(For those new to the column, Forward Migration is our term for companies moving from Wintel machines to Macs — or at least adding or increasing the number of Macs they use. A Forward Migration Kit is an overview of Mac OS products for a particular occupation, such as photography, optometry, etc.)
This week concludes our two-part videoconferencing software for the Mac.
ViaVideo is a videoconferencing product by PolyCom that’s Wintel only. However, the company is purportedly interested in hearing from Mac users to find out how much demand there is for the Mac product.
“My company does thousands of hours of videoconference per month using large room systems, like the Polycom ViewStations,” Arif Shaikh told MacCentral. “We are trying again to do desktop videoconferencing on our PCs. However, the art department that uses Macs are left out because our preferred equipment, Polycom ViaVideo is not compatible with Macs.”
He wants to see Mac users contact the company and request Mac support.
The company’s contact info can be found online.
There are currently two third-parties offering Webcam drivers that allow users to use their FireWire and USB Webcams under Mac OS X. IOXperts makes both drivers for USB (USB WebCam Driver 1.0b5) and FireWire (FireWire WebCam Driver 1.0.1b7) cameras. However, you’ll want to check with IOXperts to see which cameras are currently supported.
“These drivers, work very well; however, they cost $20 which is an additional expense,” according to Zachary Davis, Department of Aerospace Engineering, University of Texas at Arlington. “Also Matthias Krauss offers a Webcam driver for USB Webcams called
Macam, which is currently at version 0.6. Again, you should check to see which cameras are currently supported.”
Randy Crownover has been researching video conferencing software for the Board of Communications of the Oklahoma Conference of the United Methodist Church. As their communications office is 90 percent Mac, it’s important to them to have a vital Mac based video conferencing package available. But, so far, the options have been somewhat dismal, Crownover said.
“The advantages of Cuseeme for our use are it’s extensive cross-platform ability and availability,” he told MacCentral. “The availability of reflectors and reflector software (should we choose to develop and manage our own network) is important. Finally, while the option for eight windows at a time is more generous than many other commercial software options, our needs will easily require the ability to conference with larger numbers of people.”
However, video quality, while passable, is the least promising of all software tested so far, Crownover said. The absence of whiteboard in this version is a definite drawback, he added.
“While connections with the more ubiquitous Netmeeting are promised, we have not as yet been able to create a successful connection with this product from a Mac,” Crownover said. “Finally, the fact that the parent company has no plans to further upgrade this long time standard for the Mac leaves us hoping from relief from another direction.”
The second best software they’ve tried is ISpQ 5.0. The quality is exceptional, and the interface “is everything you could hope for,” Crownover said.
“I have not as yet checked for whiteboard availability,” he added. “Nor have I been able to connect on a duplexed video and voice connection. The most apparent drawbacks (for our purposes) are the limited number of windows you can open at one time (four) and the ready presence of adult channels (for obvious reasons).”
Crownover has also checked out iVisit, but found its quality and interface lacking compared with ISpQ.
“The most redeeming factor is the number or windows you can open at one time (but, how many can you have open and still maintain appropriate voice duplexing?),” he added. “Plus, I haven’t found a whiteboard feature.”
Michael Theochares, a multimedia specialist for grades K-12, Chelmsford Public Schools, in Chelmsford, MA, thinks the relative lack of videoconferencing products for the Mac is a problem.
“I believe the lack of videoconferencing apps on the Mac is because, until recently, we haven’t had the bandwidth, but it’s coming — slower that we want, but it’s coming,” he said. “NetMeeting is a ‘corporate’ app (where Apple is virtually non-existent) and where VC is done on Ethernet LANs that have the bandwidth. This explains why Windows has VC and Macs have lagged. This needs to change and soon!”
Theochares thinks the Apple platform needs a simple-to-use application with chat and whiteboarding (to collaborate) and which is cross platform.
Also, a company called
is developing a video conferencing application, which will be distributed through
Ideas From the Deep.