Palbee - Free video conferencing without an install Tuesday, April 29, 2008
PalBee is an online collaboration service that includes video conferencing for up 4 people. Whilst it doesn't presently offer desktop sharing, it does include the "mandatory" whiteboard, slideshow presentation and photo/graphics sharing.
More people can be added but at a cost, up to a total of 9. Similarly, meetings are free for up to an hour, thereafter you will need to buy points [both of these elements are free for now, albeit they make clear that this will be chargeable in the future, with extra points purchased via Paypal].
The meeting sessions come with a facility to make a recording of the session for free, although that feature presently comes with a health warning that it may not work.
You don't have to register for the service, and there is no installation.
The meeting host/moderator controls who can speak or control the whiteboard in sessions, normally in response to requests from attendees. Additionally the session have chat windows, albeit I failed to determine whether you can conduct a private chat with other individuals - obviously you can revert to other IM solutions if not.
I'm aware that many people find video conferencing uncomfortable and are much happier with the telephone conference call. Maybe that's because the latter gives them the opportunity to more easily tune out and do other things, or they don't like being in view during a discussion despite this being a factor of physical meetings. I confess to being a fan of them partly because body language is a key element in assessing the reaction of others. Until recent years they were the preserve of large corporates, but cheap webcams + plentiful broadband + free apps like Palbee makes them universally accessible. If only more corporates would open up to the idea......