The problem with buzzwords is that they can be clumsy: one person’s idea of the term “social media” may be very different than another person’s. That kind of misunderstanding might obscure the reality of a product hiding beneath its label.
Video collaboration company Cyberlink is running just that sort of risk. They’ve branded their new app U Meeting as social media for the business world. The term “social media” obscures the reality of what U Meeting is: a well-developed, deep, and cheap video conferencing platform for small professional teams. The Cyberlink video meeting app is a quality little tool that sits somewhere between the ease of a social video caller and the full depth of a big-name enterprise solution. It’s safe, efficient, and affordable, with a generous free version that may be enough for many small businesses.
It’s not, however, your new social media connection.
Getting Started with U
U Meeting is built on one of the hottest current trends in web calling: browser-based video communication. This open-source technology lets you make video calls and share all kinds of digital files and information through the built-in capabilities of your web browser, meaning there’s no need for downloads or plugins to slow things down. It is supported by the major browsers, including Google Chrome, and has been hailed as the most important new communications technology of the decade.
Set-up for U Meeting’s version of browser-based calling isn’t nearly as lightning fast as the current high-speed champ Appear.in, but it makes better use of the technology by packing in many more features while remaining just as nimble. That’s the appeal of browser-based video calling–you get all the features needed for a video conference without making many demands on your hardware.
It also makes it easy to recruit others, as all they need is an invite from a Cyberlink U Meeting member and a compatible browser to open the app. In fact, you should be able to get a group call together in just minutes. U Meeting aids that process by allowing you to find and invite video friends via email, text, WhatsApp, Google, and direct URL link.
Once they’ve accepted, it’s time to video chat.
Cyberlink Video Meeting Features
There’s plenty of room for all your business contacts within the app. The free version will allow groups of up to 25 to chat for 50 minutes, while the subscription services scale up to 100 people and allow up to 24 hours of face-to-face time per meeting–with the highest fee coming out to a competitive $19.99 a month.
As we said earlier, U Meeting goes beyond the basics offered by other browser-based apps, such as the aforementioned Appear.in or the somewhat gimmicky Talky. It offers business essentials like presenter mode, end-to-end encryption, video recording (a recent security update enabled users to prevent recording), and the ability not only to screen share but to share specific applications so you don’t have to place your entire desktop on display.
There are other nice little touches, including constant feedback on your audio and visual settings, and the ability to break out of your video calling platform and roam the internet while a minimized chat window keeps you in touch with your meeting.
Not everything about Cyberlink’s U Meeting is perfect, however. The ability to run the app on Windows, Mac, iOS, and Android platforms is great, but we encountered big changes in call quality when moving from desktop to mobile. Also, the overall presentation lacks character and the bland, tiled chat windows will be disappointingly familiar to anyone who’s used Skype or Zoom and the like. And finally, the comparison to social media is a little over-blown. Yes, there’s a messenger app included, and yes, once you’ve got your contacts on board, it’s really easy to get them into a meeting–but this isn’t WhatsApp or Facebook in terms of social network building, rapid-fire exchanges, or connections to the wider internet.
Those quibbles aside, however, U Meeting is an impressive app and the subscription price tag and high-quality free version should make it a winner with small teams.
Other U Meeting Options
Further increasing U Meeting’s appeal to smaller businesses is its additional webinar and presentation options. With an extra download, you can add webinar capacity to the Cyberlink video meeting set-up. It’ll cost you around $50 a month to broadcast to crowds of up to 100 people, but the free version will put you in touch with 25, and you’ll get the same 2GB of cloud storage. This webinar option gives you the ability to create and broadcast digital versions of the time-adored seminar. The focus is on single-orator, multimedia presentations to a waiting audience, and U Meeting includes some solid tools to help create and display your slides.
In a surprising twist, U Meeting also provides its paid members with a digital makeup kit called PerfectCam. VC Daily has written on similar apps before. They work like the masks you’ll find on Snapchat or WhatsApp, applying a virtual sheen to your face…so long as you don’t suddenly sneeze and destroy the illusion.
That trivial tangent aside, Cyberlink’s U Meeting is as solid an offering as you’ll find in the retail section of the video calling market. The loaded free version lets you get a taste of the full experience before you commit any funds and could potentially provide all you need if you’re running an intimate team.
It’s not a social media takeover of the business world, but it’s still well worth your consideration.