TechSmith’s Camtasia Studio is arguably the best video screen capture tool in the market – unless you want to record your gaming sessions, for which GameCam remains my top pick. Unknown to many, TechSmith has another offering aimed at users who don’t need all the fancy features offered by Camtasia.
Jing is Camtasia Studio’s little sibling. It is available in two flavours – free and premium. In this review, I will restrict myself to the free version.
Jing has a stunning interface, which is both functional and beautiful. The bundled interactive tutorial is excellent and ensures that even your technically challenged relatives can use Jing effortlessly.
You can start recording by using Jing’s hotkey or system tray icon. However, the most convenient way to trigger Jing is to use the intuitive overlay icon (‘Sun Launcher’) that is displayed on the edge of your screen.
Although, I have been describing Jing as a video screen capture tool, it is capable of taking screenshots (static snapshots) as well. However, if screenshots are all you are interested in, then there are plenty of better free alternatives.
Jing gives you the option of capturing the entire screen or a selected region. I loved having the option to record videos in fixed aspect ratios like 4:9 (hold Ctrl while selecting the region) and 4:10 (hold Shift while selecting the region). Another handy feature worth mentioning is Jing’s ability to automatically detect different objects displayed on your screen.
Jing can come in handy for recording screencasts and saving online streaming videos, since it supports audio recording via microphone as well. The quality of the recorded video is fantastic. In fact, it is much better than some of the other alternatives.
What sets Jing apart are its inbuilt social features. You can instantly upload the recorded media to screencast.net, which provides you with a free 2GB webspace. You also have the option of uploading the image or video to Twitter, Facebook, Flickr or your own web server. YouTube integration is reserved for the premium version.
Unfortunately, the free version is also limited in several ways. The biggest drawback is that Jing allows you to save videos only as SWF (Shockwave Flash) files. This can be a potential deal breaker for many users, since most online video sharing websites like YouTube don’ accept SWF files. Fortunately, converting SWF files to AVI is pretty easy. The previously reviewed Format Factory can take care of this and other conversion needs. The other significant restriction is that you will only be able to record up to 5 minutes at a stretch. So, if you are planning to use Jing for recording long screencasts, podcasts or other serious stuff you will need the pro version. Moreover, the free version doesn’t appear to be equipped to handle recording HQ video playback. Basic video editing facilities and features like text annotation are also missing.
If you are looking for a simple and elegant utility to record online streaming videos, create brief tutorials or produce short screencasts, then Jing free is an excellent option. However, if you require support for common codec formats along with basic editing functionalities you will be better serviced by an alternative like Debut Video Capture Software.