Centra 8 Review

By: Zach Shuster

Ever since the beginning of this school year, we have all looked forward to Centra 8 — especially when we were forced to have an extra reading week. Earlier this semester, we expected the Centra 8 update, but it was delayed until post-Spring Break. And alas, Centra 8 has arrived!

But what are the differences? The texture and colors seem exactly the same as before, Text Chat still has no emoticons (though I must admit I dreamed it did shortly after it came out), and there’s no “lag” icon alongside the “clap”  and “laugh” icons. Surely there must be some difference! While some may not have noticed the differences on the first day, they soon became apparent.

Centra 8 now features a more flexible multicam (technically termed “auto-switch”). If you want, you can keep it docked, showing only one person (though, by clicking the little arrows next to the video, you can toggle between different people). Now, up to eight people can get on multicam at once, a feature that was previously not possible.

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A comparison of the two logos; the old logo is on the left.

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The new logo is on the right.

Another notable feature is the logo change. Most people appreciate it, though some are not especially happy about it, and prefer the original logo. The logo is most likely accountable for the fact that Saba Centra is making a transition from “Centra” to “Saba.”

The video in Centra 8 is perhaps one of the biggest changes. Most people can see themselves quite clearly, while others see them much more pixelated. To make matters even more complicated, people in recording are quite clear. When the video is undocked, it is much smaller than in the original version.

Yet with these minor changes has come some newly discovered glitches. One of the most “entertaining” glitches is when the video, for reasons which we do not yet understand, starts to “spasm.” Scenes such as these below are examples of beautiful modern art, causing much distraction.

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Two screenshots from Centra 8 video “spasms.”

Ever since the first day, people have noticed that, the video automatically drops whenever someone joins the room. Indeed, this can cause quite a bit of confusion, since lag, for once, is not the problem. But this normally only happens during the beginning of class—that is, unless someone gets kicked!

Speaking of which, I have noticed more kicks. Now, not only individuals are being kicked, but sometimes the whole class! While this did happen before Centra 8, it has become much more prevalent since the upgrade to Centra 8.

Recently, Centra has, unfortunately, been acting up a lot, not letting many people in to class, taking forever to load, giving new error messages, and kicking people. Hints of consideration of switching to a new platform have been given in emails that were sent out by the administration after these widespread Centra issues were reported. “While OHS has used Centra for many years, in very recent times video based technologies have flourished and are attractive, so we are seeking to leverage these new technologies,” wrote Mr. Greg McCroskey, who is currently working with the OHS tech support team, “We began a process this year to engage with both well known and emerging software companies. We will have the right candidate when we find video software that delivers high quality and rich features. Our needs and the what the market delivers are coming together at this time.”

Centra 8 has come with some refreshing changes, as well as several substantial new features. However, with these changes comes a whole new slough of glitches to adapt to and deal with. We cannot say whether or not the OHS will stay with Centra. But while the OHS does, beware of the new traps Centra has devised, but also be sure to take to your fullest advantage the new features Centra offers!

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Categories: Science & Tech