Multiparty videoconferencing on the cheap

by | May 2, 2008 | jahlberg

We work with many of our clients to help determine the best communication platform to align with their business needs. Whether it be videoconferencing, web collaboration, conference calling bridges, IP phones, desktop video, or anything that helps people and/or teams communicate more effectively. We guide the process and support the end user after implementation.

To that end, I’m always looking for new platforms, such as ooVoo. This offering provides group desktop videoconferencing for up to 6 people in a single call. And it does it for free (for now at least). All you need is a webcam and download the ooVoo client, and you are good to go. Setup is a breeze and it even allows you to record meetings and do free audio calls, among some other interesting things. It even works with the MAC!

For me, videoconferencing needs to fit the following “rules” to be worth using:

  • Quality – Good picture quality and perfect audio. Everyone can handle some choppy video, but bad audio kills the communication.
  • Easy – For conference room systems it has to be something that allows you to walk in the room and just work. For desktop systems, it simple one/two clicks and it just works.
  • Cost – Depends on the need, but there are a lot of conference room systems that are price affective and some desktop options that play nice with the pocket book as well.
  • Reliability – It has to be reliable and work all of the time.

ooVoo
The advantage ooVoo has over options like Skype and other instant messaging software that do video like AIM and MSN, is that ooVoo does a really good job at providing high quality video and audio. My experience has been that Skype and the others do a mediocre job, at best, with a small often choppy postage stamp size video image. However with ooVoo, you get a pretty good sized image along with amazingly smooth video and really good audio. I wish it also had desktop sharing for more collaboration, but then again this is not specifically a platform geared towards business. Seems like it would work fine for small businesses or groups to use instead of more expensive, but more robust, offerings like Adobe Connect.

So how do I use it?
This is a new system for me so I have not had the time to use it much yet. At first glance, it looks a lot like the normal instant message tools. The big difference is that it does a much better job at video collaboration for one to one or a group or people over the other options out there. I’ve tried some of our professional tools to get my family, who are scattered across the country, doing videoconferencing, with little success. Mainly, firewall issues and installation needs have been the hindrance (not to mention my sisters family in Helena Montana that who’s ISP blocks video traffic). Using ooVoo should work like a charm for everyone so we can do group family calls allowing grandma to see the grand kids. There is no reason it will not work for the corporate world as well. I’ve just not had the chance to give it a try.

The beauty of the system is in the simplicity and the results. I did a test call with someone who has tried Skype, and the others, with such poor results, that she does not really use it any longer. I had her download ooVoo and make a test call and immediately she proclaimed that it was so much better than anything else she has tried and is eager to start using it. People who have tried the free video options before will get it immediately – ooVoo is easy and it actually works well.

Just be sure and go to Settings and adjust the video for 30 frames per second and higher quality if you have the Internet bandwidth.

You can check out ooVoo your self by going here http://www.ooVoo.com and let me know what you think.

John Ahlberg, CEO, Waident Technology Solutions

John Ahlberg
CEO, Waident

CIO in the corporate world and now for Waident clients. John injects order and technology into business process to keep employees productive, enterprises running, and data safe.

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