Cisco’s WebEx is the oldest online meeting and web conferencing tool on the market, but it has however not faded out into obsolescence. It is still one of the leading candidates for professional online meetings. Among its strong points are its experience and name, the huge number of participants it can accommodate in webinars and meetings, the variety of types of meetings it can support ranging from business meetings to marketing to online training, its security features and its availability for mobile platforms. It also has a relatively enhanced VoIP plan associated with its product that make audio conferencing something powerful and cheap.
On the down side, WebEx has an interface that has a steep learning curve. Comparing it to other tools on the market of the type, like Fuze Meeting or Vyew, to name just these, the interface appears a bit of the last decade with tiny elements that require efforts both with the eyes and mind to navigate through. Those make it powerful though. It also lacks some tools that facilitate the monitoring of large groups of participants. Also, the price is a bit high considering the number of participants allowed for the premium plans, as we see below.
WebEx actually has three main products in its tool: Meetings, Training Center and Event Center.
The Meetings tool is basically for web conferencing and interactive meeting. It can accommodate up to 500 participants. It is the only product that has high-definition (HD) video.
The Training Center tool is for the delivery of online and elearning. It allows up to 1000 participants per session and has additional features like threaded questions and answers, live breakout sessions and hands-on labs, chat, polling and quizzes, learning management system (LMS) integration and the recording of live sessions towards the building of an online library.
The Event Center is for the organization of large-scale events and webinars with huge audience, up to 3000 participants. It has additional tools like lead tracking for marketing, broadcasting audio, on-demand recording and playback of events etc.
WebEx also offers the possibility of having customized plans for different prices.
All the products mentioned above have the same features, except for the Meetings tool which is the only one with HD video. They all have desktop sharing, with the possibility of sharing applications, documents and web browser content; whiteboard; recording and sharing of meetings; sharing of multimedia tools; chatting; file transfer; integrate telephony through VoIP and high-quality video.
The Meetings tool has some more features that others do not have. It offers a full collaboration feature that allows online meeting while sharing documents of different types and formats. It also allows the documentation of online content and version control.
WeBex Meetings can also take place on mobile devices, including iOS devices and Android devices.
We will focus on the price for the Meeting plans here, since we are interested in WebEx Meetings. There are four plans, the fourth of which is the tailor-made plan with up to 500 participants. That will obviously cost a lot, and the pricing is obtained after contact and specification of your needs.
There is a free plan that allows only 3 persons per meeting with one host license. There is no high quality video. It has all the features described above plus VoIP and a storage of 250 MB for online storage. This is hardly any useful for a corporate environment, hence the premium plans.
The Premium 8 plan is at $24 per month and can allow only 8 participants. Even with high definition video and VoIP with toll free number and call-me possibility to make a difference, this too is, when compared to other tools of the like on the market, not really worth the money. For that number of participants, you can consider one of the free web conferencing tools.
The Premium 25 plan has the same specifications as the Premium 8, with the difference of a maximum of 25 participants and up to 9 host licenses. For $49 a month, and for that small amount of participants it is quite expensive, especially when compare to feature rich and robust solutions like Adobe Connect. The premium plans have 1GB online storage.
Using WebEx Meetings
It is easy to start meetings as a host. You have to download and install the app. It is easier still to join a meeting. You simply use your browser and do not have to install anything on it. This is great for marketing since clients will not want to install something to get into a webinar or a business meeting with a stranger.
The tool works with nearly all desktop operating systems, including all new version of Windows, Mac OS, some Linux distributions and Solaris. Mobile platforms are also supported.