Skype Still King, but New Programs May Offer More

Posted by on October 30, 2009 in VoIP [ 0 Comments ]

Video chat and a VoIP service has been showing up on space shuttles, airplanes, offices, public schools, and even Oprah. Recent improvements in standard internet speed (currently over three quarters of all American households have broadband, according to a study by the Consumer Electronics Association), now allow more and more options for internet telephony to enter the market.

Currently, the highest rated VoIP service option is Skype, which practically single-handedly created a VoIP market when it was first released in 2003. It quickly became the “Nike” of internet communications, with its name becoming almost synonymous with VoIP.

As of lately, however, many new options have started popping up. Many of these new choices offer improvements on Skype’s original model, while many others seem to be destined to be labeled clones. Here are a few of the more popular VoIP clients.

MegaMeeting is perhaps the most business-ready of all VoIP options at the moment. Unlike Skype’s focus on one-on-one connections, MegaMeeting supports video conferencing for up to 16 participants. What makes this option important is that on top of the 16 involved in the conversation, an unlimited amount of users can be allowed to “sit in” on the virtual conference. In addition, it also supports live application and screen sharing, as well as PowerPoint presentation capabilities.

MegaMeeting can be accessed directly through a browser for free, or purchased as a standalone program for less than $30 to ensure protected and encrypted privacy.

iChat is Apple’s answer to VoIP – it comes prepackaged with Macbooks and practically any other piece of their hardware. iChat offers many of MegaMeeting and Skype’s functions, all tied together neatly like Apple’s other products. Perhaps the main difference between iChat and any other VoIP programs is in its ease of use for the uninitiated technophiles.

Like Skype, iChat is essentially a free program – though Skype requires much more advanced hardware requirements like dual-core processors and special Logitech webcams to work. On the same note, though, iChat’s user-friendliness is directly related to being programmed into a machine that was made for it.

Aside from downloadable programs, there are also web browser based VoIP clients, like Zoho Meeting and Palbee, where no programs need to be downloaded. Zoho Meeting is more established, and allows for crisp video conferencing in 1-on-1 scenarios. Zoho does charge for additional users, however, while the newer Palbee allows for up to 5 participants.

Zoho Meeting can be used together with Skype to incorporate contacts and long distance connections, as well. Palbee has perhaps some of the most interesting options, as it has an online whiteboard for participants to share, as well as the ability to record video chats for playback or broadcast later on.

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