There's a new web collaboration offering on the market as of last week. Called Vyew, it is designed more for interactive/collaborative meetings than for one-to-many public webinars. The distinguishing features are low cost, quick loadup, no client software to install, and easy interface.
First of all, big kudos for the name alone. They figured out a word that is short, indicative of the concept, and was available for a domain name. Brilliant!
The software does come up very quickly, as advertised. It is browser based, using Flash. The company admits that it hasn't broken the Macintosh/Linux barrier yet, so you'll have to use it on a Windows-based system. I also read comments on Guy Kawasaki's blog saying users had trouble with browsers other than Internet Explorer.
My single favorite thing about the software is the little Flash demo they show you upon request to introduce you to the concept. You can see a personal or business use clip with audio. It nicely shows through a real-world example why you would want to use software like this.
The program seems to be best at sharing photos from your collection. They have a cute little slideshow (excuse me, SlydeShow) application that lets you load in a bunch of photos and click through them. You can also share MP3's, although I haven't tried this out myself.
I uploaded a PowerPoint presentation with lots of graphics. Everything is converted to static image files and it took around four minutes to upload my 45-slide, 6.75Mb file (I said there were lots of graphics!). Of course the software doesn't support animations or slide transitions. The interface to move between slide images is a simple forward/backward clicker. There is no way to direct-jump to a specific image.
The drawing/annotation tools are easy to use. My biggest complaint is that the pointer faces from right to left. That makes it inappropriate for those ubiquitous bullet point slides. The arrow covers up the sentence you are highlighting. I do like the fact that you can drag the pointer from one spot to another.
There are some "toy-like" extras you can use, including checkers, a calendar display that lets people at least see what dates are when at the same time (no "calendaring/scheduling" functionality though), and the ability to display an interactive Yahoo! Map of an address. Unfortunately the map starts at the national level and you have to keep zooming in a bit at a time to try to get to a detailed street display. It's a bit too work-intensive. Zooming is also inconvenient on uploaded/displayed graphic images, as you can't quickly return to the original size.
Slides and other images are not rescaled for different screen resolutions, so viewers could potentially have trouble with tiny images or big ones they have to scroll to see.
You can change your room settings to let viewers have interactive presenter control or just viewing permissions.
A nice little extra is the ability to click a button and get a toll charge teleconference number that all participants can dial into. Nice if you don't have a teleconference service.
I can see this being useful for quick pick-up meetings. It's not going to compete with enterprise-level webinar or webcast software, but it's not supposed to.
Oh, by the way, I didn't review the desktop application sharing mode, as the company is still working out known bugs. It's listed as a "coming feature."
Definitely worth checking out if you want a quick and easy way to get a few people together online to let the computer facilitate a discussion. Citrix GoToMeeting should be very worried.