Citrix just announced that users can try the new webcam video option (HDFaces) in GoToMeeting as part of a public beta. Of course I had to jump on and give it a shot.
I don’t do formal reviews of applications still in beta, as that isn’t fair to anyone. So these are just some very fast initial impressions of my first try at their new video.
1) Video quality was very good. I tested on two computers on my desk, going through the same network hub. That is a torture test, as I’m passing full video bandwidth up and down the connection simultaneously. I saw no video breakup, pauses, or image degradation. The webcam window is infinitely resizable on both the host and attendee computer, and it did not have any problems even blown up to full screen size. Attendees can position the webcam image on any of the four borders of the shared screen image and can undock and resize it.
2) There was virtually no image lag between my host computer and the attendee computer. When I turned my head, the attendee machine reproduced it immediately.
3) At first, audio sound lagged the video image by a startling two seconds. After about three minutes or so, it fixed itself and the sound lagged the video by half a second or less. I don’t know if this is reproducible or if my attendee machine was in the middle of other hidden operations such as downloading one of the ubiquitous Microsoft updates.
4) When I first started my meeting from the host computer, GoToMeeting couldn’t “see” my webcam and said none were available. My external webcam was plugged in, but I hadn’t started the Logitech control panel. After starting up the webcam controller, GoToMeeting still couldn’t find the camera until I left and reentered the meeting. This is a common problem with applications trying to see USB-connected peripherals. I have run into it on several web conferencing products.
5) The beta version of the software is a different application than normal GoToMeeting. So even if you have had GoToMeeting conferences with attendees in the past, they will go through a new download/install cycle when they try to join one of your meetings with the new beta version. The beta software replaces the normal production GoToMeeting software on your computer, and you can’t go back and forth between versions. So if you are running mission-critical meetings, I would not suggest trying out the beta. Stick with the stable software version.
6) I liked the fact that when I used the GoToMeeting option to adjust settings for my webcam, it automatically fired up the Logitech webcam control panel application. That’s much better than trying to compete with the native control application inside the GoToMeeting software. Good decision.
All in all, I was more than satisfied with the beta performance. According to the press release, production availability is targeted for late July. As previously announced, there is no additional cost for webcam video. It will be a standard feature of GoToMeeting/GoToWebinar.