COVID-19 Pandemic aside, businesses are moving further apart and have been doing so for some time through various video conferencing software. With many small to midsize businesses (SMBs) spreading out across many geographic locations. In the end, this brings complex challenges for communication, even for employees that work in-house.
Add customers and partners to the mix, and it’s difficult to think about talking to all of these folks. Of course, without extensive travel, which brings restrictive costs. This is where video conferencing can deliver a serious boost to your company’s bottom line. And as stay-at-home work orders look to become a long-term trend.
But, there are some of the best video conferencing software you can use out there. Keeping in mind, this has become the go-to solution worldwide. Particularly for not just business meetings, but employee socialization. That’s why in this profile guide, I tested and compared the 10 best video conferencing software solutions you can get out there. This will help you choose the right one to stay connected with.
What is Video Conferencing?
For many information-oriented workers, especially those in larger metro/urban areas, working at home will likely become even more epic. Lasting into the years of 2021 and beyond. A major contributor to the success of this strategy has been the innovative side of video conferencing.
Basically, video conferencing software facilitates initiating and conducting live conferences between two or more participants at different sites. By using computer networks to transmit audio, video, and text data. And most of them let users communicate and share and collaborate on files.
Usually, video conferencing services often offer more than just face-to-face interactions. While some of the best-in-class video conferencing services (like Teamviewer) let users share their screens. And also, remotely access one another’s desktops as well as, chat via text and exchange files.
In addition, they allow us to communicate via digital whiteboards and even broadcast conferences to large groups of passive viewers. Some are part of business-geared Voice-over-IP (VoIP) packages. Allowing for dynamically changing voice calls to video calls and shared meetings at the touch of a button.
What is the Cost of Video Conferencing?
As with all software services; pricing and packages are important considerations when it comes to video conferencing. The prices quoted and the product descriptions in this review roundup are typically for the lowest level of service per user per month.
However, for more pricing information, click through to the individual reviews. All but one of the video conferencing services tested offers free trials. Most are for 30 days and many don’t require a credit card on file. This means you don’t have to worry about being charged automatically when the trial ends.
For example, join.me; offers a free plan with limited features, which is good for small or even single-employee companies. Many services are scalable depending on the number of hosts and attendees you need. That’s why I recommend trying a few of the top-rated video conferencing services listed below.
In that case, before committing to a particular one that best suits your business needs. Also, try out some of the features to figure out what you really need and what’s overkill.
Which is the Best Video Conferencing Software?
Stay connected with coworkers, friends, and family with the best video conferencing software on the market. Not forgetting, advances in technology mean that reliable video conferencing has become accessible and affordable. And can easily serve the modern workplace.
This has become especially important during the current Coronavirus Pandemic. But which is my 10 best video conferencing software for 2020 and beyond. First, my Editors’ Choice video conferencing service for general video conferencing is Cisco WebEx Meetings.
Secondly, my Editors’ Choice video conferencing service for webinars and presentations is ClickMeeting. And forthwith, both are robust products that make video meetings (almost) fun for your staff.
The top 10 best software include;
- RingCentral Video,
- Microsoft Teams,
- Google Meet,
- Zoom Meetings,
- U Meeting,
- Bluejeans Meetings,
- Lifesize, etc.
With this in mind, let’s have a look at each of them below with their accessibility and key features.
GoToMeeting is the standalone web conferencing service provided by LogMeIn. And as expected it provides audio and video conferencing, as well as screen-sharing services.
One of the features that sets GoToMeetings apart is its mobile friendliness. Whereby, you can set up and start a conference from your smartphone. Something some big brand software would struggle to do. There are also settings to maximize call and image quality. As well as one-tap invites to join meetings and chats.
Mobile apps are provided separately for Android and iOS, and both have high positive review volumes. Again, which makes a change from some other providers. Who struggle to balance quality and usability with mobile use.
2. RingCentral Video
Overall, RingCentral Video is a solid performer that offers high-quality video conferencing software for businesses. It is loaded with features, offers a high degree of administrator control, and is optimized to work on web browsers, minimizing the need for additional applications and software.
Each of RingCentral’s plans includes a full range of industry-standard features. These include, among many others, video call scheduling and recording, screen sharing and annotation, and in-built chat functionalities.
Undoubtedly, however, RingCentral’s greatest feature is its integration of Slack, G Suite, and Microsoft 365. This means users can schedule and begin calls directly from these 3rd party platforms.
Users are also able to integrate their calendar with the RingCentral platform, and easily visualize their schedule for the day. This cross-platform integration also makes RingCentral Video ideal for businesses that already use Slack, G Suite, or Microsoft 365 for digital collaboration.
