Air vs Widen: A Comparison
A deadline is looming and you need to dig up some old designs to fill out the deliverable. Do you know where your content is? Decades into the digital era, any business that’s been around for a few years has gigabytes upon gigabytes of files sitting around on local hard drives, USB drives, cloud storage platforms, and in email attachments. So much of what modern workers produce ends up improperly stored — distributed and difficult to access. That’s where digital asset management solutions come in.
The digital asset management software market is populated with a variety of choices. At the most basic level, you have Dropbox and Google Drive, which offer cloud storage but lack the specific functionality of full-fledged asset management tools. On the other end of the spectrum, there’s specialized tools like Bynder, Brandfolder, Canto, Widen, and Air. This article dives into specific features of the latter two platforms, and is meant to serve as a guide for anyone struggling to figure out which one best serves their needs.
What is digital asset management (DAM)?
First, let’s make sure you understand what’s meant by digital asset management, or DAM for short. What is the purpose of these tools, exactly? We’ve created an in-depth guide to digital asset management, but here’s a quick overview.
Digital asset management is the art and science of organizing digital assets. Libraries and the Dewey Decimal System allow us to organize and easily navigate traditional media like books and newspapers. Digital asset management software allows us to do the same with digital assets like photographs and PDFs. DAMs are a category of software as a service (SaaS) products that allow individuals and organizations to store, organize, review, and share their digital assets efficiently.
Although Air is a fresh product relative to Widen, it offers a competitive range of features. Air’s primary feature categories include smart search; visual workspace; seamless collaboration; flexible structure; content transfer; content strategy; versions; and creative review. Each category encompasses a variety of specific tools and functions. For example, “smart search” means bookmarking, auto-tagging, image recognition, color recognition, and custom fields. New features are constantly in development — at the time of writing, full integration with Adobe Premiere Pro is just days away.
The majority of users will find every feature they need to manage and utilize their content within Air already. Do you see everything you need … except for one thing? Maybe an integration with an important tool in your team’s software stack? The Air team is committed to collaborative relationships with all clients. So if you love the product, but you really wish it had just that one more feature, simply reach out and ask!
Widen’s primary feature categories include: brand; manage; search; share; produce; collaborate; analyze; secure; access; integrate. As with Air, each of these categories includes a variety of specific tools and functions within. Just like Air, Widen has AI-backed automated asset tagging to enable quick and precise searches.
As a legacy product, Widen has a higher volume of features than Air. The question is, do you need every single one? With legacy products, it’s easy to end up paying more for features you might not even use. With a new-generation product like Air, you get all the features you’ll feasibly need at a more sensible price point. If you do reach out to the team at Widen, be sure to ask how much bandwidth they have to build custom products and integrations — since they’re an older, larger company than Air, they may not be as agile.
Air’s greatest strength is its accessibility, something that extends beyond the product’s ease of use itself. Anyone can start using Air for free with nearly full functionality, without needing to provide payment information. It's a freemium product — the main difference between a free user and a paid user is simply that paid users have more storage space. Free users get 5 GB to start, as well as three seats for workspace members. That’s enough to dip a toe into the tool and test out the features.
There are three basic user tiers. Free is described in the above paragraph; Plus includes 200 GB, at $12 per user per month; Pro includes 2,000 GB, at $30 per user per month. For organizations with more specific needs, Air is always happy to design custom Enterprise plans.
All of Air’s existing Enterprise-level users are on slightly different plans. Some required new, custom features; others required massive amounts of storage. One of the benefits of choosing Air is the agility and willingness of the team — if there’s a good fit, Air’s team is willing to build exactly the tools your organization needs. Image-recognition powered search came from an Enterprise conversation, as did the Adobe Premiere Pro integration, and more yet-to-be-announced features.
Widen is a legacy product with legacy pricing — unlike Air, it does not follow the freemium model. Though it lacks a free version, you can contact the company through their website for a free trial. Like most other brands in the DAM space, there’s also no transparent pricing information available on the company website. Generally, legacy companies like Widen are very sales-driven, skipping the self-serve plans offered by Air and only offering customized deals.
Sharing and Collaboration
The baseline of a good DAM platform is clean, searchable, structured storage. After that, you’re probably looking for intuitive sharing capabilities and real-time collaboration potential. You’ll find all of the above in Air.
When you’re trying to share files with a colleague, but they’re too large for an email, just upload to Air and share a link. No file is too large or small for Air — you can upload and download files of any size whatsoever. To share any file (or an entire board full of assets and sub-boards), simply create a public share link and send it out.
Share links never expire, and you can set permissions around what public viewers can view, download, upload, and comment on. You can even passcode-protect a share link, if you’re on a Pro plan. Whoever you share the link with doesn’t even need to create an Air account!
In terms of real-time collaboration, Air offers a variety of features, with more in the pipeline. If there’s a specific board you use constantly, simply follow it to receive notifications anytime anyone uploads a new asset, leaves a comment on an asset, or uploads a new version of an asset. You can also tag anyone in your workspace directly within a comment.
New features are constantly in the works — timestamp commenting for video assets will be released soon. Air is a central workspace where teams working around visual content can come together and get on the same page.
Widen shares much of the same sharing and collaboration features with Air. What Air calls “public boards,” Widen calls “Portals.” Both are external-facing, sharable pages where people outside of your workspace can see and interact with assets.
As for collaboration capabilities, Widen also offers similar features to Air. You can set up notifications around the assets and folders that matter to you the most. You can comment on assets. You can see the history of an asset. Air does this too, allowing you to stack different versions of the same asset together.
Both platforms are great for sharing files of any size and collaborating on the creative process for visual content.
Air is a fresh product built to address the current moment and beyond. The co-founders, Shane Hegde and Tyler Strand, created Air because they were frustrated with the limitations of existing cloud storage and collaboration tools. Air is already well-established and growing at a rapid pace — one of the benefits of working with a tool and company in the growth stage is you’re treated as a collaborator, not just a client.
Widen, also known as The Widen Collective, has existed in various iterations for seven decades. It was founded as an engraving company, then created print materials, and in the 90s, started doing the kind of storage work it’s known for today. The benefit of age is a large feature library; the flaw is a lack of agility.
Air was built for now. Widen was built for the needs of the 90s, and has been updated constantly since then to address emergent needs in the industry. Air offers accessible pricing; Widen’s pricing is opaque. If you’re looking for a DAM solution that will grow with you from your first social media posts onward, Air is undoubtedly the best choice. That said, try both products for yourself — Widen does offer a free trial. See how it feels to navigate in each and get a feel for the user experience. Then, when you’re ready, talk to the team at Air. They’re happy to help.
For more product information, and to learn how Air works at various client organizations, explore the Customer Stories page.