As businesses look to trim costs but be more efficient in the way they do business, one area of interest is video conferencing. Being able to do a video conference with a fellow employee or a prospective customer who is on the other side of the country is much less expensive than buying plane tickets and sending a contingent of one or more to do a face-to-face meeting. Video conferencing, though, can tend to be pricey depending on the services that you want to have. Full-fledged installations can cost in the thousands of dollars. What’s a small company or a cost conscious CFO to do? Thankfully, there are cheap solutions available that will get the job done.
Here are some of the cheap video conferencing options available. They’ll be discussed in depth a little later on.
If you’re looking to do a 1-on-1 video call, Skype can do it and do it for free. The software needs to be downloaded from the company’s web site, and you’re ready to go once it’s installed. If you need to do a conference that involves more than one person, then Skype Premium is available for a very low monthly rate or for the cost of a daily pass. Besides offering support for three or more people, Skype Premium also offers help in the form of live chat support. Skype isn’t the prettiest solution out there, but it will get the job done without costing much money.
iChat is Apple’s chat client that comes available on the Macintosh. It works with AIM, Jabber, and Google Talk so you can collaborate with PC users as well. Apple has been working to beef up the features of the client. It can handle text chat, Internet calls, video calls, screen sharing, and document sharing. For video conferencing, this client is perfect for multiple users who all run on Mac OS X. If Apple were to add a whiteboarding function to iChat, it would be considered a basic competitor to Webex, one of the best video conferencing solutions out there.
Sightspeed is a great alternative to Skype. You can collaborate with up to 9 locations at one time. In-Call File Sharing is offered. There are administrative tools that can be used to customize the Sightspeed experience as well as offer reports for how the software is being utilized. Sightspeed’s technology offers high-quality, full-motion 30 frames per second video with clear audio and no delay. The company offers a free 30 day trial for anyone looking to check out their solution.
Yugma is a direct competitor with Webex. It’s free version allows you to collaborate with up to 2 attendees with 15 minute meeting limitations. If you move to the P Series, you can collaborate with up to 500 people. The A Series offering allows collaboration with only 30 users, but it also offers VoIP Audio Conferencing. There is also Yugma SE (Skype Edition) that adds instant desktop sharing and collaboration functionality to what Skype already has. Up to 2o users can conference in.
The solutions listed here are not meant to be a definitive list of the cheap video conferencing options that exist. Many other products are out there, and a savvy business manager can spend some time researching to find the product that will work just right for them. This list is meant to offer a flavor of what is out there, and set you on your way to low cost video conferencing. Take the time to check out the solutions highlighted. Some might work just fine for you, others might not be what you need. The bottom line, though, is that you don’t have to spend big bucks to be able to collaborate with others via video.
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