When comparing hosted video conferencing services, look for the following features:
- High-quality video and audio
- Shared desktop and presentation capability
- Whiteboard and note pad features
- Voice conferencing and chat
High Definition Video and Audio for Video Conferencing
As desktop video conferencing systems have started to provide higher quality video and audio, hosted video conferencing has also steadily improved the quality of its video and audio capabilities. Streaming video is now a standard part of hosted video conferencing. Look for high definition video capabilities to be built into hosted video conferencing products.
Audio quality has also improved dramatically for video conferencing applications. Users can access their video conferences using standard or VoIP telephones. In either case, the quality of the voice transmission should be the same or better than any voice telephone call.
Shared Desktop and Presentations
One of the most useful benefits of hosted video conferencing is the ability to create dynamic presentations using the shared desktop capability. An important tool for demonstrating software features or offering training on complex systems, shared desktop is a must-have capability. Look for the ability to assign and change moderators in a conference, and the ability to take questions from conference participants.
Video conference presentations are useful for any situation where complex processes must be explained visually to meeting attendees. Sharing your desktop and demonstrating software processes in a simulated environment makes teaching and learning easier.
Virtual Whiteboard and Note Pad Tools
Having a whiteboard to develop ideas in a meeting is no longer limited to the in-person meeting. Look for this capability in any hosted video conference service. You should also be able to make notes and distribute them to users during a conference, or share a note pad with other conference members.
Voice Conferencing and Chat
Sometimes video conferencing will be used to support a voice conference, where the voice audio is enhanced by a video presentation. Look for powerful video conferencing tools in any hosted video conferencing service. You can also use chat as a way to communicate with conference members directly outside of the group presentation. This is useful for resolving technical issues with the conference or providing a separate communication channel for special questions or problems.
Hosted video conferencing can provide a wide range of features, while requiring minimal investment in hardware or software. Based on this relatively low commitment level, you may want to try out several hosted conferencing solutions, and then choose the one that best suits your needs.