Free Videoconferencing, with Business Smarts

In response to a post I did recently on collaboration tools, a reader pointed out Elluminate Vroom as a good application. Vroom is an applicaton that lets you mix and match videoconferencing,audio conferencing, whiteboarding, sharing presentations and unexpected features such as polling meeting participants. It’s a free application, and after trying it, it definitely may be of use to some web workers, although I wish the free plan allowed for more than three participants in a meeting.

Once you register to use the Vroom application, a Java console pops up with an extensive set of features. You can upload a presentation for others to view, and share your desktops back and forth, where you control the sharing if you’re the moderator. You can also enable videoconferencing with the click of a button, or not go with video if some participants aren’t set up for it.

The free Vroom service is a scaled-down version of the full Elluminate web conferencing application. A toolbar in the application gives you access to quite a few useful features, and I especially liked the polling feature for meeting participants. As you share your desktop with others, you can text chat with participants, do an audio meeting via VoIP features, videoconference, and use writing, graphics and annotation features on a shared whiteboard.

If you choose to go with videoconferencing, Vroom gives you several choices as far as video quality goes. You can choose coarse grayscale video, fine color or other options. Video settings are adjustable, so you can optimize your session if you notice any herky-jerky behavior. You can also start VoIP-based audio conferencing with the push of a button, and flashing icons make clear who is speaking at any given time.

As with many products of this type, there is a distinction between screen sharing and remote control. As moderator, you can allow participants to share what’s on their desktops visually, but you can also hand control of desktops over to others during a meeting.

The only downside with Vroom is that you can’t have more than three participants in a meeting. By contrast, I recently experimented with ooVoo, and it lets you have six participants in a meeting. Nevertheless, Vroom is a scaled-down version of an enterprise conferencing product, and I suspect business users will prefer its features to ooVoo’s. If you frequently conduct online meetings with three or fewer people, or want to, try it.

Do you do online meetings? If so, what do you use?


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