Friday, January 20, 2012

Free 6-Way Desktop and Mobile Video Calls

We’ve all been on conference calls at one time or another. They’re a good way to have a discussion when the people you want in the conference can’t all come to the same place at the same time. This is audio conferencing using telephones. These days, it’s pretty much old school.

What’s better? How about video conferencing? OK, I know that when you hear video conferencing you think of big corporate meeting rooms with formal presentations. That’s how video conferencing got started, but it doesn’t have to stay that way.

The big impediment to date for anything more informal has been the high cost of video equipment and connections. No more. Now that most desktop computers, smartphones, laptops and tablets have video cameras built-in, there’s no reason you can’t have video conferences anytime you want them and on the cheap.

How cheap? How’s free sound? You say that you already do that with one on one video calls using Skype or Apple’s iChat? Oh, but can you set up a group video chat with up to 6 people on any combination of PCs, Macs, iPhones, Android smartphones and various tablets? You can now.

What’s an ooVoo? It’s a cross-platform instant messaging client that supports voice and video chat with HD or regular quality video and desktop sharing. Non-ooVoo users can be invited into the call through Web video chat. Video messages up to a minute long can be recorded and sent to other users or shared on YouTube. Large files up to 5 MB can be shared securely. Go ahead and set up a web chat room for free.

Free? Yes, the basic ooVoo service is free to download and use to your heart’s content. It’s ad supported to keep the company in business. If you want to get rid of those ads and get access to more features, there are paid versions available for both personal and business users.

What sort of extra features? On the paid plan, video calls go from 6 way to 12 way. You can send larger files up to 25 MB, record and save your video calls, record and save audio conferencing calls, store and protect recorded video calls, share your desktop and add phone participants to your video calls. Phone minutes are included with the paid plan, but not with the free version. You also get security settings and live support with the paid service.

How about ooVoo for business? Licenses are available for 1 to 10 users and above, with cost getting lower as volume goes up. There are no ads, of course, and you can include both video and audio participants. As an integrated collaboration solution, ooVoo offers a combination of instant messaging, video calls, phone calls, desktop sharing and file sharing in one application.

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