Talk Up with TokBox

By Frank Ohlhorst  |  Print this article Print


Desktop-as-a-Service Designed for Any Cloud ? Nutanix Frame

Skype 4.0, ooVoo, Tokbox and Mebeam aim to make videoconferencing simple, but are any of them good enough for business use? Solution providers will find that limitations abound, creating up-sell opportunities.

TokBox differs in many ways from Skype and ooVoo. The service is a Web-based application that integrates with popular IM clients and requires no installation. Users simply create an account on the TokBox.com site and then use a Web 2.0 application to launch their IM session. Users can log in to AIM, Google Talk, Yahoo Messenger and MSN Messenger.

For video and audio communications, TokBox uses a custom Flash application, which can access the PC's Webcam and microphone. Users can launch one-on-one video chats or start videoconferences and invite multiple users.

One nifty feature of the product is the use of Adobe AIR, which works like a Web-based application for those without TokBox accounts. A TokBox user can invite non-users to videoconferences by sending a URL, which the invitee launches in their browser. That user then becomes part of the videoconference. As with the other videoconferencing products, users will need a Webcam, microphone and a PC that meets TokBox’s minimum specifications.

TokBox video quality is pretty good, although frame rates tend to drop off quickly when more attendees are added to a conference. Audio quality proved to be very poor—there was substantial echo and background noise. Those problems are solved by using a quality headset.

TokBox doesn’t offer many collaboration features, as users are not able to share desktops, run slide shows or use a common whiteboard. That said, there are plenty of third-party tools and services that can add those features using a mashup style of implementation. TokBox is definitely worth a look, but users should expect to use it like a multi-participant video chat service and not much more.

Frank Ohlhorst Frank J. Ohlhorst is the Executive Technology Editor for eWeek Channel Insider and brings with him over 20 years of experience in the Information Technology field.He began his career as a network administrator and applications program in the private sector for two years before joining a computer consulting firm as a programmer analyst. In 1988 Frank founded a computer consulting company, which specialized in network design, implementation, and support, along with custom accounting applications developed in a variety of programming languages.In 1991, Frank took a position with the United States Department of Energy as a Network Manager for multiple DOE Area Offices with locations at Brookhaven National Laboratory (BNL), Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPL), Argonne National Laboratory (ANL), FermiLAB and the Ames Area Office (AMESAO). Frank's duties included managing the site networks, associated staff and the inter-network links between the area offices. He also served at the Computer Security Officer (CSO) for multiple DOE sites. Frank joined CMP Technology's Channel group in 1999 as a Technical Editor assigned to the CRN Test Center, within a year, Frank became the Senior Technical Editor, and was responsible for designing product testing methodologies, assigning product reviews, roundups and bakeoffs to the CRN Test Center staff.In 2003, Frank was named Technology Editor of CRN. In that capacity, he ensured that CRN maintained a clearer focus on technology and increased the integration of the Test Center's review content into both CRN's print and web properties. He also contributed to Netseminar's, hosted sessions at CMP's Xchange Channel trade shows and helped to develop new methods of content delivery, Such as CRN-TV.In September of 2004, Frank became the Director of the CRN Test Center and was charged with increasing the Test Center's contributions to CMP's Channel Web online presence and CMP's latest monthly publication, Digital Connect, a magazine geared towards the home integrator. He also continued to contribute to CMP's Netseminar series, Xchange events, industry conferences and CRN-TV.In January of 2007, CMP Launched CRNtech, a monthly publication focused on technology for the channel, with a mailed audience of 70,000 qualified readers. Frank was instrumental in the development and design of CRNTech and was the editorial director of the publication as well as its primary contributor. He also maintained the edit calendar, and hosted quarterly CRNTech Live events.In June 2007, Frank was named Senior Technology Analyst and became responsible for the technical focus and edit calendars of all the Channel Group's publications, including CRN, CRNTech, and VARBusiness, along with the Channel Group's specialized publications Solutions Inc., Government VAR, TechBuilder and various custom publications. Frank joined Ziff Davis Enterprise in September of 2007 and focuses on creating editorial content geared towards the purveyors of Information Technology products and services. Frank writes comparative reviews, channel analysis pieces and participates in many of Ziff Davis Enterprise's tradeshows and webinars. He has received several awards for his writing and editing, including back to back best review of the year awards, and a president's award for CRN-TV. Frank speaks at many industry conferences, is a contributor to several IT Books, holds several records for online hits and has several industry certifications, including Novell's CNE, Microsoft's MCP.Frank can be reached at frank.ohlhorst@ziffdavisenterprise.com

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