The Webinar Saga

Webinars are an excellent tool for many businesses. For any application where it would be good to present information direct to a number of (current or potential) clients or customers, the idea of being able to talk and show information from the comfort of your own office has great appeal.

I’ll be coming back to this them later.

With one of my clients in particular, I have been exploring the capabilities and ease of use of a number of readily available webinar systems. We’ve been challenging the technology as we’ve been looking for a number of features which seem to test the furthest reaches of what is currently available.

1. Desktop sharing

2. Recording capability (preferably also ability to edit afterwards)

3. Up to 200 attendees

4. VOIP to keep costs down (voice over internet protocol i.e. speak over the internet)

5. Mac and PC compatible

Dim-Dim is an excellent way to get started with Webinars. It has a VOIP (voice over internet protocol) capability built in, allows the host to broadcast video eg from a webcam, plus desktop or application sharing, and there is a free version for use by up to 20 people. We found that the VOIP component let it down; lots of echo and delay. We’d need to look at this one with teleconferencing, and the current numbers are in the US (although you can speak to them about international dial-in numbers)

Webex is one of the biggest names in web conferencing and is used by many large companies. It works very well indeed using a dial-in landline number, but there is a high cost involved which must be set against the benefits you are hoping to get out of it.

Megameeting promises the same experience as Webex but with much lower prices. In practice we had a few technical hitches using VOIP and their recording software still isn’t available for Mac. We’re going to look at it again as soon as the Mac version is issued.

A very quick look at Nefsis and a nice Tweet from one of their marketing people confirmed that it isn’t suitable yet as no Mac support.

One more to look at – iLinc. The features sound good on the website, so watch this space…

And currently under investigation – GoToWebinar. This one is extremely popular but has only recently become available in a Mac-compatible version. I’ll report back on this when we’ve tried it out.

Another time, I’ll write about some of the uses for webinar systems.