3. Microsoft Teams
Overall, Microsoft Teams is ideal for businesses who already use Microsoft 365, or who are looking to reinvent their organization’s digital communication and collaboration workspaces. Integration with Microsoft 365 makes the platform the market leader in video conferencing and digital workspace integration.
Within one application, Microsoft Teams enables users to schedule video or audio meetings with a single person or a team. Administrators can also organize webinars and large meetings with up to 10,000 participants.
Full integration with Microsoft 365 means that calls can be easily scheduled and invites shared among the organization. While external guests can join from their web browser without downloading the application.
Microsoft Teams also provides the full range of features expected from a leading video conferencing software provider. Including screen sharing and call recording, live captions, background blur technology, and chat functionalities.
4. Google Meet
Developed specifically for business needs, it can cater to a large number of users at once, and also uses smart participation and a fast interface to reduce the need to wait.
As an improved version of the standard Google Hangouts, Google Meet aims to make it easier to work with external clients. It does this first by providing a web app experience, which means there is no software to download.
Secondly, it also provides a dedicated dial-in number, which not only means that employees on the go can join in, but also ensures that line quality is maintained and that there are no drop-outs.
Ultimately, Google Meet is a serious business-grade conferencing platform that doesn’t require big up-front costs for hardware, making it especially accessible for businesses of any size. The other big plus is that Hangouts itself doesn’t come with the big monthly costs that other providers might charge.
5. Zoom Meetings
Zoom Meetings offers a video conferencing and messaging solution for desktop and mobile devices, that aims to be very quick and easy to set up, and offer a wide range of scaleable features. Automated scheduling can be done from Gmail, Outlook, and iCal.
Not only does it provide HD video and audio, but it can support up to 1,000 participants at the same time, and up to 49 videos on a single screen, though such large gatherings, are probably best suited to big-screen monitors.
Meetings can be saved locally or to the cloud, along with transcripts that have searchable text to work with. Additionally, collaboration is built-in with the ability for participants to share their screens and work together to provide their own notes as required.
On top of this, a team chat feature allows for file sharing, a searchable history, and a ten-year archive. Meetings can also be escalated into one-on-one calls. Also, security is built-in, using 256-bit TLS encryption for both meetings and shared files.
Absolutely, ClickMeeting is loaded with features for webinar hosts. To start with, the software includes just about all the tools you could want during a presentation. You can share your screen, play slideshows, and videos. And even let attendees take over your mouse to explore an interactive display.
Better yet, ClickMeeting supports question-and-answer sessions and live polls, so you can get your audience participating and collect valuable data about attendees.
What’s really exciting about ClickMeeting for data-driven businesses is how the software integrates with analytics and marketing tools. You can embed a Facebook pixel on your webinar’s landing page or connect that page to Google Analytics. Your webinar page is also fully customizable, enabling you to show off your brand.
ClickMeeting even offers integrations with a number of popular business apps. You can link your Dropbox to have your webinar recordings automatically stored in the cloud, or use Zapier to integrate with an email marketing platform or CRM software.
7. U Meeting
Cyberlink U Meeting is entirely web-based. This might put some users off but it can be an advantage as you will not need to download any additional software to use U Meeting. It also does not offer video recording or the ability to dial into meetings using VoIP systems.
U Meeting has four pricing plans. The ‘Basic’ plan is free. It includes up to 25 participants and 30 minutes per meeting. ‘Pro 50’ is $29.99 per host per month ($15/month when paid yearly). It includes up to 50 participants, 24 hours per meeting, admin tools, and PerfectCam.
‘Pro 100’ starts at $49.99 per user per month ($25/month when paid yearly). This includes all ‘Pro 50’ has to offer plus up to 100 participants. The ‘Enterprise Features’ plan includes all the other tiers offerings plus meeting analysis, premium customer support, and end-to-end encryption. Users need to contact sales for a quote.
‘PerfectCam’ is the most random feature. Users can add computer-generated makeup to their faces with the company promising to ‘create a truly professional look’.
BigBlueButton is arguably the best open-source video conferencing software solution for online learning. Compared to most video conferencing solutions it’s difficult to set up, but it’s free and has all the features of expensive commercial online learning video conferencing software, and performance is great.
It is packed with features perfect for online learning webinars. During sessions, you can share audio, video, presentations, and your desktop while also collaborating with students using a whiteboard, shared notes, polls, and chat.
Where BigBlueButton goes further than traditional video conferencing software is in its features useful to a virtual classroom. For example, you have a multi-user whiteboard and can place students into group breakout rooms to work on problems together.
9. BlueJeans Meetings
BlueJeans Meetings seems to have fewer features than some of its nearest competitors however this is overlooked due to the quality of its system along with the fact users can utilize the 30-day free trial to see if it suits their needs.
