Web conferencing showdown: What's the best software for online meetings?

By Yardena Arar, PC World |  Unified Communications, web conferencing

You can arrange the various meeting-room panessuch as the video feed, the participant list, and the workspaceby using either preset or custom layouts. A Meeting tab has buttons for inviting others, recording a meeting, and leaving and ending your meeting.

But the real action takes place in the Share tab. You can share all or part of your desktop, a PowerPoint presentation, a document, a whiteboard, a media file, a Web browser window, or even handouts or other files. You can launch windows with different content in the workspace area and toggle between them. You can also hand off presenter duties, grant others access to your desktop, or request remote-control access to a participant's desktop.

I did find the audio setup confusing: The app prompted me to set up a dial-in line, and only by digging did I discover that you could use the computer's audio system. Also, at this writing OmniJoin hadn't yet enabled meeting recordings.

OmniJoin's basic plan for a single organizer costs $49 per month, supporting up to 30 users (but only up to 12 webcam streams), 720p video (more-expensive plans bump the video quality up to 1080i), and unlimited meetings. The company hopes to launch a Mac version this fall, which will make OmniJoin a more serious competitor to the likes of WebEx.

Cisco WebEx

WebEx was a pioneer in Web conferencing, and it remains a formidable competitor. WebEx offers a full range of sharing optionsdesktop, application, file, and whiteboardas well as webcam and either computer or phone-line audio. You can invite participants by email, phone call, or SMS text message, and follow up with reminders from within the browser-based app, which, unlike Citrix's GoToMeeting, doesn't require you to preinstall software. You can record meetings and upload the results to a meeting space, to which you can also upload related files.

You can start a meeting on the fly or set one up ahead of time, allow participants access to shared applications (so they can type in a Word document or an Excel spreadsheet, for instance), and designate another participant as the presenter.

One nice feature about WebEx is that only a little strip of a menu appears when you hover your cursor at the top of the screen, so you don't hide a lot of the content you're sharing.

WebEx offers a free plan for meetings with no more than three people, standard-definition video, and computer-only audio. The free plan does not allow application sharing, but it does let you share your desktop, documents, and whiteboards. It includes 250MB of meeting-space storage.


Originally published on PC World |  Click here to read the original story.
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