capsule review

MegaMeeting

At a Glance
  • MegaMeeting.com

    Macworld Rating

    MegaMeeting tackles basic audio-and-video conferencing. But its clunky interface, bugs, and inability to present documents can make presentations falter.

MegaMeeting gives you all kinds of tools to conduct business meetings online—screen-sharing, videoconferencing, VoIP and phone conferencing, simple whiteboards, and text chat. But its inability to present some file-types—including PDFs and PowerPoint presentations—or to share specific windows or apps makes it weaker than its competitors.

MegaMeeting is available in several pricing plans. I tested the Professional Light account, which costs $100 a month for up to five participants at a time, with the ability to add more users for $20 per month. The Personal account costs $49 a month for up to five people, but it lacks polls and screen-sharing, among other features.

MegaMeeting runs inside your Flash-enabled Web browser, so nearly everyone can use it to host a meeting. If you want to share your screen—a crucial component of the service—you need to install additional software. Awkwardly, when you download and open the .zip file for that software, you’ll find it contains two different installers; you’ll have to guess which one to use. It took me just a minute to complete the process, but it’s needlessly confusing.

As the host, you can invite participants via e-mail, or they can join by visiting the MegaMeeting site and entering your meeting name. You can require participants to enter a password or approve guests as they enter. Since the service is Flash-based and doesn’t require additional downloads for participants, it only takes a moment to join.

You can participate in a meeting in four ways: videoconferencing, VoIP (which is built-in, requiring no additional services or subscriptions) or standard phone, and text chat. Both of the phone tools work well. If you want to enable a toll-free dial-in number, you’ll have to pay for a third-party service, but MegaMeeting integrates them into its interface.

Videoconferencing supports up to 16 live streams in a single “room.” Video windows appear at small resolutions; you have to find an obscure setting to push them to the standard maximum of 320 by 240 pixels. (For an additional charge, you can push that to 640 by 480 pixels.) But the small feeds are good enough to let you recognize colleagues.

Screen-sharing and other issues

While you can share screens with MegaMeeting, it doesn’t always work right, and the interface has some issues. MegaMeeting phone support helped me identify a deeply hidden settings area to fix my problems, but first I had to divulge my username and password—a troubling request. After getting it working, the screen-sharing frame-rate was usually fairly good, but it occasionally lagged enough to cause noticeable delays and hamper presentations. But even when screen-sharing is working, you can only share your entire screen; Mac users can't share specific windows or apps.

MegaMeeting can play Flash video clips if you enter the direct URL. (It supports .flv, .f4v, .f4p, .f4a, .f4b, .mov, .mp4, .m4v, .m4a, and .3gp video files; it also works with YouTube videos.) MegaMeeting begins playback for everyone together; as host, you can pause and seek specific points in the video. The only way to share other kinds of files (including PDFs or PowerPoint presentations) is to open them on your system and then share your screen; you can't upload them to a central server, say, and present them to the entire group from there. You can directly transfer files from host to participant, but you can’t transfer to the entire group at once, making the process less useful.

A few advanced features help in some situations. Polls can record participants’ answers, and breakout rooms let you divide into smaller groups before rejoining the session. However, none of Megameeting's features stand out in this crowded field. There is no iOS app for it, either.

Frankly, MegaMeeting feels like a Windows 3.1 application. Configuration settings, error messages, and the overall interface are ugly and complicated. For example, you may need to adjust video settings in three different places—certain settings override others. You can resize and move windows around the screen, but they don’t snap together when in proximity, so the layout can look sloppy. Some settings windows mysteriously float behind others for no reason, and some lack the same close options as their neighbors. You can’t save multiple layouts, which would be a helpful way to stay organized.

Like nearly all of its competitors, MegaMeeting uses 128-bit AES protection to keep your data safe. You can use the same URL for different meetings, but enable a password to keep out unwanted guests.

Macworld’s buying advice

MegaMeeting handles the basics of audio-and-video conferencing. But its clunky interface, bugs, restricted screen-sharing, and lack of document presentation make it less useful for more complex presentations.

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At a Glance
  • Macworld Rating

    MegaMeeting tackles basic audio-and-video conferencing. But its clunky interface, bugs, and inability to present documents can make presentations falter.

    Pros

    • Supports videoconferencing with up to 16 people
    • Built-in telephone conferencing
    • Includes screen-sharing

    Cons

    • Can't share specific windows or apps
    • Can't present some file types
    • Can’t resize or zoom JPEGs
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