Buying Tips When Choosing Video Conferencing Features

By Jelani Harper
Updated: June 28, 2011

Video conferencing has proven to be one of the most effective means of communication in today’s increasingly global marketplace, as it provides a means of linking disparate parties with both audio and visual propinquity regardless of physical location. Varying video conferencing resources can enable users to exchange files, chat, and communicate with a host of others. Although different video conferencing products have varying capabilities, the following is a list of features which should prove valuable to an enterprise regardless of its size or specialty and which should be considered before a purchase is made.
 

File Transfer
 

This feature is essential for the transmission of varying types of files, and can typically be accessed when other video conferencing functions are employed. Security is optimized since users may transmit files to one another without the use of a third party.
 

User Datagram Protocol (UDP) Multicast
 

UDP Multicast is a feature which permits the transmission of video conferencing signals directly to one another without going through a video conferencing server. Depending on how many users are accessing it at a particularly given time (there can be hundreds), the server and its supporting network may become strained, narrowing the bandwidth of its channel. UDP Multicast avoids this situation by providing a direct feed between users.
 

Text Chat (Instant Messaging)
 

This is a particularly useful tool since it allows users to exchange verbal messages regardless of whether they’re in a conference or accessing other video conferencing capabilities. More advanced products enable features such as group messaging, instant notifications and offline messaging.
 

Instant Screen Sharing
 

Screen sharing can be of particular use for those who utilize video conferencing for the purpose of demonstration. This feature allows other users to get a visual of the demonstrator’s desktop and any applicable documents or data on it.
 

Whiteboard
 

This is another demonstrative tool which permits video conferencing participants to utilize a separate window for the exchange of information which may be visually inserted with whiteboard tools. Users can draw, delete and add information while utilizing slideshows, photos and other forms of documents.
 

Slide shows
 

Slide shows may be accessed during video conferences, and grant users the capability to show a variety of graphics (such as power point presentations, diagrams and photos) to one another.
 

Video Lecture
 

This feature is useful for training purposes, as it permits as many as 16 users to receive audio and visual data from a single speaker, who in turn is able to see and hear these users.
 

Multipoint Video Conference
 

This tool enables 16 users to connect with one another and to simultaneously transmit and receive audio and visual information from one another.
 

Video Meeting
 

This feature connects upwards of 100 participants in an audio/visual capacity in which the majority of the users can listen and see a finite number of users (typically three), who in turn can see and hear the others.
 

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