Have you ever tried to initiate a video chat with someone and had to go through the frustrating steps of making sure the other person is using the same video chat client as you? I personally like to use iChat which is also compatible with AIM, but some of my friends overseas use Skype, while many of them also use MSN. Also, when I’m dealing with less technical folk, like my aunt, it has been a chore getting her to download and install AIM altogether, because she is practically computer illiterate. These are just a few examples of some of the barriers that make something that should be simple, in to something complicated and draining. So along comes Tokbox, a web based video chat service that connects people for video chatting, without the need to install any software. It doesn’t matter whether you’re using a Mac, a PC, or Linux, nor does it matter what web browser your using. All that is required is a web cam and a mic, and you can be up and running within a minute. In a lot of ways, Tokbox is like the Meebo of Video chat. Tokbox is also compatible with most of the popular IM services including AIM, Yahoo, and MSN. Actual video quality is good, although not quite great. It’s about on par with your average video chat service.
But aside from taking away all the software barriers, Tokbox also has a few tricks up its sleeves that set it apart even from its software based counterparts. For starters, it can support up to 20 video chat windows at once, so you can connect with many of your friends at once – conference style. Tokbox also lets you share YouTube videos and SlideShare presentations live – again, very conference style. That makes Tokbox very practical for both casual and business meetings where several people need to interact at once. The folks at Tokbox said that the service has been especially popular with book clubs, bridal planning when friends are located all over the country, and religious Bible study groups. We would imagine that this could be used for business purposes as a free alternative to GoToMeeting since it also supports text chat.
To use Tokbox for video chat, you need to sign up for the service, however Tokbox also allows you to send video messages to people which they can view without having to register for the service. You can also use Tokbox to post video messages to Twitter and Facebook. Overall, we recommend Tokbox for those looking for a hassle-free way to video chat with their friends and family.
Update 07/01/09: Meebo’s video chat is actually powered by Tokbox