Adobe Connect 9.2 – continuing to improve the meeting experience

With a heavy emphasis on creating a better web conferencing experience for participants, Adobe Connect 9.2 introduces a new mode to display video conferencing.

The new “Filmstrip” mode allows individual users to focus on the main speaker of the session while still being able to see everyone else who is sharing their webcam feeds – consisting of a main video and strip video. A big benefit for this new mode is it reduces bandwidth and computing requirements for participants. Continue reading

Does your online meeting tool speak your language?

Let’s face it: if you are using an online meeting solution chances are you are not using it to conduct a meeting with your neighbor, but rather someone located somewhere far away on this planet. Business is international and we have all managed to agree on a language to communicate with. But still we enjoy it when a business partner or colleague tries himself or herself in our native language even if they hardly get the sentence out. So the question is: if we appreciate the effort of others to address us in our language, why don’t online meeting tools let us address invitees in their own languages? Continue reading

LiveOn shows promise but doesn’t make it into our ranking

The Japanese vendor LiveOn asked us to test their online meeting solution. At the risk of spoiling the suspense: The tool didn’t make it into our ranking.

But let us start at the beginning. The basic functionalities are all there and if we had to choose the scenario this solution is best suited for we’d say it definitely is online meetings planned in advance. Video is the central aspect of the solution, displaying the participant’s webcam streams in the main window. Functionalities such as whiteboard and screen sharing can be added in separate windows.

Now to the shortcomings… The tool runs on Windows only which really is a large restriction as we pointed out earlier – “Mac users are being neglected”. There are neither one-click meetings nor recurring meetings, and you can only enter a meeting room at the time the meeting is scheduled, no earlier. When we started our meeting it took us 8 minutes from clicking “enter room” to actually arriving in the room. Finally, there was no pricing information posted on the website.

User-friendliness and meeting-setup are the two major areas for improvement. The solution shows promise, but currently cannot be considered a serious alternative to the market leaders.

ClickMeeting effortlessly becomes one of the ten best web conferencing solutions available

We usually don’t expect too much of a web conferencing solution when we run our initial tests, since most tools don’t live up to our standards. So finding a gem such as ClickMeeting is quite an exception.

The intuitive user interface and the overall user friendliness are a big plus. But ClickMeeting offers more than only good looks. Sharing content with attendees couldn’t be much easier, as this screenshot demonstrates:

ClickMeeting presentation options

ClickMeeting presentation options

ClickMeeting didn’t make it into the top 5, though, and that for a reason. You cannot switch mouse or keyboard control, so your options of truly collaborating are limited.

But still the whole package is very convincing, and ClickMeeting – previously not featured in our ranking – immediately jumps to number eight. Read our detailed evaluation of the tool here.

Dimdim 5.5 boasts a number of useful enhancements

A new release can actually bring improvements. Dimdim’s ease of use has really been spiced up. Screen sharing is now possible with a single mouse click. Ad hoc invitations via mail or chat are also effortless, all it takes is a little plug-in that needs to be installed locally.

A meeting-independent URL is another new feature which didn’t convince us, though. It does allow attendees to quickly join meetings, but the host has less control over who is actually attending. The new “action” buttons that have been included on Dimdim’s online portal are also a wee bit too large, but hey, they do get your attention.

More about Dimdim here.

BeamYourScreen makes a huge leap – from rank 18 to 6

Well done! After re-evaluating BeamYourScreen, which is now available in version 3.0, we found great improvements in ease of installation, structure, and security. The missing chat function is a big turnoff though. Still, if the overall trend is carried on with future developments, BeamYourScreen might very well find itself in our top 5 after the next evaluation.

Check out the complete test results here.

User-friendliness of web conferencing tools

As is clearly visible in our evaluations of online meeting solutions, user-friendliness weighs in heavily. And for good reason too, because if you want to present information online or have a virtual team-meeting you can’t waste time trying to figure out how to get a specific gadget to work. Meeting organizers and participants need easy-to-use software to operate quickly and smoothly.

User-friendliness does not mean – at least for us – hoarding functionalities in one tool. We favor the less-is-more approach to web conferencing. Packing loads of functionalities into one tool may make for a powerful software, but it takes time and effort to learn to operate it properly (e.g. WebEx). Splitting services into multiple tools with only a limited number of features gives the user an easy-to-use solution for his requirements (e.g. Citrix GoToMeeting, GoToWebinar, GoToAssist, GoToMyPC, and GoToTraining)

More details on our criteria for evaluation can be found on our homepage.