Raindance Meeting Edition
Editor's note: This review has been modified to clarify that more than 15 users may participate in a Raindance Meeting Edition conference. (10/19/05)
Raindance Meeting Edition is a smartly designed Web conferencing program designed for small-to-medium online gatherings of people. In a price-to-feature comparison, it falls halfway between low-end competitors Citrix GoToMeeting and and high-enders, such as Macromedia Breeze, , and . Raindance offers the usual application- and document-sharing tools included in most Web conferencing solutions along with text chat and audioconferencing via telephone. Raindance's user interface has some clever tricks, such as the Follow Talker video feature, which automatically displays the image of whoever is speaking. Conspicuously absent from Raindance are advanced tools, such as a VoIP audio option--a potential money saver for broadcast-style, single-speaker events--and multipoint video that shows three or more attendees simultaneously. That said, Raindance Meeting Edition is a nice conferencing app and a decent value for small businesses on a budget. You can learn how to use Raindance Meeting Editon in a matter of minutes. The software follows a standard Web conferencing setup routine: meeting presenters download and install a small applet, which places an optional Raindance icon on the desktop. To start a meeting, double-click the icon; Raindance loads, allowing you to invite participants by selecting the E-mail Invitation icon on the toolbar. Unlike , Raindance doesn't insert a toolbar in Microsoft Office applications (handy for starting impromptu meetings while you're editing a Word or Excel file). Total setup time in our tests: five minutes.
Participants join a meeting by clicking a link in your e-mail invitation. They have the option of downloading the Raindance software or--as with many other Web conferencing services--using a Web-based client. We were impressed with Raindance's well-designed interface, which provides access to all major features--application and browser sharing, video, and so on--in a convenient, left-side column.