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Thanks for stopping by the HuddleRoom site.  This site is dedicated to helping individuals and small business owners understand the options that are available to help their teams communicate and collaborate at little to no cost.

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HuddleRooms and Team Rooms
Web Based Office Tools
Communications and Conferencing Products
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Collaboration Products To Try

We've taken a look at a number of great and not so great products you can use to support collaboration.  Many of the BEST of the bunch are free.

We've included products that range from those you can use to share files to online editing of files to sites that will allow project or business teams to collaborate, sharing documents, links, and calendars.

There are now a huge number of collaboration solutions available to individuals and businesses.  These range from individual tools to make your personal job easier to larger collaboration sites for team collaboration.  Here is a sampling of some of the better ones that have gained some traction

Huddle Rooms and Team Rooms

Microsoft SharePoint Foundation (Team Services) - When Microsoft released its SharePoint environment it changed the way people would use computers to collaborate. SharePoint is basically a document management system, and includes components for such communications related activities as announcements, managing links, photos, and discussions.  Today the free "team site" version is called Windows Foundation Services. In order to deploy this product you need a Windows infrastructure.  While the team product is free, there is a cost to the actual deployment.  There are vendors that will sell you a team site at a monthly cost per user.  Information on Windows Foundation Services can be found here

Google Sites (Free) - Google Sites is an easy way to create secure web pages for intranets and team projects. What you get is an online web site where you can share documents, spreadsheets, calendars, links, calendars, and  videos - for free.  Available to individuals and small businesses of us to 50 users, all each person needs is a GMAIL account to create a team site.  For over 50 users you can sign up for Google Apps for Business for only $50 per user per year.  Google provides up to 100 MB of storage for free users and 10 Gb of storage for paid Google Apps users.  This is much less than even the maintenance (support) cost for Microsoft Office per year - what a deal.  You can find Google Sites at Sites.Google.Com

Google Apps for Business ($50/user/year) - As I noted above,  Google has extended the free version of Google Apps to businesses above 50 users - or users with extended requirements beyond the free version.  Google Apps for Business includes the following:

Document  TypesWeb Based Office Tools

Microsoft Office Web Apps (Free) - Providing Web based versions of Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote, Microsoft provides users with a free version of their tools online.  Available to users with a free Windows Live or Hotmail account, they are used with the free SkyDrive as the storage location.  You can find these applications at Office.Live.com

Google Apps (Free) - The predecessor to the Microsoft offering, and considered the driver of Microsoft's offering, Google offers web based office productivity tools based on the Open Office project.  These applications can read and write files that are Microsoft Office compatible.  Google tends to lead Microsoft in this area by offering features that directly compete with Microsoft product offerings, only for free or at a very low cost.  The latest addition to the Google Apps suite is Google Sites, a free alternative to Microsoft's SharePoint Web Services (SharePoint Foundation Services).  See the Team Room section (above) for more information on this.  You can find Google Apps at Apps.Google.com (what a concept)

team conferencingCommunications and Conferencing Products You Need To Explore

Skype - Skype provides many different types of communications options such as making free voice telephone calls (Skype to Skype computers), free Video calls (Skype to Skype computers) as well as very low cost communications options, including conference calling, group video calling, and the ability to share an application on your screen on the video call.  Very low rates make this an attractive service. You can get more information at Skype.com

Google Voice (Free) - With Google Voice you can get a free telephone account from any area code in the USA.  Google Voice provides the same computer based calling of Skype, but also gives you free calling to any telephone number in the USA. The big differentiator here are the features, which are massive.  You can associate the Google Voice number with you mobile, home, and office phones and have it ring at all locations at the same time.  Voice mail is great - you can listen in as the message is being left, you get a GMAIL message after the message is left with both the transcribed version (text) and the audio version to play.  You can respond with an SMS message back to the caller.  The list goes on and on.  Clearly a completely reinvented telephone service.  Find it at Google.com/voice

ooVoo - ooVoo is a Video chat/conferencing tool.  ooVoo comes in a free version, which is ad supported and allows up to 3 participants on a call for free and 6 participants with some cost.  In addition, there are monthly plans for $9.95 per month and $29.95 per month that provide High-Res video conferences plus a multitude of additional features.  More info can be found at ooVoo.com

Storage RacksOnline Storage and File Sharing 

Box - Box is a similar online storage facility to Dropbox, but with more sharing and security features. With Box you can Share content with direct links to files and folders, turn any folder into a public webpage in one click and create widgets to share files on a company web page or blog.  The free (personal) edition gives 5 gig of storage with a 25 MB file size limit (additional storage and bigger files sizes available at a cost). The "Business User version provides 500 gig of storage, adds password based sharing, and syncs the common files to the PCs connected to the Box.  Also there is Google Apps integration if desired.  there is also an enterprise edition which requires custom discussions for cost proposals.  the bottom line on Box is that the Personal Edition is not as feature rich as the Dropbox, but the Business edition has more features.  You can find more information at Box.Net

Carbonite - Carbonite is a system backup product.  It is listed here for completeness and for those that may misunderstand what it is from its radio commercials.  It costs 54.95 per year per computer with unlimited online backup.  you can get more information at Carbonite.com

Drop Box - Dropbox describes its service as the easiest way to store, sync, and, share files online. It ios a remarkably simple service to use.  You add a small application to your PC that places a Dropbox icon in the tray.  You can create folders in your Dropbox, and use the Dropbox folder to hold files you need to share among your different PCs (laptop, desktop, phone, etc.) or with other members of your project team or family.  A 2 gig Dropbox is Free.  Fifty gig is $9.99 per month and 100 gig is $19.99 per month.  You can get more info at DropBox.Com

Mosy - Mosy is another online backup service for your PC.  Offered in both a home and business version.  The Home version is $5.99 per month for a 50 gig storage area and $9.99 per month for a 125 gig storage area.  Additional computers are $2 per month per computer.  MosyPro is for business users and provicdes more control over how Mosy works and how it is managed for multiple users.  MosyPro is priced at $3.95 per month + $0.50 per gbyte per user.  Servers are priced at $6.95 + $0.50 per gbyte per server.


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