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Cisco WebEx Meetings has taken over from the WebEx MeetMeNow web conferencing service. WebEx now provides a range of affordable web conferencing options, all of which provide video to offer a more personal approach to online meetings. Customers can choose from 4 key packages depending on their needs and budget, with the most basic of them being completely free. This Basic package allows users to hold meetings with up to 3 participants, and these meetings include standard quality video, as well as audio. If you decide to pay for an upgraded package then you won’t find yourself too out of pocket, with plans ranging from $19 to $89 per month, depending on what you need and for how long you need it. At the very top end you can host HD video and audio meetings for up to 100 people, with up to 9 host licences. You also receive a big boost to online storage capacities when you pay for a package, which is a great idea if you hope to record your meetings and store them online for others to access later.
Generally, we were impressed with WebEx, although there were a few extra features missing (particularly regarding audience participation) which you can find elsewhere. There’s also no polling or Q&A options, which means that it’s hard to get a good grasp of how successful your conference has been. We were also a little disappointed by the limit of 100 participants, which is much lower than you’ll find in our top rated products in this category. However, the ability to have 9 host licences means that you can share the cost among 9 different locations, each of which will be able to set up and host a conference. This is something you rarely see with other service providers.
The user interface for Cisco WebEx Meetings is generally easy to follow, although elements do look very similar at times so it can be a little confusing to remember your way around when you first start. That said, the system has a bit of a Facebook feel to it as it constantly reminds you how long ago messages were posted, when files were last examined, your upcoming meetings and so on. This is pretty handy as it makes sure you are in the loop with regards to activities with colleagues within your network.
Overall, we think CiscoWebEx is worth trying out. Have a go with the free basic package and see what you think. It’s an affordable system for small businesses and institutions but, unfortunately, doesn’t offer a similar service to larger organisations.
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