More Options in Web Conferencing

By Heather Baldwin

There’s a saying among those who live in Michigan that if you don’t like the weather, just wait a few hours and it will change. Roughly the same thing can be said for Web conferencing. If you don’t like your vendor options, just wait awhile and you’ll likely have more from which to choose. Sure enough, the beginning of 2003 saw the entry of two new providers in the Web conferencing space. If you aren’t happy with the market’s current offerings you might want to check out Cata Web Conferencing from Carmichael Holdings, LLC and Quest Presenter from Knowledge Anywhere.

Carmichael is billing its new product as a simple solution in a convoluted Web conferencing world. Where other vendors are adding new features, Cata is removing them, following the philosophy that customers want simple, straightforward service. “It seems the majority of Web conferencing products want to add unique features so they can stand out, assuming something new will spark interest and increase sales,” says Darren Basch, Cata Web Conferencing’s marketing manager. “With Cata, we found people who had used Web conferencing products previously became very frustrated with the complications of the products’ features.”

The solution: Cata simplified, leaving only the most frequently used applications – whiteboard, URL pushing, application sharing and PowerPoint presentation/slide pushing, says Basch. A virtual room accommodating up to 50 people in a meeting costs $89.95 per month; a room for up to 100 attendees will set you back $129.95 a month. There’s also a one-time set-up fee of $19.95. Cata operates on PCs running Microsoft Windows 98 or higher and Internet Explorer 5.0 or higher.

Another option is to visit Knowledge Anywhere’s new Quest Presenter, which like Cata is being billed as simple and affordable. The service includes all the basics, including the ability to schedule presentations ahead of time or hold live Web conferences on demand; the ability to store unlimited presentations to your account; and the ability to view presentations from a standard Web browser so there’s no need to install or download special software. There’s also extras such as the use of streaming Flash technology, which reduces the lapse time between slides to one or two seconds between slides regardless of connection speed. Flash technology also enables access from any Pocket PC with Flash capability. In addition, the presenter can see all slides in the presentation from the presenter console, while the Slide Indicator icon confirms the audience is viewing the same slide as the presenter. The new service starts at $79 per month.

For more information, visit www.knowledgeanywhere.com/webconference.cfm for more information on Quest Presenter, and www.catatech.com for details on Cata Web Conferencing.