WebEx Review: Online Meeting
|A pricey but robust and full-featured solution for larger workgroups; great video chat and iPhone app|
WebEx is nearly synonymous with the online meeting industry. A product of networking giant Cisco, it's probably the most widely used online meeting solution available. At $49.00 per month (per host), it's also one of the most expensive, though you can have up to 25 participants for that price. The company is currently running an online-only promotion for $19.00 a month, but at that price, the software will only support up to eight people in a meeting and only one host. Is WebEx worth the premium? Mostly, we'd have to say so.
Hosting a meeting requires the WebEx software, which downloads rather quickly and runs on Windows, Mac, Solaris and Linux. Attendees just need to download a browser plug-in to facilitate screen sharing and annotation. WebEx is a full-featured system, offering document sharing, screen sharing, remote control, whiteboards, chat, video, VoIP, and a call-in number. It's also one of the few to facilitate in-conference video sharing; just upload a video file and you can watch it together with your participants. Don't expect instant performance, however. Each participant must download the video. Also there are no video annotation tools such as those found with Fuze Meeting.
WebEx has an intuitive tab-based system for keeping track of the various presentation modes. For instance, you may have a whiteboard in one tab, a video in another, and an Excel document in a third. Like all web conferencing systems, WebEx allows you to share your screen, and you can decide if you'd like to share everything, or just selected windows or applications. You can annotate web pages or shared files using a remote-like menu which hovers over other windows. The drawing tools are very fluid and it's a snap to save your annotations.
Meetings can be set up using the web interface, which allows for advanced scheduling and password protection. These may seem like no-brainers for an online meeting product, but not all services offer them.
It's hard to fault WebEx on anything, though it lacks some of the panache and fun of Adobe Acrobat Connect and the HD polish of Fuze. It's been in the game for a long time, and given that it comes from a networking company like Cisco, potential customers should feel secure in WebEx's performance. In fact, WebEx had the best audio/video performance we saw, allowing five of us to share full-motion video that was nearly flawless.
Also worth mentioning is the WebEx iPhone app. You can use it to host an audio conference using your WebEx bridge number. You can also use it to attend a conference; it dials the meeting and allows you to see anything shared by the presenter's computer-based client. It will not allow you to view screen sharing, but documents uploaded to WebEx work fine. We were able to follow an uploaded PowerPoint presentation with ease.
WebEx gives you a 14-day trial period, with no credit card required. While WebEx does have the highest monthly cost, on a per-participant basis it comes out on par with Adobe Acrobat Connect. While you certainly pay for all the features and performance, small companies with a need for a robust online meeting solution will want to give this product serious consideration.
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- WebEx Review
Here is NextAdvisor's review of WebEx: http://www.nextadvisor.com/online_meeting/webex_review.php