For the last few months, I’ve been playing with a multimedia online web broadcasting service called Livecage (www.livecage.com) . I call it a multimedia web broadcasting service because that’s what it really is; you can produce audio and video for live broadcast or via live conference. For a free service still in beta, it works pretty well. I hosted a virtual family reunion on the Livecage service in January and the service performed better than I expected. The video conference was clear and did not have too significant of a lag time. The audio was an issue, but most audio conferences over IP wireless connections suffer from some lag time and QoS isues. When we moved the participants to an audio conference bridge paired up to the video, the conference was a lot of fun. The kids on the call kept mugging for the camera and overall it was a memorable experience.
A couple of things to note about Livecage:
The service is still in beta, so like any beta offering, there are bound to be situational issues. I had trouble getting email confirmations to activate my account, as did a number of my family members. We tried a couple of different email addresses and we finally got the confirmations.
If you’re using a Mac, you’re going to have to adjust your Adobe flash player settings. I use a PC and my brother uses a Mac. If you right click on your mouse over the video display where your image should be, you should be able to access your Adobe settings and reconfigure without too much difficulty.
The video conferencing service allows for 10 simultaneous video screens and for a free service, that’s a big plus. When you mouse over them, you’ll see icons that will enable you to make a screen larger, thereby moving it to the main view screen. You can only have one image in the main view screen at a time, but if you click on the icon to make a second or third screen larger, the Livecage stacks them on top of each other in the main view area. This happened to me and admittedly I panicked. I tried to make three of the view screens larger and all three moved to the main view screen stacked on top of each other, leaving blank spaces where the smaller screens were. I could hear the participants, but couldn’t see them. It’s a fairly simple fix to undo stacking; you just hover your pointer over the right hand corner of the main view screen, click on the “X” and the image you are looking at shrinks, returning to it’s original location. Although this shouldn’t be a big issue, admittedly there has to be a better way to make this work without stacking the screens.
For all of the bugs, I like the service and continue to use it. You can set up private conferences or public events, so there are advantages for business users as well as the personal user, not to mention obvious social networking possibilities. Livecage has a good service and like anything else, if you play with the features enough, you get the hang of it and can work around any first generation issues you may encounter. Then there’s the price. Free is hard to argue with. Livecage is a winner and I look forward to continued use once the beta is completed.