Live Screen Sharing and Conferencing

Join.Me

by LogMeIn
(877) 251.8373  

Friction Factor = LOW FRICTION
Value = RECOMMENDED

Live Collaboration with screen sharing and/or conference calls

As a telecommuter with a development team and business associates at many different locations, we benefit greatly from access to tools that allow us to conveniently teleconference globally for voice calls and screen sharing sessions. Any time a live presentation is needed to demo our products, train people, or to collaborate on business or development efforts, tools like Join.Me provide a very simple solution.

Being able to collaborate regardless of each participant's location has the obvious advantage of saving travel costs, but in many cases it can be better than an in-person presentation because each user has their own personal view and can attend in their pajamas.

1 Join.Me logo

I have used WebEx, GoToMeeting and Join.Me. GoToMeeting was my preferred choice until I discovered Join.Me.

Three things sold me on switching to Join.Me:

  1. There is no need for regular participants to install anything on their own computer. Far too many times I have been embarrassed when a participant has difficulty installing the client-side component required by other services. Not only does this waste the limited time that the participants have made available for a session, but it causes frustration and negative feelings even though it is not the presenter's fault.
  2. Join.Me has a very easy, intuitive, and attractive user interface which results in a better user experience. The folks at LogMeIn, Join.Me's parent, have amazing user experience designers. Join.Me is simply a no-brainer to use.
  3. Lower cost. 'nuff said.

Video Conferencing If you require video conferencing, Join.Me does not yet support it. For that I recommend GoToMeeting. We also use Skype voice conferencing, especially for international calls, because it is as convenient as placing a conventional call and voice quality is very good (and it is free). Occasionally we have taken advantage of Skype's screensharing option but have not yet tried its video conferencing (except for one to one family video connections which work well). I've also used Google Hangouts for family video conferencing and we like it, at least for that purpose.

Webinars Join.Me's regular pro version is even good for webinars up to 250 participants. You'd have to spend $400/mo instead of $13/mo to do this with GoToMeeting's webinar service or $379/mo for WebEx's event offering (and that is billed as special pricing, so the cost may go up).

Cost

For Join.Me go to https://join.me and visit the pricing and features pages accessible from the home page.

GoToMeeting and WebEx pricing are found here: http://www.gotomeeting.com/online/meeting/pricing
http://www.webex.com/plans/meetings-plans.html

At $149 per year (less than $13/month) or payable monthly at $19/month, Join.Me is priced lower than GoToMeeting or WebEx (both $468/year or $49/month, and that is for only 25 participants...however both of these services include HD video conferencing as an option).

Join.Me Features (partial list)

  • up to 250 meeting participants
  • screen sharing
  • voice access via your computer (microphone plus speakers or headset) or dial up phone number
  • share control
  • multi-monitor
  • chat
  • send files
  • session recording
  • annotation
  • presenter swap
  • pro desktop app (needed to be a presenter)
  • personalized organizer link address and background
  • meeting scheduler
  • meeting lock
  • user management & reporting
  • window sharing
  • viewer: apps for iPad/iPhone or Android
  • presenter: app for iPad

The organizer can mute all or selected participants. Participants can mute their own connection.

For more details see this help page on the Join.Me site. As you can see from here, Join.Me has an excellent online help system.

Shortcomings:

  • None of the services in this genre track the status of voice-only participants.
  • The nature of Internet connections (not the fault of the collaboration service): if a user has a slow connection, then screen updates will come slowly and that user can easily get behind in the visual presentation (though voice will still be real-time).
  • No video conferencing. This is not an issue for our requirements. I will update this article when I learn when this will be available in Join.Me.

Let's take a look at Join.Me's key functions

Join.Me opening presenter screen

Join.Me opening presenter screen

As the organizer, when you start a Join.Me session you can choose to either use a personalized link with a URL that can be remembered for regular use, or you can open a session with a one-time use code. Other participants will either go to your personalized URL to join the session or they will enter the one time code.  

Join.Me opening presenter screen, session started

Join.Me opening presenter screen, session started

Upon starting the session as the organizer, a small control panel displays on your screen. This can be minimized to get it out of the way. The big button in the center allows you to pause sharing your screen, choose what on your screen is shared, or turn sharing back on. In this example note the use of a personalized address.  

Join.Me unlock a meeting

Join.Me unlock a meeting

A meeting can be locked or unlocked. If locked, participants must either be admitted or, if a one time code is used, they must enter that code. In both cases the organizer is informed when someone connects and can see a list of all connected users. This is true for screensharing but not when you use just voice conferencing.  

Join.Me using private sesson code

Join.Me using private sesson code

Here is an example a session that was started using a one time code.  

Join.Me invite another participant

Join.Me invite another participant

The organizer can view a list of screen sharing participants.  

Join.Me request to join a locked meeting

Join.Me request to join a locked meeting

When a person arrives to a locked session she or he is prompted to enter their name and click a button to "knock" to request admittance. Notice the personalized background set up by the organizer.  

Join.Me accept a new participant

Join.Me accept a new participant

The organizer sees the "knock" and can admit the new user.  

Join.Me select window to share or full screen

Join.Me select window to share or full screen

The presenter can decide whether to share his entire screen or just a selected window.  

Join.Me pause sharing screen

Join.Me pause sharing screen

The presenter can pause sharing her screen and users then see the personalized background.  

Join.Me participant - adjust local screen view

Join.Me participant - adjust local screen view

Participants (who see green buttons on their control panel vs. the presenter's orange buttons) also enjoy helpful options. Here the participant can adjust the zoom factor of their view of the shared screen.  

Join.Me audio connection choices

Join.Me audio connection choices

Each participant (including the presenter) can connect via their computer (Internet connection) using their computer's speaker (or headphones) and microphone. Or they can call the number provided and enter the access code listed.  

Join.Me chat

Join.Me chat

Users can chat with everyone or with a selected participant.  

Join.Me install presenter tool

Join.Me install presenter tool

Participants do not have to install anything on their computer unless they are to be a presenter. Here the light weight presenter software can be installed.  

Join.Me request control

Join.Me request control

A participant (who has presenter software installed) can request control of the keyboard and mouse, giving the presenter the option to turn the session over to another user. However, the organizer can always take back control.  

Join.Me swap presenter

Join.Me swap presenter

Here the current presenter turns over control to another participant.  

Join.Me share control

Join.Me share control

Or control of the session can be shared.  

Join.Me send a file

Join.Me send a file

Files can be uploaded to the participants.  

Join.Me remove a participant

Join.Me remove a participant

The organizer can remove a participant from the meeting  

Join.Me schedule a meeting

Join.Me schedule a meeting

The account owner can schedule meetings.