If you are looking for a low-cost alternative to GoToMeeting or WebEx, Vyew is a compelling online collaboration service worth considering.
When it comes to online tools for bringing the workplace together for projects online, GoToMeeting is considered by many to be the de-facto standard. You can share your desktop, presentations and documents with other parties live and have them contribute through those shared documents, as well as through the video and audio web conferencing. Suffice to say, GoToMeeting isn't exactly cheap and some of you might be looking for a capable alternative that works just as well.
- Title: Vyew
- Author: Simulat, Inc.
- Price: Free version (up to 10 active users), $9.95/month for Plus, $19.95/month for Pro
Simulat, Inc., a company known for its work in simulation-based training systems, has their answer to GoToMeeting in the form of Vyew. This online workplace collaboration system truly contains a plethora of features and abilities, giving it an edge over GoToMeeting, including in price. But more on that later as we take a look at what makes Vyew stand out as an online service.
I think the part that excites me the most about Vyew is that, unlike services such as GoToMeeting or WebEx, you do not need to install any client-side software beforehand, as everything works straight from the web browser. This means less fussing around with installing and configuring software and more actual work getting accomplished. Not to mention, you don't need to call up a system administrator to help open a securely locked down system.
As the name implies, Vyew is for sharing your desktop, documents, presentations, and other files with other participants in a private room that you can create. Depending on the edition, you are either limited to 10 users at once per room (in the free version) or up to 80 concurrent users with the paid versions. Also, with the free version, you do have a banner ad at the top of the screen to contend with. Regardless, free online collaboration is tough to beat, unless you are OK with spreading yourself out between multiple Google Apps.
Screen sharing is mostly an easy affair, but you will need to have Java installed if you are the one hosting your desktop. Participants that are on the receiving end will not be required to have a copy of Java, but everyone at minimum will need to have Flash Player installed and enabled. Otherwise, you get an error stating that you need to download Flash. This was somewhat disappointing as almost everything, aside from the banner ad, didn't have any Flash powered elements. My only explanation as to why is because Flash is used more or less behind the scenes.
Need some privacy and would prefer to run your Vyew service in-house? According to the Vyew website, a Vyew Enterprise Appliance, designed in a 1U server form-factor, is available for an unspecified sum. Although likely to be a pricey option, at least this allows your company full control about what data is shared between employees without worrying about throwing proprietary information up on a third-party server.
After playing around in the test environment that was offered by Vyew, I was basically up and ready to go within a minute. I was able to push a sample image file up into a room, manipulate said content and drag everything around how I wanted it. There is even an option to export the room contents out as a PDF document for archival purposes. If you need to discuss what is being presented with your employees or clients, Vyew provides a conference call number which you can use to "dial-in" to a conference in progress.
The only complaints I have for Vyew would be in how the interface could become rather sluggish at various times, such as when I selected options in the pull down menus, there could be a lag of up to a second or two and it isn't always particularly snappy. I also noticed the Flash Plugin crash at random during my attempt to export to PDF, but it was likely an isolated incident.
For what it is, Vyew is a worthy contender to the online collaboration space. It packs enough features to give the big boys a run for their money, and to be able to offer more for less is quite impressive in my book. Since Vyew is able to run entirely within the web browser, the service is cross-compatible with Windows, Mac OS X and Linux operating systems, so long as you are running the latest version of Internet Explorer, Firefox or Chrome.