What’s Worth a Nickel a Day?

For the finest in screencasting software on the market, I always sing the praises of TechSmith’s Camtasia Studio, as the software is simple to use and includes bells and whistles that now make it an extraordinary video-editing tool as well. However, if you simply can’t afford this fine software (it’s not cheap, though educators get a great discount) or have no need for many of its advanced features, other tools can probably meet your needs, including (but not limited to) Jing, Screenr, and Screencast-O-Matic. This blog post focuses on Screencast-O-Matic’s “Pro” option, which I recently purchased and have found to be much more than I had bargained for.

(Note: When I mention “SOM” below, I am referring to Screencast-O-Matic.)

I’ve been familiar with Screencast-O-Matic for some time now as a quality free screencasting application. Only recently did I consider upgrading to the “Pro” version for $15 per year, and I am so glad I did! The basic, free tool is excellent for what it offers: up to 15 minutes of recording time; the capability to publish the video file to your computer, keep it on the SOM server, or upload to YouTube; and inclusion of your webcam in your recordings, if desired. However, for less than a nickel a day, the upgrade offers features that are hard to believe. Here are just a few:

  • With the upgrade, you can create videos longer than the free version’s 15-minute limit. (If you publish the videos on the SOM server, the 15-minute limit still exists, but if you publish them elsewhere, such as to your own computer, the videos may be significantly longer.)
  • You can create webcam-only recordings. This is a great option, as sometimes you just want to record a quick talk, with no need to show anything on your desktop.
  • You can access drawing and zooming tools while recording as well as editing tools before publishing a video—two extraordinary features missing from most free tools. These are not the most advanced tools on the market, but they are more than adequate for general purposes.
  • When you download the software to your computer for offline use, the resulting system tray icon makes screen recording, as well as taking simple screenshots, super easy. I am especially impressed with the option to take screenshots via this icon and the capability to set a keyboard shortcut to do so.

Screencast-O-Matic provides other great features in its upgrade option, and you’ll be wise to go to the Screencast-O-Matic website to review them all. If you are looking for something not quite as advanced as Camtasia Studio but more deluxe than a 5-minute-maximum recorder like Screenr or Jing, then Screencast-O-Matic is possibly your best option. For just a bit more than 4 cents a day, how could you go wrong? As an instructional designer in higher education, and because of the affordability of the product, I plan to tout Screencast-O-Matic to my faculty member audience as much as I sing the praises of TechSmith’s Camtasia Studio.

The "Pro" version offers more options for publishing as well as an editing feature!
The “Pro” version offers more options for publishing as well as an editing feature!

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