reviewed Tinychat, an easy to use web app for creating on-demand chatrooms with close connections to Twitter. Today, Tinychat relaunches with a number of very cool features, including video chats with up to 12 people, recording, screen sharing, and a Facebook application for video chats on Facebook. The new version of Tinychat keeps a lot of the features that we liked in the text-only version (no need to sign up, very easy to use, vanity room names), and adds the new video features on top of that.A few months ago, we
Easy to Use
One of the nicest things about Tinychat is how easy it is to use. Just head over to their site, click on create room, choose a username (no need to register), and allow Adobe Flash to access your webcam. You can also just use a microphone or join the old-school text chat. You also have the option to send a message to your Twitter followers if you want them to join you in the chat room. The free version of Tinychat will have very few privacy controls, though the room owner (generally the first person to enter a room), can ban users or mute them. The most complicated thing to figure out for new users is how to choose their webcam and to remember to click the "start broadcasting" button if they want to participate in the video chat.
Facebook application, which replicates most of the functionality of the regular web app, though with a different layout.Tinychat is also available as a
Up to 12 users can be on video simultaneously and up to 100 users can watch the stream live. If you want to give it a try, just join our RWW video chat room here.
Pro Version: Better Video Quality, Recording, and Screen Sharing
Some of the best features of Tinychat are hidden behind a pay wall. Tinychat offers a pro version for $20 a month which will come with better video quality (though the regular video quality isn't too bad). Other features available with the pro version are: the ability to reserve names for up to five rooms, more privacy controls (including password protected rooms), and, maybe most importantly, the ability to record and save your conferences.
For now, the pro account allows you to download the various streams separately as FLV files and edit them in your favorite video editor (though you might need a converter to turn the Flash video into a format that your video editor can use). Soon, though, Tinychat Pro will also give users a widget that will allow paying users to just embed a video with the recorded chat as well.
Sadly, the screen sharing feature is only available for paying customers. We got a chance to test it, though, and while it only refreshes about once a second, and would hence not work well if you were planning to stream videos over it, the image quality was excellent and the refresh rate is probably sufficient for most of the online demos it would most likely be used for.
We talked to Tinychat's CEO, Dan Blake, as he and his team were developing this new app over the last few weeks. He told us that, as part of Tinychat's business model, the company will also provide white-label versions of Tinychat to corporations which will not have any limits on the number of viewers.
While Tinychat will be great for just getting a group of friends together, we could also see how this could be a great tool to easily create a video podcast with multiple guests (similar to what TechVi is doing, for example). In some ways, the new Tinychat is similar to the now defunct Yahoo Live platform, though with more features and an easier to use interface. Yahoo abandoned this product last November, but Tinychat might just find a nice niche here, especially thanks to its close connection to social media tools like Twitter and Facebook.
Give it a Spin
If you would like to try Tinychat out with us, just head over to our room here.