IT GOES without saying that when a vendor releases a new product it’s promoted as the best thing since, well, the last version of the product.
Sometimes, though, the product actually lives up to the hype.
This is certainly the case with Macromedia’s Breeze 5.
The software company has taken its fundamental philosophy,”experience matters”, and applied it to web communications with impressive results.
It’s designed to be easy to use - and it is.
Joining a conference call several minutes late is never a good move, but it’s especially disturbing when you can actually see the people waiting for you onscreen.
I’ve never been a fan of conference calls; all the stuffing about with ridiculously long numbers and meeting people on the bridge seems far too complicated for a simple phone conversation.
Yet it works on Breeze. The ability to actually see the expression on someone’s face is invaluable and conviniently reduces the bullshit factor of a sales pitch.
The interface is easy to find your way around and users are able to change the setup to suit the purpose, whether it’s a meeting or collaboration on a document.
And when Macromedia promises real time, it delivers.
What’s really fun is the chat option that allows users to either address the group or chat privately with another member - the equivalent to passing notes at the back of the class.
You can even send signals to the speaker advising them to speed up or slow down, or let them know if you want to raise a question or agree or disagree with a point.
Breeze can be deployed across an enterprise without changing the existing infrastructure because Flash Player is already being used across Windows, Macintosh and Linux systems.
Add to that its ability to support large-scale events for up to 2,000 participants and you have a relatively cheap alternative to a conference.
Macromedia has partnered with Premiere Global Services to provide integrated telephone audio conferencing in Breeze.
The company says this allows further cost cutting by using VoIP.
What Breeze lacks - along with every other live video technology on the market - is the ability to pre-film yourself, play around in Adobe’s Photoshop until you look good and then put the new and improved image online.