by October 1, 2011 0 comments



Today, it is not possible to run a business sitting at one location only, you need to move around, meet clients and most importantly collaborate for business benefits. However, enabling efficient collaboration for employees on the go is one of the challenges most businesses face today. Web conference is one of the simplest and cost efficient way to overcome this challenge. All you need to conduct a webinar is a computing device, Internet connection with decent bandwidth, webcam, mike and speakers. There are lots of web conference solutions available in the market, each having their own feature sets. The goal is to make all participants present at a single place. We evaluated some solutions that offer right web conferencing features like screen sharing, file sharing, video conference, live chat, presentation recorder and meeting scheduler.

Cisco WebEx

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Cisco WebEx is one of the leading online meeting centers. WebEx is a secure and reliable web-conferencing solution for both SME and large enterprises. It enables you to collaborate and easily organize meeting over the web from anywhere. WebEx has a wide range of features, for instance, the WebEx Meeting Center can hold online meeting for up to 25 participants at a time from your desktop or laptop. Once a webinar begins, it gives you the ability to share presentation, documents, web cam, and demo applications. It also has integrated teleconferencing facility. WebEx web-conferencing is extremely user-friendly, with just mouse clicks you can share your desktop remotely, have audio/video conferencing and share files with the participants. It allows you to schedule meetings for future or start instantly and invite your employees or co-workers to join via email, text message or just giving them the web address over the phone. Once an invitation is sent, participants can join easily by clicking the link given to them and feel like sitting in a conference hall. As an organizer of meeting, you have the option to record your meeting. You can also chat with the meeting members and put notes for anyone during the meeting. WebEx can be launched on any Windows, Mac and Linux/Unix supported systems.

What lacks in it is the limited number of participants which is least amongst the four. They do allow you to bring more participants in your meeting, but for that you have to make a request to their support team and pay per minute for every individual participant.




WebEx is a user-friendly software having many features. Only concern is that you need to pay for additional participants beyond 25.

Anymeeting

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This is a free, easy to use web conference or webinar service with enough features to make web meeting a treat. Anymeeting collaborative tool, also known as freebinar, is an advertisement, which makes it free and ideal for those who have no issues with ads since there is no option to upgrade to an ad-free service. They have integrated kayako helpdesk to give support to their clients which includes ticket management and knowledgebase. Once the registration is done, you are asked to give a unique web-address followed by anymeeting.com. It gives you a phone number for conference call with a unique presenter PIN and guest PIN. You can also connect your Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn account with it. It also allows you to upload your logo on the home screen and on the invitation. It has one-click desktop presentation option by which you can share your desktop screen or any other application with the attendees and also has the ability to record your conference. Anymeeting also gives video conferencing facility, live chat with the participants. You can schedule a meeting for future, set polls to have collective views over a topic, keep track with your past webinars or recorded meetings. You can add up to 200 participants in a single webinar which is only less than join.me web-conference suite. It has a unique feature to take the attendees to any other web page if you are ending the presentation. To set up conference call, it gives you a call number, presenter PIN and guest PIN. AnyMeeting is an attractive option for cost-conscious users supporting their web collaboration needs.

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Vyew

Similar to other collaboration suites, Vyew also has a set of solutions that can help employees of an organization to perform efficiently while on the move. It is a browser-based collaboration tool hence requires no downloads. If you are mainly looking for collaboration and file sharing, Vyew can answer your basic needs. To start a webinar, a user just need to create a room and then invite participants via email address and give them a conference call number. You are allowed to set role for the participant as a viewer, collaborator or moderator and you can also set password for users to enter your webinar. After invitation, the participants can enter your lobby, from where you can do live chat with the individuals or with all. During a webinar you can share your desktop with them. It has a pen tool allowing you to do freehand writing or drawing. Like other collaborative tools, it also has video conferencing facility, file sharing ability and you can schedule meeting as well. What makes it different is that, you can import any web page by giving its URL and show to your participants. There is also a sticky notes comment tool to leave comment for any participant during the meeting.

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Vyew has three different versions, the free version allows you to invite 10 users and is advertisement supported. For professionals, there are two versions -Plus and Professional. The later version costs Rs 895 per month. It offers branding and extends the number of participants to 80. It lacks in sending file to a particular participant and has no option to record meeting.



Join.me

Join.me is a web-conferencing service from the creators of LogMeIn. It requires Windows or Mac platform for its operation. The software has a free version and a pro version. The free version allows you to share your screen with no registration required. You just need to go to their website, click on Screen Share button. A file will get automatically downloaded, run it and you are ready to share your screen by inviting others on the web page. To enjoy other features like live chat, schedule meeting, screen control and file sharing, you have to bury and upgrade to join.me pro version. Starting a new webinar with join.me is very simple; you just need to schedule a meeting, invite participants and save the meeting to calendar. You can even schedule meetings for future and set reminder for that. Once a meeting is scheduled, it can be started anytime. You can share your screen remotely with up to 250 participants in a meeting, which is highest amongst all mentioned here. You need to give them a unique nine digit code to enter the meeting without that code no participant is allowed. On the meeting screen, you can see option to pause screen sharing leaving participants to see a static image of your screen. This comes handy when you want to shift from the meeting to do some other work. At any point in the web conference, you can give your screen control to a remote user, allowing him to control the mouse and keyboard of the your machine. The screen includes live chat option to send messages to all and you can share files with others by just clicking on their name and selecting the file to send. For doing conference, it gives you a conference number to call, by dialing that number you need to enter your 9 digit unique id followed by #.

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The only drawback in this is that, it does not have a password to access it. So if you leave it without being closed or locked, people can randomly get into your computer by just entering your join.me name or conference number. Also it does not include web-cam or mic option so that you can present yourself to the meeting attendees.

Final Verdict: Anymeeting is clearly the best webinar service not only because it is free but also it has the best user-friendly interface; can host secure meeting with up to 200 participants which is ideal for the SMB. Only concern with it is advertisement, if you do not want advertising and are ready to spend money then you should go with Cisco WebEx.

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