Review: Tokbox.com – Web based video chat with up to 20 people at once for free
Tokbox is a easy and great way to start video chatting with your friends, send video messages through email or videoconferencing. Tokbox is a web based service that allows you to connect with up to 20 people using their free service. Tokbox also has a downloadable desktop application (for Windows and Mac) that will allow you to make and receive calls without being to logged into the site.
Creating an account is about as easy as it gets. Its a simple short form that ask for your basic information, name, email and password then presto! Nothing is more annoying than wasting 10 minutes filling out pointless personal information just to create an account for a service that you just want to test out.
Once you have got that out of the way, you are ready to start searching for contacts from your Instant Messenger, email contacts and you can even import your friends from Facebook.
One of my favorite features is the ability to just start a video chat and share the link with anybody, even if they don’t have an account with Tokbox they can still join you in the video chat. Once you are in the video chat you can play videos from Youtube, show presentations with Slideshare, view your photo gallery from Flickr or Picasa and even share or collaborate on a document using EtherPad all in the chat window. Like many other sites you can share the link to Facebook, Myspace and Twitter to allow people to join you.
What makes Tokbox so attractive is the ability to have more than you and one other person included in the call. Skype users have been begging for this feature and up until now this was not available. Although it is still in a beta version, Skype still only allows 5 people in a call simultaneously. Tokbox allows up to 20 people with their free service. Now, the quality is dependent on the hosts bandwidth. So the more people that you have in the call the more bandwidth it will require so a high-speed cable ISP is recommended when having several people on at once.
The desktop application is another great feature that will allow you to use this service with out the need to log on to the website. Tokbox has a small application that uses Adobe AIR that runs on both Mac and PC. When someone calls you using Tokbox a notice fades in giving you the option to accept or reject the call. If you do not want to be bothered you can always close the program or even set your availability status to away, busy or even create a custom status to inform people of your availability.
If you are on Facebook and you are using Firefox as your browser you can get the Tokbox add-on that will integrate with Facebooks IM. This will place an icon in your chat window on Facebook that will call the person you are chatting with, but only if they also have a Tokbox account.
There is one feature that it lacks when compared to Skype, it’s the ability to call out to traditional phone lines. This feature does not really affect me though but it may for some others. I don’t believe that Tokbox is a huge threat to Skype but it is a good alternative. The quality in Skype is much better but for some Tokbox would be a better solution especially if you are wanting to video chat with your friends that do not want to install any software to their computer. The ease of access is what makes Tokbox really stand out from the other options.