GCN LAB REVIEW
TurboMeeting has everything you need for remote gatherings, in a small box
RHUB TurboMeeting 200 would perform well in a classroom or office that occasionally needs to meet remotely
- By Greg Crowe
- Apr 04, 2011
Online collaboration has made a major change in the educational arena. Whether this is in the form of remote faculty meetings or even teaching a class over the Internet, the need for Web-based interaction has definitely increased.
And yes, there are many services out there that will let you have these meetings on their servers for a monthly fee. But there are limitations. For example, although these services no doubt take every precaution, it’s not nearly enough for some government agencies. A much more secure service would host a device physically within your network space.
Also with many services, there is the flaw of having to pay a monthly fee, essentially renting what you could own. To accomplish the latter, you need an appliance that connects to your network and allows your users to have meetings on it whenever they want without extra cost.
TurboMeeting 200 from RHUB (pronounced “R-hub”) Communications is such a device. It is about as small as a network switch (9 inches by 6 inches by 1.4 inches), and just as light (2 pounds, 6 ounces). A device this small should be able to find a home in even the most crowded of network rooms.
RHUB TurboMeeting (TM 200)
Pros: No monthly fees; easy to set up.
Cons: Limited number of concurrent meetings/attendees.
Ease of Use: A
Price: $995 ($866 government)
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We found the setup of the TM 200 to be quite simple. After we connected to the network via the 10/100 Ethernet port, it automatically grabbed an IP address from the DHCP server. Of course, for most configurations it would be best for it to have a static IP address. That was easily taken care of through the admin interface. This is available by browsing to it through the network, a cross-connect cable plugged into the Ethernet port, or a telnet connection through its serial port.
Once that was taken care of, the TurboMeeting was ready to go. We created a user account and clicked “Host a Meeting” from the home page. Then we browsed to the appliance from another computer, clicked “Join a Meeting” and entered the meeting ID number. And just like that, we were having a Web conference.
The host of a meeting has the ability to do many things to enhance the experience. We were able to show the desktop or even a specific monitor or program for the attendees to see. With the click of a mouse we could share files or record everything that is shown for those organizations that need that sort of accountability. As the host we could also pause the meeting in case we needed to do anything that we didn’t want the rest of the people attending the meeting to see, such as opening an application or searching for a file.
The TurboMeeting 200 has other potential applications besides meetings and webinars. An attendee has the ability to give control of his desktop to the host. This essentially turns a meeting into a remote tech support help session, or some really advanced training.
Voice over IP and video are also supported. When someone joins a meeting or plugs in a sound or video device, TurboMeeting will ask the attendee whether that device should be used for the meeting. By clicking yes, the attendee can then use the sound device and talk. The presenter determines which cameras are visible to all attendees, though only four can be displayed at any one time. In a lot of ways, the TurboMeeting might work well with another device we reviewed this month, the LifeSize Passport, and add recording capabilities to the excellent HD camera.
If a show of hands is not sufficient to determine a group decision, the presenter can create a poll with a question and up to five possible answers as radio buttons. Each attendee is able to click on his or her choice, and then everyone can see the tally.
The TM 200 can run up to two separate meetings simultaneously, with a total of 10 attendees between them. This is definitely the bare minimum for the device to be of use, but it would work fine in smaller classroom/meeting environments. It is expandable to four meetings and 20 attendees, but of course that is an added cost. Other models can support larger numbers.
Speaking of cost, we found the list price of $995 to be a fair one, especially when you consider that this compares to about six months’ worth of a typical meeting service. The government price of $866 is even better.
The TurboMeeting 200 appliance from RHUB communications would do well for the classroom or office that needs to meet remotely every so often. It is also a good way to buy the cow for an organization’s Web meeting needs, as opposed to paying every month for the milk.
The excellent price, ease of setup and the fact that it fills a specific need earns the TurboMeeting 200 a Reviewer’s Choice designation. This little device can find a home in any organization that hosts meetings and should pay for itself in less than a year.
RHUB Communications, www.rhubcom.com