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Jing, the all-in-one screen capture and recording tool from TechSmith, reviewed

TechSmith, with the launch of Snagit more than 20 years ago, is the definitive veteran of screen capture technology. Camtasia Studio, launched almost 10 years later, is now at version 7.1 and remains the best screen recording and video editing suite out there. TechSmith's latest tool, however, is an interesting mix of both Snagit and Camtasia. It's called Jing, and it makes sharing screenshots and screen recordings a total breeze.

Jing, at its most basic, lets you take perfect screenshots. You can drag a selection box around the target area, or let it snap to the current window. It's not as customizable as Snagit or Screenpresso, but it's definitely good enough.

When you probe a little deeper, however, Jing becomes a lot more interesting. Instead of taking a screenshot of a selected area or window, you can hit the 'Capture video' button and immediately start recording.

But it gets even better! Jing can automatically upload your screenshots and videos to TechSmith's Screencast.com site.
As you can see above, Jing places a 'sun' menu on the edge of your desktop, giving you easy access to Capture, History and More (configuration). The sun has a few cute animations, and you can 'throw' it against any side of your desktop.

If you don't like the sun radial menu, you can access the same options from the system tray -- and you can set a shortcut key for capturing (such as Prt Scrn).

Screen recording

Screenshots are exciting, but recording your screen is far more exciting. Has your mom or dad ever phoned up and asked how to make Outlook or iTunes work? Well, now you can just open the app on your computer and record a little clip -- with audio, too!

With the free version of Jing you can only record in SWF, but the quality is more than good enough. The pro version gives you the option of recording in MPEG-4, and presumably removes the Jing branding at the end of the video.

It seems like the framerate is pretty low, presumably to keep file size and computational requirements down -- but there's no option to change it, which is annoying.


Uploading to the cloud

Of course, no new app would be complete without cloud integration. Launched back in 2008, Screencast.com is something of a YouTube/Dropbox hybrid. After you upload a file from Jing, you have the choice of sharing the video with a direct link, or embedding the video on your website or blog. Using Screencast.com is nowhere near as smooth as SugarSync or Dropbox, though -- but it does work.

Everyone gets 2GB of storage and 2GB of traffic per month, for free, and it costs a rather massive $10/month to upgrade.


Conclusion

Jing does a lot, and it does it for free. It's a little rough around the edges -- why do images and videos not auto-save?! -- and is almost entirely unconfigurable. The two-click screen capturing is fantastic, though, and the ability to send short clips to friends and family via Screencast.com is definitely a killer feature. It's also worth noting that, thanks to the excellent Jing Learning Center, Jing is very newbie-friendly.

Tags: camtasia, jing, screen capture, screen recording, ScreenCapture, screencast, ScreenRecording, screenshots, snagit, techsmith

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