Web conferencing and sharing software

Lately I’m getting even more remote clients than usual and sometimes you just have to demonstrate a product or design remotely because the team may be far-flung. So I started looking for Mac – friendly screen-sharing programs, whiteboards and presentation tools. It was quite the adventure as some of my clients can now attest, but I found some really great tools as long as you know which to use for which task. All of these Apps were tested on Macs and PC’s in Firefox, Explorer and Safari.

Here we go.

GotoMeeting, GotoWebinar
Everybody in PC land uses these and about 50% of the time it’s fine to attend on a Mac, but when it isn’t there’s pretty much nothing you can do. You also can’t present on a Mac. I know, they say you can, but it’s problematic at best. But on a PC you can, and integrate VOIP to boot. GotoMeeting is for small groups of 15 or less and GotoWebinar is for larger meetings of up to 1,000. Like WebEx, it’s been around long enough to have the important registration and follow up down pat. You can easily track registrants, gather feedback and download data for reports.

Pricing:
GotoMeeting starts at $49/month, GotoWebinar starts at $79, there’s also a pay-per-use option.

WebEx
WebEx has become the standard for webinars and presentations simply because they are so well organized. Registration, sending out invitations and follow-up are a breeze. They’ve been at it long enough to get most of the features that users want right up front. Again, I know they say they support Mac, but in my experience it’s been an iffy affair. MeetMeNow is for smaller groups of up to 15 and Meeting Center is for larger groups up to 25. Both offer Free VOIP or integrated Toll Teleconferencing.

Pricing:
WebEx starts at $39 for MeetMeNow and $59/month for Meeting Center.

Adobe Acrobat Connect
This seems like a pretty nifty solution. It works well on Mac and PC and it’s feature rich. You can present powerpoints either as a screen-share or uploaded to their server and played remotely. Desktop sharing works simply and even allows you to select which monitor to use if you have more than one on your machine.You can pause and take a screen-shot or annotate a screen with the whiteboarding tools. Recording the presentation for later viewing is not an option. The standard version is for 1 presenter and up to 15 viewers and then from there you have to go pro. The pro version offers conference calling as well.

Pricing:
You can do a pay-per-use plan, which works well in a pinch, but at $.32/minute per person it can add up fast. If you want more than one person to be able to present, you can get a 5 person pack for $375/month.

Vyew
Vyew is pretty feature rich, the screen size is good for both sharing and whiteboarding and free conference calling is included.

You can chat one on one or to the group and the presenter can set permissions for users on the fly. You can even set a custom URL and create your own look and feel for your “room”.

You don’t need to install a client and you can upload and share files very easily in MS Word, Excel, Jpg, etc.

It works on Macs or PC’s in most cases smoothly but there are a few glitches to be worked out. Apparently Vyew doesn’t use the standard Port 80 for it’s connection, and out of 10 conferences three had to move to another program because they couldn’t see the shared items or the shared desktop.

Pricing:
Vyew’s free version is quite adequate. You see some ads but they are not annoying. That said, I’ll support them for $6.95/month just because I think they really will have a great app here when they work some of these bugs out.

Glance
If you’re looking for a share and be shared desktop experience for Mac, this will do you well. It runs on a Java client, and I downloaded the client and was sharing my Mac desktop from a PC (of all things) in minutes. There are no bells and whistles. Conference calling is enabled but it’s not toll free and there is a bit of artifacting and screen stickynesswith big images. Not perfect for presentations, but when you want to simply demonstrate something on a screen you can give your user a url and a 4 digit pin and be sharing in seconds. The support team at Glance told me about a lot of features in the works and I, for one, will be watching.

Pricing:
Ranges from $49/month to $249 for a multi-presenter version.

