync issues can be present depending on how the video and audio recorded to disk.
In steps Pamela
At any rate, a company called ismail has heard the cries of Skype users like me wishing for a one-size-fits-all solution for recording Skype conversations. Their product, Pamela for Windows, is sure to delight its users, with features like video recording, conference call scheduling, sound effects, voicemail management and even blogging and 'PamCasting' modules for posting recordings directly to the web for public consumption. The user interface is very clean and the software plugs directly into Skype for instant access to contact information and direct dialing.
Since the feature-set can seem a bit overwhelming to get a complete grasp on, Pamela does offer excellent documentation via their online help guide as well as offering a special configuration wizard which steps the user through the various areas of Pamela, ensuring that all the essentials are configured exactly the way they're supposed to be. Of course, the regular settings area is available for power users who want to tweak Pamela with finer granularity.
In terms of recording quality, Pamela did a very nice job in capturing my conversations, all the while preserving the conversations exactly as they are on Skype with simple push-button controls. At the end of a recording, files are listed within the Skype recordings area for easy access. From there, you can choose to keep or delete them as necessary. If you desire, since Pamela uses regular audio and video file formats, you can import recordings into any multimedia editor of your choice for further refinement.
Now comes the price, or should I say prices. Pamela is offered in four separate editions:
- Basic is offered for free, but recordings are limited to 15 minutes apiece and you are unable to record video and audio together.
- Call Recorder is similar to basic, albeit minus the 15 minute recording limitation.
- Professional is even more feature rich, offering the blogging platform as well as voicemail and contact management.
- Business is the cream of the crop, which includes integration into Microsoft Outlook and priority technical support by Pamela staff.
Out of all the editions, I find Professional to make the most sense, mainly because it hits the appropriate sweet-spot on features and is priced appropriately at $32. Call Recorder is a few dollars cheaper, but you end up compromising a great deal and I personally don't think it's worth the money.
I'd definitely recommend Pamela for the avid Skype user on Windows. It's a great tool for recording audio and video calls with neat extras, like a rich text mood feed editor, call scheduling, and contacts management, all of which make Pamela completely worth buying. If you are more of a penny pincher and you are willing to sample 'offers' from a third-parties like Blockbuster, Netflix and Discover Card, ismail offers TrialPay for Pamela, which is just another way to acquire a license.
An avid technology writer and an IT guru, Matthew is here to help bring the best in software, hardware and the web to the collective consciousness of TechRepublic's readership. In addition to writing for TechRepublic, Matthew currently works as a Customer Success Professional for Ultimate Software in Santa Ana, California.