Collaboration

Review: Timebridge meeting scheduler

Timebridge is a Web-based application that makes it easier to arrange and conduct meetings, conference calling, and Web meeting functionality.

Timebridge is a Web-based application that makes it easier to arrange and conduct meetings. It's primary feature is to make it easier for people to establish a mutally acceptable time for a meeting, but it also can provide conference calling and Web meeting functionality.

Note: This review was performed with the free version of Timebridge including a free 30-day trial of premium features.

Specifications

  • Mandatory requirements: Web browser, email account
  • Optional functionality for: Outlook, Google Calendar, iPhone, SMS messaging
  • Cost: Basic: Free; Plus: $8.95/month or $89/year
  • Additional information: Product Web site
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Who's it for?

People who schedule many meetings (C-level executives and their assistants, project managers, business analysts, etc.) will be interested in Timebridge's functionality. Some of its features like the conference calls and Web meetings will be appreciated by smaller companies who do not already have a solution in house (or for people looking for an alternative to their current providers).

What problems does it solve?

Business professionals who organize a lot of meetings know that it can be a real hassle to figure out when everyone can meet, especially if some of the attendees are not using the in-house calendar system. In addition to eliminating the back-and-forth scheduling emails, Timebridge has features to keep the meeting on track as well as conference call and Web meeting functionality.

Standout features

  • Mobile integration: Timebridge acknowledges that many business professionals spend most of their time away from a PC entirely, and has added SMS messaging (to remind you of meetings) and an iPhone app to help those users.
  • Simplicity: The entire experience just "makes sense" from top-to-bottom, with no software installation required (although there are plugins for various calendars); no client installation is needed for meeting attendees either.
  • Cost: Compared to the cost of a WebEx or a GoToMeeting account, the Timebridge Plus package is an excellent value.

What's wrong?

  • Limited usefulness: Timebridge is a one-trick pony that also offers a great value-add with the Plus accounts.
  • Weak Web conferencing: Compared to some of the other solutions out there, the Web conferencing is short on features.

Competitive products

Bottom line for business

Timebridge is a unique solution that solves a problem that I do not think bothers enough people to be a draw to the service in and of itself. That being said, the "find a common meeting time" functionality is very neat, works great, and was very easy to use for all parties. If your meetings are mostly in-house and you use Exchange, it is not something you will need since Exchange already shows people's availability.

Likewise, while the integration with Google, Outlook, and other calendars is useful, it depends on a substantial number of people hooking their calendars up to the service for the integration to really be useful. But again, the functionality itself works great, and if this is a problem that irks you (personal assistants or department assistants would probably love this product), Timebridge is well worth a look.

The conferencing functionality is a great addition, especially at the price, which blows WebEx and GoToMeeting away (Live Meeting is less expensive though). The Web conferencing is enabled by the open source Dimdim software; in my tests, I noticed that one of my test systems struggled to stay connected to a PowerPoint sharing on occasion, could not share its Web cam, and could not receive the screen sharing at all, but admittedly, the issue may have been on the end of that client's network.

The conferencing is a bit feature poor, but will meet the needs of most people. I did not find a way to take control of someone else's screen (which many technical support people like), unfortunately. One nice thing about the conferencing software is that the attendees do not need any plugins or application installations to attend other than Flash. A plugin is required for screen sharing. The voice conferencing was clear and easy to use, with about a half second of delay between speaking and hearing.

You can look at Timebridge as either a free and useful service, or as an inexpensive way to get a conference line and a Web conferencing solution. The basic functionality would need a lot more added to it to be worth paying for (and I am really not sure what could be added to it), but the value-add of the conferencing is a great argument to spring for a Plus account, especially for someone without the IT facilities to self-host, or who is looking for an inexpensive alternative to some of the other Web conferencing providers.

User rating

Have you encountered or used Timebridge? If so, what do you think? Rate your experience and compare the results to what other TechRepublic members think. Give your own personal review in the TechRepublic Community Forums or let us know if you think we left anything out in our review.

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About Justin James

Justin James is the Lead Architect for Conigent.

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