ReadyTalk: A Quick Peek

Rating:  3 WaterTowers (a web conferencing application)

I had heard about ReadyTalk from some friends.  Not one to pass up an opportunity to test an application that I had never heard of, I went to the ReadyTalk web site to download and try the demo.

Unfortunately, to participate in the “trial” (you know I like to try stuff rather than be shown how to use it) I found out I had to enter my credit card number (I do not like this) and that at the end of trial period I had to cancel it so I would not be charged $49 per month.  With my memory…this is dangerous.

After a few moments of pondering what to do, I bit the bullet and signed up for the demo.

An hour or so after I signed up, I got a phone call from Brian Schlosser at ReadyTalk.  I told him pretty much what I wanted to do (i.e. test this for this blog) and he sent the login information and his personal email in case I needed help.

Very cool….excellent service!

What is ReadyTalk?

Simply, it is a web conferencing application with audio bridge capabilities.  They offer the full range of conferencing services from on-demand to full service premium offerings (including Event Services, Recording and Podcasting all with full support).

They are not alone in the web conferencing field, but, since they have landed major clients (University of California being one..remember I retired from Berkeley Lab / ESnet), I was more than curious.

Test Process and Rating

I did this test very quickly in the TracyVirtualOffice with the help of Jay and Phil.  I scheduled a short meeting using the ReadyTalk online scheduler, then the next week set up an ad-hoc or on-demand web and audio conference.

The rating came from this very quick test of only the on-demand web collaboration and audio conference.  I encourage you to investigate ReadyTalk more closely if you want Premium Services and Event Management.

ReadyTalk Features

ReadyTalk works on Mac, PC, and Linux.  The browsers supported include: IE, Safari, and Firefox (and I would like to add one more…Chrome worked fine!).

The web site lists four major areas of expertise:

  1. Web Meetings
  2. Audio Conferencing
  3. Event Services
  4. Recordings and Podcasts

I did not look at Event Services or Recordings and Podcasts, but, did spend a few minutes with scheduling a web meeting, running an “ad-hoc” web meeting, and calling into the audio bridge.

Scheduling a Meeting

The first step was to  schedule a 15 minute meeting inviting several people.

NOTE:  I had spent several years at ESnet working with vendors to replace the home-grown video and audio conferencing scheduling system, so I have some experience in this area.  Email, and reminders, is a hot button for me.

That said:  I really liked the email notifications (which can be modified to suit your particular needs), and I also really liked the ability to select the date and time (as well as modify) the reminder emails.   A+ to ReadyTalk!  🙂

Here is a screenshot of the received invitation (this is the default) for the scheduled meeting (NOTE:  I did not select the audio conference option for this test).

ReadyTalk Invitation Email

ReadyTalk Invitation Email

One issue I did have was that it was a bit harder entering the email addresses of the participants.  Hmmm, let me clarify….entering the emails was easy, making a mistake was costly.

EXAMPLE:  I entered three participant emails.  On one, I entered something that looked like this:  Mike Pihlman <mike@telbitconsulting.com>.   My email client presents this to me as a valid email address, but, ReadyTalk kicked it back.  The problem was I had to re-enter all of the email addresses again.  Not that that was much of an issue, but, if I had entered 10 or 15 then had to start all over again….not good.  It should have kept the valid emails and only required me to enter the invalid.

On the bright side (I know my friend Sheila will like this) you can upload email addresses via a CSV file, so if you have a lot of participants for a meeting, put them in the CSV file for ease of entry.  🙂

There is a button for registering, which worked fine (after registering I got an email with the link to the meeting and a way to test my computer / browser), and the meeting reminder email came on time.  There are follow-up emails that you can modify to find out how the meeting went.  Nice.

Lacking?

I did not see the ability to schedule a meeting every other week?  But it may be there…. if you need that feature, please ask ReadyTalk.  Remember I just did some very quick tests.

Scheduling Overall

TelBitConsulting says:  ReadyTalk meeting scheduling is very good.

Ad-Hoc or On-Demand Meeting

The next step was to participate in a web and audio conference on an “ad-hoc” basis.  As you may know, I am an advocate of ad-hoc meetings.  You need to meet?  Meet!  Simple, straightforward, easy.

ReadyTalk allows on-demand.  I went into the Conference Center and fired up a meeting to start in a few minutes.  You may want to practice getting to the right pages.  I had a bit of a hard time navigating to the correct pages, but, I’m sure with practice it will become natural.

After entering the email address of the participants (no mistakes!), the meeting started and both myself (as the Organizer) and the participants were in the “Lobby”.  Again a warning:  Getting to the right pages (see figure below) to actually start the meeting was not easy or intuitive…I had to work at it.

Slides for the ReadyTalk Meeting

Slides for the ReadyTalk Meeting

I also had to go back to the participants original email to get the audio bridge number (I would have hoped that it would have been on the “Lobby” screen, but, Brian has since informed me that there are technical and user interface reasons for it not being there….I understand).

Once I figured out the right pages and buttons, the meeting started.  I could click on the slide I wanted to show and it instantly (!) showed up on the participants computer.

Click on the Thumbnail of the Slide you Want to Show

Click on the Thumbnail of the Slide you Want to Show

ReadyTalk does application sharing and desktop sharing.  Very cool!

Phil and I collaboratively worked on a Word document (it could have been any application…I think).  We each could type on the doc, and brainstorm in real-time.  One interesting technical item (at least to me):  When I give control of my desktop to the far end, they have to use my mouse clicks as I have it set up.

The next few pictures show some screen shots from the participants computer.

ReadyTalk Slides and Chat Box

Phil watching the Slides and Chatting

Phil Watching My PPT Presentation

Skype Connection

Being a true blue die-hard videoconferencing type guy, I had to connect via video.  Using Skype in conjunction with ReadyTalk was a snap.  The hardest part would be to organize the windows so you can see the video and presentation windows at the same time.

Phil on Skype Videoconferencing

Summary

ReadyTalk is one of many many web conferencing applications.  The fact that the University of California chose it spurred me to test it for this blog.  Go here to see ReadyTalk pricing, and here for a complete list of features.

Is ReadyTalk far and away better than the other web conferencing applications?  Is it unique?  Does it push the state-of-the art in web conferencing?   Not from what I have seen, but, then, I only spent a few minutes with it.   If you are looking, spend more time and get to know ReadyTalk if you can.

Does it integrate videoconferencing?  No, but I think it would benefit if it did.

Does it work well (albeit a bit confusing at first try)?  Is the web conferencing quality good?   Is it responsive?  Can you schedule meetings with relative ease?  Does it offer Premium Services?  Is there live support if you need it?  YES to all.

TelBitConsulting says:  If you are looking for a web conferencing solution, ReadyTalk might be for you!

Oh yeah…Brian cancelled my subscription.  🙂

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About Mike Pihlman

I am the Director of ForCarol.com a 501c3 non-profit that awards college scholarships to Tracy, CA scholars in honor of my daughter's best friend, and our part-time daughter, Carol Phan who we lost on Sept 18, 2010. I am a: Book Review (TracyReaderDad.com), Technology (TechyMike.com), and Movie Review (ForCarol.com) blogger.

Posted on October 15, 2009, in Collaboration, Product Reviews. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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