July 21st, 2009

Ontier Pixetell now available: Web conference attendees everywhere breathe a sigh of relief


Ontier Pixetell now available: Web conference attendees everywhere breathe a sigh of relief

There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t bemoan the state of email. Now granted, it’s usually me complaining that—even after 20 years of using the medium—I’m still unable to effectively manage the day-to-day onslaught.

But as you and I both know, that’s not the only thing that’s frustrating with email. What about communicating via email? Isn’t that frustrating too? For many, that’s a staggering understatement.

But now, relief may be in sight. Because that whole “communication via email” thing is one problem that Portland-based Ontier hopes to fix with Pixetell.

Pixetell easily combines screen recordings, voice, webcam, and attachments into a secure, interactive message that can be sent as a simple link through standard email, shared via social networks, or used to instantly enhance content management systems such as wikis, blogs, and document repositories with visually rich information.

Even though Ontier has been fairly quiet since its DEMOgod-worthy launch at DEMO 09, they’ve been hard at work. Running Pixetell in private beta. Gathering feedback. Making tweaks. And apparently satisfying customers.

“Our customers say Pixetell has raised the efficiency and impact of their everyday communications to a whole new level,” said Sebastian Rapport, CEO of Ontier, in a press release. “With Pixetell, you are no longer hostage to other peoples’ schedules, waiting on web conferences or meetings. Pixetell also removes the struggle of using email for tasks that are difficult to describe using text.”

When I first saw a demo of Pixetell—from DEMO 09—earlier this year and heard about its “Windows only” stipulations, I assumed that it would be incorporated into an email client, serving as an add-on to Outlook or Exchange Server.



But I was wrong. Pixetell is a fully installed app. And instead of attaching to Outlook, it turns out that it attaches itself to your entire desktop.

The result? A Web conference environment that you can use whenever you want. With an ease of use that compares to Jing, the popular screencasting tool.

But it doesn’t stop there.

Pixetell also offers a simple editing suite that allows to combine video, screen captures, and audio in a variety of ways. Cut segments short. Rearrange the order of the clips. And pack them up for someone else. All from within Pixetell.

So where does email come into play? Well, while Pixetell is designed to improve the communications that usually take place in email, it still requires email as a method of distribution. But don’t worry. Email is only a conveyance here. If you want, all of the discourse can easily take place within Pixetell itself.

Now while Windows is the only platform that can create Pixetells—Ontier is promising Mac OS support by the end of 2009—any platform can read them because they’re built in Flash. All it takes is a Web browser with a Flash plugin to interact with and comment on a Pixetell.

And I have to admit—even though I was just monkeying with it—it was really nice to have that screencasting menu always available, no matter what I was doing. If you’ve ever used Skitch, it had that same kind of feel: always at the ready for a quick capture.

Ontier Pixetell control panel

In fact, the only drawback I could come up with so far? No embedding feature. So even if you created an awesome screencast that you want to share with everyone, you’re only going to be able to link to it. But that’s a minor issue that doesn’t impact the usefulness of the tool.

Another thing to bear in mind? This is a crowded market. With a variety of screencasting tools available, products already in the space—like ProofHQ, ConceptShare, Collab and CreationFlow as Allen Stern of CenterNetworks highlights—and some big gorillas who promote Web conferencing—like Cisco WebEx, Microsoft Live Meeting, and Adobe Acrobat Connect Pro—there’s some significant noise to overcome.

But then again, let’s be honest. That Web conferencing technology hasn’t improved for eons.

Need visuals? Try Pixetell

Now admittedly, Pixetell isn’t going to be for everyone. But if you’ve ever sat in front of a blank email wishing you could just show the person on the other end how to do something, Pixetell may be exactly what you’re looking for.

Anyone can try Pixetell for free. If you like what you’re seeing, you can choose from two price points: $9 per month—for quick visual communications—or $19 per month for Pixetell Pro. If you’re interested in keeping the conversation going, you’re going to need to step up to Pixetell Pro at the $19 price as it’s the one with conversation support.

For more information on the product, visit Pixetell. For more on the company, visit Ontier.

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