DimDim
Despite the cutesy and very web 2.0 name, this is a pretty solid app. The meeting tools are full featured with Audio and Video conferencing, builtin VOIP makes communication simple. Desktop sharing is a one click operation and it works well on Mac or PC. There are a few less tools to use than VYEW, but the addition of video makes up for it. You are limited in what you can upload to only PowerPoint or PDF’s which I found a bit limiting and the only other issue I had was with the size of the screen-share window. Because of the chat and the video, the amount of real estate left for whiteboard and presentations was small and forced a presenter to scroll around on a large screen.

Pricing:
The free version is for up to 20 people in the room, DimDim Pro goes up to 100 people for $99/year.

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  • Allison T

    Thank you for this. I am a loyal Mac user and found both Webex and Gotomeeting to be less than satisfactory when I was driving. People give me a hard time about it when I’m the only one who can’t see the meeting. When will people get smarter about creating cross-platform software?

    I tried Glance too, and found it to work well for just desktop sharing. I hope they do add some chat and whiteboard features.

  • Very good summary of major companies out there. Also please consider my companies solution. My Company Great America Networks Conferencing offers simple cost-effective Video and WebConferencing usable anywhere there is an Internet connection on any type of computer. Fully cross-platform compatible for Mac and Linux users too.

    Sign up for a free trial here: http://www.freewebconferencingnow.com

    Feel free to contact me directly for a personal guided tour of the service.

    Anthony Russo
    Conferencing Consultant
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    arusso@ganconference.com
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    Phone: 312-432-5377
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  • Sarah I.

    I often need to work on projects with people on Macs, and as a grad student, price is a huge concern. I’ve been using Yugma- it supports Mac and allows Mac users to share their desktops/document. They also allow monthly subscriptions ($10 a month)so I can just downgrade my service to their free service during the summer and upgrade again when school starts.

  • Janet, congratulations on a very informative post. And I understand your dilemma with Macs (I’m writing this on a MACBOOK)

    I write blog on inexpensive (hopefully free) technologies to accessed via residential high speed internet connection. Your article was very informative.

    Thanks again

    Frank

    Frank Costellos last blog post..HIGH SPEED INTERNET- YOUR GATEWAY TO FREE ENTERTAINMENT

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  • Affordable Web & Voice Conferencing for Everyone

    GatherPlace is a web and voice conferencing solution that helps small and medium-sized businesses optimize sales, support and training by letting you present and collaborate in real-time across multiple locations. Not only powerful, but inexpensive! Starts at US$29 per month for 5 guests.

    GatherPlace supports remote presentation and desktop or application sharing using computers running Windows™, MacOS™, or UNIX™. Less expensive than WebEx, GoToMeeting and other competitors without sacrificing features. In fact, we do more than they do!

  • Affordable Web & Voice Conferencing for Everyone

    GatherPlace is a web and voice conferencing solution that helps small and medium-sized businesses optimize sales, support and training by letting you present and collaborate in real-time across multiple locations. Not only powerful, but inexpensive! Starts at US$29 per month for 5 guests.

    GatherPlace supports remote presentation and desktop or application sharing using computers running Windows™, MacOS™, or UNIX™. Less expensive than WebEx, GoToMeeting and other competitors without sacrificing features. In fact, we do more than they do!

  • Kenny

    Hi! Nice post with enough details. Thanks for it. I would like to recommend RHUB's 4-in-1 TurboMeeting appliance that provides secure web conferencing, remote support, remote access and webinars. I attended a meeting once using RHUB (http://www.rhubcom.com) in my office. It was really neat and user friendly. It's little bit different from the other solutions since it's appliance based. It is multi-platform-supportive and also offers more security. By the way, its a one-time fee product so you don't need to pay monthly.

  • Kenny

    Hi! Nice post with enough details. Thanks for it. I would like to recommend RHUB's 4-in-1 TurboMeeting appliance that provides secure web conferencing, remote support, remote access and webinars. I attended a meeting once using RHUB (http://www.rhubcom.com) in my office. It was really neat and user friendly. It's little bit different from the other solutions since it's appliance based. It is multi-platform-supportive and also offers more security. By the way, its a one-time fee product so you don't need to pay monthly.

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