Free and inexpensive Video Conferencing and collaboration Applications

Published Tuesday, August 4, 2009 3:41 PM

As people strive to stay connected the need for good video conferencing software is becoming more apparent. There are a couple decent solutions for free or inexpensive multi person and person to person video chat conferencing solutions. Before I start would like to say that Webex and gotomeeting are great solution for a virtual meeting type of environment. These sites are expensive and might not be worth it for the casual user.

Web Based Video Conferencing and collaboration

If you are looking for an application that allows you to video chat without software to download then web based applications might be the way to go. There are a couple free solutions that I have found none of which are that great, but hey they are free.

Google Video
Google has a video feature built into the gmail online application. This will allow you to video chat with other people on gmail through your browser. You can only chat with one person at a time but it seems to work pretty well.
Pro: free and works with gmail.
Cons: people have to install the video plugin and be gmail users. You can only chat with one person at a time.  

Palbee is free Beta application and allows you to create a meeting room with 8 people. It has a white board that allows you to draw and illustrate things. There is also a chat built in so people can communicate via text as well. You can also upload powerpoint files and other file types for people to view.  

Pros: Free and has great features.

Cons: The file upload has never worked for me. There seems to be a lot of bugs involoved with starting a room and uploading files.
This site is really interesting. There is no registration and all you have to do is start a room and send people the link and they can join the room. Mebeam can also handle up to 8 people at the same time, and all people need to join is flash and a webcam.  
Pro: It’s free and simple and no registration or software needed. Users only need Flash and webcam.
Cons: The audio doesn’t work that well I couldn’t get it to work most of the time. Another service might be needed to provide audio.  

Native Video Chat Application

Skype is a great way to video chat with people and it works really well. Because you have to be a Skype member you don’t have to worry about compatibility with software and networks.

iChat only runs on Macs but it also will work with AIM clients as well. I have not been that impressed with ichat. The video chat never seems to work that well through the AIM network.

Of course AIM has video support works well with windows to windows video chat. I have not experienced the Mac to Windows video chat working that well.

OoVoo is a video chat program that is multi platform much like Skype but it will allow you to video chat with up to 6 people for a monthly fee. I have not experienced this application before but seems pretty cool and people talk about it a lot so it must be at least usable.

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