The beauty of Flash for video conferencing is that it’s nearly ubiquitous. Unless you happen to be working on student computer in a public school, Flash is probably already installed and running like a deer on your computer. In fact, if you can watch videos on YouTube, Reuters.com, or VEVO, then it means you’re running Flash. This no-download feature makes it easy to build meetings right into a website and takes a lot of complication out of video conferencing. (Of course, you still have to “allow” Flash access to your webcams.)
Flash Video Conferencing Performance
The not-so-beautiful thing about Flash video conferencing is its lackluster video quality. It doesn’t even come close to the HD telepresence experience that allows Cisco and Vidyo to charge its customers indecent amounts of money. Although video usually starts out decently enough, it quickly deteriorates the more people you add to a meeting. The truth is Flash technology is unable to produce high quality real-time video because it was designed for playing movies which has less stringent requirements.
Furthermore, as I’ve pointed out many times before, if you really care about security (which VSee does), point-to-point encryption is really the way to go. Flash-based video conferencing or browser-based video conferencing such as Tokbox (more on VSee vs. Tokbox here) Megameeting, and Adobe Connect all send information through a server which acts like an old-fashioned switchboard phone operator to connect you to the person you want to call. Unfortunately, just as phone conversations used to be accessible to switchboard operators, similarly, such server-relayed video conversations are also exposed to the public. For me, I would rather not have to trust somebody else’s discretion, no matter how ethical he or she is.
Using a server also becomes a scalability issue. Going back to the switchboard operator analogy, it means that every person’s call has to be routed through a single switchboard. It’s not a big deal if you have one or two calls, but imagine if you had 200 people all wanting to make calls at the same time. You’d have one overwhelmed operator and a lot of frustrated people waiting on the phone line. With point-to-point calling, you bypass the need for an operator and connect directly to the person you want to call. No worries about calls getting stuck at the switchboard center/server.
The Skinny On VSee
As for the good old VSee workhorse, although it requires downloading, the process is super easy and quick. Once downloaded, it’s hard to get any more convenient than VSee’s one-click group calling and one-click screen share. VSee’s quick download and peer-to-peer architecture are designed to give you the best of both user convenience and scalability.
VSee is also known for its excellent video quality, especially for multiple live feeds. Even from a single 4G wireless device, VSee is able to upload four HD telepresence feeds simultaneously!
Finally, VSee is secure. It uses FIPS 140-2 256 bit AES encryption, and as mentioned earlier, all information is sent directly from client-to-client, meaning it does not go to a discreet (or indiscreet) server and is never seen by anyone except those who are meant to see it.
Summary of convenience, video quality, security, scalability:
- VSee has no-install one-click; Flash is already on almost all computers, making it convenient to run
- VSee has HD telepresence; Flash video quickly deteriorates with additional video feeds and over wireless networks
- VSee is secure; Flash is not
- VSee has a very low impact on networks no matter how many users; Flash may requires network modifications depending on user load.
(updated Nov. 19, 2012)
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switchboard photo courtesty of rich701
I’m grateful Vsee did not take the easy way out by saddling us with an insecure product – with those address servers having access to session keys. It’s amazingly difficult to setup secure communications in 2011. Vsee is the *only* exception.
Am pretty fed up with this situation and would welcome a stripped down audio only version of Vsee which could be operated from a non rooted cellphone. Zfone is just too difficult to manage.