TokBox - A Nice, Simple VideoChat Alternative (also for Linux!)

I have FINALLY had the time to take at least a quick look at TokBox, which was recommended to me in a comment on a previous blog post. First, I'm sorry that it has taken this long.

I have FINALLY had the time to take at least a quick look at TokBox, which was recommended to me in a comment on a previous blog post. First, I'm sorry that it has taken this long. Second, I'm really glad that I finally got to it.

TokBox looks very nice. It is a simple browser/flash-based video chat application, which appears to work quite well. The fact that it is flash-based accounts for most of its strengths and weaknesses. On the positive side, it doesn't require any additional application software download or installation; it can be used from any computer that has a reasonably up-to-date web browser; you can just email someone a web link to your TokBox contact info, and then can click that to connect to you. But here's the real kicker - I just tested it on the laptop running Ubuntu Linux, and it works just great! Maybe this will put a little fire under the feet of the current Video IM companies who are dragging their feet on making a Linux version. On the negative side, it is going to be limited to cameras that work with the flash browser plug-in, which includes most typical "webcams", but will not include most DV cameras and others connected by FireWire, video capture and the like. As far as I can tell, compared to the typical Video IM programs that I generally look at, what TokBox doesn't have is audio-only, text chat, file transfer and such. I don't consider that to be a problem, as it is obviously not the market they are going after (at least yet), but potential users should be aware of that before they start. One thing they do have is a rather nice Video Mail function.

They have recently announced a deal to be included on Facebook, which is certainly going to be a boon for them. It's this kind of quick, easy, spontaneous video chat that is going to catch on very quickly in the social networking sites, not the bloated, difficult, resource-hogging rubbish like the Skype 4.0. beta.

jw 8/7/2008

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