QNext is an integrated communications suite, with IM, voice, and video-chat components. But it also allows you to share files securely--with no size restrictions--and it has special photo and music capabilities as well. QNext even lets you gain remote access to your computer through a standard Web browser.
Installation and set up are painless. You simply download the software, install it, and create an account--and you can begin adding IM accounts and creating folders of files that you want to share. Network configuration and input device detection--for hardware such as microphones and cameras--is automatic. To add friends, you enter your log-in data for popular instant messaging systems like AIM and Google Talk, and then ask your friends to download, install, and register for QNext.
Once you have one or more friends enrolled in your list of QNext contacts, you can set up shared folders through "zones." Click File, Share Content to open the QNext explorer. Then click Share Folders and Files and drag and drop the data you want to share. You can set up secure sharing by adding only QNext contacts, or you can make the files publicly available to anyone with a Web browser by selecting 'Broadcast to Web browsers'.
The interface of the application opens with a vertical list of contacts from the IM accounts that you added during initial setup. You gain access to more features, options, and settings by clicking the blue monitor icon for the Explorer. In the Explorer you set up groups of shared files and folders, as well as permissions for access--one folder could be public, another could be for one specific user. The Explorer is also where you manage other settings, including chat, video, and audio. From there, you can set up shared files and folders, and browse and search data that others have shared with you.
One particularly nice aspect of QNext is that other users needn't have the application installed in order to receive messages, shared files, or photos, or even to listen to music streamed from your shared library. QNext's servers make much of your content available publicly via browsers, if you wish, so you can simply send a URL over IM or e-mail. If you want the transfers to be private and secure, however, both parties must have QNext installed.
You'll also need to have QNext turned on and running if you or your contacts need to access the data or use the machine via remote access. This is great if you have a machine at home or at the office that is online around the clock anyway. If you use a laptop, turning off your machine, letting it lapse into sleep or standby mode, or losing your Internet connection will cut off anyone who is connected to a download or stream from one of your music playlists.
Another potential bottleneck is bandwidth. Contacts can access files and streams only as fast as your machine can upload--and since most personal users on networks have limited upstream bandwidth, simultaneously downloading or streaming more than a few files music from your machine will quickly push it to the limit.
Note: This link takes you to the vendor's site, where you can download the latest version of the software.