Cheap Conferencing For The Web - 5 Tips For How To Find ItCheap Conferencing For The Web - 5 Tips For How To Find It

Everyone with an Internet connection and a computer today has an amazing opportunity to communicate with people all over the planet. Most Internet-mediated communication on a daily basis happens via e-mail, text messaging, and the visiting of websites. However, an increasing number of companies are using web conferencing to communicate with each other.

How does web conferencing differ from standard computer-mediated communication? With web conferencing, attendees of a conference or meeting literally have the ability to communicate in multiple ways (or "modalities"), including via voice, video, text chat, desktop sharing, application sharing, and streaming media. (Available features vary by solution choice, of course).

These days, many small companies, entrepreneurs and families find themselves on a tight operating budget and are unable to spend much on advanced communications tools such as web conferencing software. Fortunately, however, there are plenty of excellent systems available today at very low cost of entry. The challenge is to find an affordable solution that has the required features and capabilities to suit you.
If you are looking for cheap conferencing for the web, here are 5 tips for how to find it:

1. Look for a desktop-based system:
Web conferencing systems come in two main stripes: dedicated and desktop-based. Dedicated systems are those that require the purchase of specialized equipment. This equipment, such as special video cameras, monitors, and controller-type boxes (similar to a cable TV box), is not cheap. Dedicated systems can be some of the highest quality systems available, however.

On the other hand, if you are looking to save money, you may want to go with a desktop-based web meeting and conferencing system. These leverage mainly your existing hardware, such as your computer and monitor. Quality and ergonomics may not rival that of the dedicated systems, but that trade-off may be worth the lower cost.

2. Choose a reasonable feature set:
These systems have a range of possible features, including those listed above, as well as whiteboard sharing, polling, multipoint communication (multiple screens being shown at once), and voting systems. Start by writing out how you plan to use the system and which features you will need, won't need.

3. Buy your own USB cameras:
For a desktop system, you will need to purchase USB cameras. These plug right into your computer, leveraging the video card technology that is already built-in.

4. Find a web application-style solution:
Implementation of online conferencing systems varies quite a bit, too. Generally, the three options are: web application, locally hosted, and downloadable. In general, web application-style systems offer most companies the right combination of quality, low-maintenance, and cost. However, you should educate yourself about all three types of systems before making a choice.

5. Start off with a subscription for the lowest-possible number of users:
Most web application-style systems are available on a monthly or annual subscription basis. Meanwhile, the majority of the most expensive systems must be licensed annually for large amounts of money, or they are purchased outright. For web-based systems, you should always start out with their basic plan to save money. If you need to add more users or features later, you can always upgrade.

Follow these 5 tips to find the right system for cheap conferencing systems for the web.
by Larry Donaldson
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Compare secure web conferencing services at: Secure Web Conferencing Advisor.
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