The cyberspace world is flooded with software programs that have been modeled off that once-futuristic idea of video communication. The most notable service out there is Skype, which is free to call from Skype to Skype, and from which you can call any phone in the world for various prices. Developers are trying to find the best balance between usability and functional quality. There are dozens of options out there, and each one is narrowing its clientele. This review concerns conference video/audio systems that are meant for small businesses. There’s one out there that has the right idea, but can’t quite deliver. It’s called iMeet.

At $69 per month, iMeet offers a small business its online conference service. Each client is granted a custom URL to host their conference calls with as many as 15 people. Setting up the accounts is simple, because you only need to give three pieces of personal information. The only aspect of the setup that is tedious is electing a photo or avatar.

The best thing that iMeet has going for it is its looks. The interface is set up as a cube-themed meeting, where each individual participant is represented by a simple cube. Bios of each participant are rolled to the side of their respective cube. The visible icons during meetings are the camera button, the question mark, the clock and the information button. In addition, the time, day and weather in each of the participants’ locations are displayed at their cubes.
Each member can choose their own background theme to suit their tastes, which gives the experience a personal feeling. When the meeting is taking place, the cube of the current speaker radiates green. However, the function of the service is where they need serious improvement.

To begin with, the video breaks out often, or otherwise it just shakes and lags. The audio follows suit, and usually is delayed a few seconds. This makes conversing particularly slow and arduous, causing the participants to essentially waste their time. Those who attempt to use headsets, which are often necessary if one participant is in an open cubical, are completely cut off from the conversation.

Although the service hit the bull’s-eye in offering unlimited domestic dial-in and dial-out access, and although they made the correct developer’s choice of allowing unlimited guests to register for a given meeting, the price tag of this service does not reflect its true quality. What’s more, since their target clientele is business-oriented, they need to include the option of screen-sharing for when participants need to demonstrate some files from their computer.

All in all, the good intentions and superb interface of iMeet do not make up for its poor functionality.

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