The ‘Bluejeans Enterprise’ package includes all the features of the other plans along with connection H.323//SIP room systems, room system calendar support, and up to 150 participants. Users need to contact BlueJeans directly in order to get a quote.
Users do not have to sign up for an annual subscription with BlueJeans. The basic tier supports free phone audio in over 40 countries. BlueJeans also supports Dolby’s voice. This might suit users who are more concerned about video quality rather than the number of features included with the platform.
The ‘Standard’ tier costs $9.99 per month per user when paid annually. Users can have up to 50 attendees, connect from any computer, iOS, or Android device and all meetings include dial-in numbers.
The ‘Bluejeans Pro’ plan is $13.99 per month per host (when paid annually) and includes all the lower tier had to offer plus 10 hours of cloud meeting recordings, command center dashboard, and up to 75 participants.
Lifesize was founded in 2003. The company’s main branches are located in Austin, Texas, and Munich, Germany. Lifesize provides high-definition video conferencing endpoints, touchscreen conference room phones, and a cloud-based video collaboration platform.
It has three pricing tiers. There was no free tier, however that has changed with Lifesize Go, a completely free browser-based version of Lifesize’s service that allows users to host an unlimited number of video calls (plus screen sharing on desktop) with up to 8 participants, no caps on meeting length and no app downloads.
Its Standard is designed for small teams and costs $16.95 per host per month, and offers unlimited meetings for up to 100 participants, along with Single Sign On (SSO) support, personal meeting support, as well as lone chat and support.
Lifesize Plus is aimed at small and midsize companies, offering more features but a minimum of 15 hosts and costs $14.95 per host per month. This allows for up to 300 participants, includes Microsoft integrations, offers real-time meeting insights, phone, and email support, as well as 1-hour cloud recording per host.
Its Enterprise costs $12.95 per month with a minimum of 50 hosts. This plan allows for live streaming of up to 1,000 viewer events, unlimited US audio calling, branding and customization, premium support, as well as unlimited video recording.
Choosing the Right Video Conferencing Tools
We can simply say that video conferencing has enabled many businesses to continue to operate during the Lockdown. Simply, by allowing employees to work from home, using conferencing solutions for meetings and updates. As well as general communications.
With a wealth of camera options on the market for video conferencing, identifying what suits your needs best and is not simply the latest or recently launched model can be challenging. Most of us are working from home currently. And working practices will evolve moving forward.
Fundamentally, all conferencing solutions will need to be adaptable. The quality, collaboration opportunities, and operational requirements of the conferencing solution must also be considered. This is in order to ensure the purchase is a cost-effective and sound investment.
1. Consider the right solution for your space
We’ve all been in meetings where the technology has let us down, and often it is because the technology is not appropriate for the meeting space or the task at hand. Perhaps the microphone is not strong enough to pick up the voices of people in the room or the camera does not fit all attendees in the field of view, or perhaps the technology is simply taking up too much space.
Whether your meeting space is a home office, a huddle room, a large meeting space, or a conference room, you should weigh up the features of different conferencing systems. An all-in-one USB solution is great for a small meeting space, for example, and would not necessarily require features such as pan-tilt zoom or a powerful zoom.
2. Optimize collaboration with certified solutions
Following a dramatic increase in people working from home and signs of remote working being more prevalent in working practices moving forward, it’s crucial that your conferencing camera is optimized to work with platforms you are using to communicate with your team.
Explore cameras that are certified by the likes of Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Google Hangouts, and Skype for Business. Not only is this endorsement from Zoom, Google, or Microsoft enough to provide confidence in the manufacturer, it also ensures that you and your team’s video conferencing experience is seamless and efficient when using these platforms.
3. Always try and think ahead
Whatever the size of your space or budget for technology to equip it, ideally you should be looking to find a solution that is ready for a range of scenarios that you may encounter. Plug and play solutions are ideal for this, providing minimal setup and ultimate flexibility.
So you can work wherever you need to and still have the same video conferencing experience. In this unprecedented year of business, forecasting may be challenging. That’s why investing in the right video conferencing solution for your needs will reap operational and communication benefits for years to come.
In general, for IT workers, in particular, telecommuting is booming. Even before the Coronavirus Pandemic, according to a report by FlexJobs, 3.9 million employees from the United States work from home at least half of the time.
This is an increase of 115 percent from 2005. That means in some cases, video conferencing represents the only visible interaction that employees will get with their employers. Especially for those in influential positions, being able to be seen can often mean the difference between being understood or not.
What do you think about the video conferencing software platforms listed above? Please share your thoughts in the comments section. You can also Contact Us if you need more support in regards to this topic or any other more of our blog posts.
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