GoToMeeting gets high-definition video conferencing

Citrix GoToMeeting (s ctxs), a web conferencing solution that we’ve written about previously, has unveiled the ability to create high-definition video conferences. The new service, which is dubbed HDFaces and was announced last October, allows users to create video conferences with up to six attendees at no additional cost.

The new feature is built into the latest version of the GoToMeeting software, and doesn’t require any fancy equipment — any webcam and microphone will do, although headsets will most likely be needed to keep room noise down, or users can choose to dial into an audio bridge. Each stream can be displayed at a resolution of 640 x 480 pixels, for a total maximum resolution of 1920 x 960 pixels.

I attended a demo with four attendees, and found it to be easy to use, and the quality to be very good. If you’ve used GoToMeeting before, you know that the software (available for Windows (s msft) or Mac (s mac)) isĀ  quick to download, and doesn’t generally require any fiddling with settings. Audio was perfect, and video quality was quite acceptable for standard “talking head” meetings. The folks at GoToMeeting told me that they decided to limit the service to six simultaneous users in order to maintain video quality — plus, with more users, the video thumbnails for each person would be pretty hard to see.

The program automatically displays a split screen divided into the appropriate number of boxes need to show each participant, and a screen sharing space when desired. GoToMeeting has added some useful touches, like a subtle white outline that shows who’s talking at any given moment, and the ability to resize the viewable area to maximize the shared desktop if desired.

The new service occupies a niche between Skype (s msft) and some of the higher-end video conferencing options that require sophisticated hardware. For organizations and individuals that won’t use the service often enough to justify GoToMeeting’s cost, similar technology will be available later in the year through Skype, since Citrix will be powering Skype’s upcoming web conferencing service.

HDFaces is available to existing GoToMeeting customers and trial users at no additional cost over the service’s standard pricing, which begins at $49/month or $468/year. A 30-day free online trial is available at the service’s website.

Do you use GoToMeeting? Will the addition of video capabilities make the service more attractive?