Featured Freeware: ooVoo

An iChat-like video conferencing and chat tool for Windows, ooVoo is loaded with useful, powerful tools that make it a viable alternative for small work groups using conference calls and screen-sharing applications.

ooVoo is an iChat-like video conferencing and chat tool for Windows, loaded with useful, powerful tools that make it a viable alternative for small work groups using conference calls and screen-sharing applications. A recording feature lets users tape video chats with other participants. Since the video and audio are being recorded to the hard drive, the only time limit is how much free space the computer's hard drive has. In testing, a nearly 15-minute, four-way video conversation only took up 95MB, which ooVoo can convert into a workable FLV file.

A conference calling tool gives host and participants a phone number to call. Other ooVoo users who call this conference line get plugged right into the audio that's a part of the video chat, and just like the video recordings, this audio gets archived, too. Call-in lines support up to six people, meaning users can have up to a dozen participants--including those on the video side. Note that this service isn't free. An optional companion for ooVoo's video player can be used for screen sharing or file sharing, and fun facial overlay tool that applies digital masks either to users faces or to backgrounds.

One of the best features is support for high-quality video streams, but two qualms users have had with the service are the compressed-sounding audio quality and datastream delays. More than annoying, one or more seconds of lag can force a heated debate to grinding halt. Still, ooVoo makes for a strong alternative to other VoIP and conferencing software.

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