Video conferencing has become more and more prevalent amid the spread of the coronavirus. When worldwide shutdowns began, many turned to video conferencing to continue working and to stay in touch with loved ones.
Fortunately, there are plenty of video conferencing software options, some of which require downloading software to a computer, while others are browser-based.
Continue reading to learn more about some of the most popular video conferencing tools this year.
Zoom has faced its share of privacy and security problems, as nefarious hackers have entered video conferences and wreaked havoc on participants - an act called “Zoom bombing”. The company has also taken flack for sending iOS user data to Facebook for advertising.
Zoom also claimed its calls were encrypted but backtracked. Senator Michael Bennet (D-CO) has also requested responses from Zoom CEO Eric Yuan on privacy concerns. Many are calling on the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to investigate the company too.
Zoom pricing tiers
Zoom has four pricing tiers, including a generous free plan with plenty of features for most users.
Zoom free tier
The free Zoom tier allows up to 100 participants in a meeting and carries a 40-minute limit on group meetings. There are no limits on 1-to-1 meetings, though.
Zoom Pro tier
The Pro tier runs $14.99 per month ($149.90 per year) per license and adds unlimited group meetings, social media streaming and 1 GB of cloud recording. You can buy up to nine licenses at this tier.
Zoom Business tier
The Zom Business tier runs $19.99 per month ($199.90 per year) per license, and you must purchase at least 10 licenses. On top of the Pro tier, Zoom Business adds up to 300 participants, a single sign-on, cloud recording transcripts, manages domains, and corporate branding.
Zoom Enterprise tier
Zoom’s Enterprise tier runs $19.99 per month ($199 per year) per licence, but you must purchase at least 100 licenses. In addition to the Zoom Business offering, Enterprise includes up to 500 participants (up to 1,000 with an Enterprise+ plan), unlimited cloud storage, dedicated customer support and transcription services.
- The free version hosts up to 100 participants
- Joining a meeting requires no software downloads
- You can customize your background
- The mobile version isn’t as good as the desktop version
- Questionable privacy and security
- Short time limit on free meetings
- License minimums on Business and Enterprise levels
LogMeIn’s video conferencing software, GoToMeeting, is compatible with a Mac, PC, Chromebook and Linux. You can also access it from an iPhone, iPad or Android device.
The state of remote work
Preparing for business as usual - from anywhere
Like other video conferencing software, GoToMeeting offers features like personal meeting rooms, desktop and application sharing, cloud recording and even drawing tools. Considered a leader in online video conferencing, GoToMeeting is fast, easy and reliable, though some users have experienced video and audio lag.
“GoTo meeting was well suited for screen sharing and audio conversation. The video chat issue was really a problem. If too many of us in the office would try to show our faces on screen during the same meeting, it would severely lag and we would have issues seeing each other,” reads one of the complaints.
GoToMeeting pricing tiers
There are no free tiers within GoToMeetings offerings, but they’re affordable and can easy scale to your business’ size.
GoToMeeting Professional tier
The GoToMeeting Professional tier runs $12 per organizer per month. This option offers up to 150 participants, unlimited meetings, no meeting time limits, business messaging, and a meeting lock that requires attendees to wait for you to let them in.
GoToMeeting Business tier
The GoToMeeting Business tier runs $16 per organizer per month and builds upon the Professional tier by allowing up to 250 participants and adding co-organizers, unlimited cloud recording, transcription, note taking, drawing tools, and keyboard and mouse sharing.
GoToMeeting Enterprise tier
The GoToMeeting Enterprise tier requires a custom quote. Its improvements over the Business tier include up to 3,000 participants, a dedicated customer success manager, onboarding and training and connection to your existing conference room system.
- Users report frequent video lag
- It can be challenging to integrate with other programs
- No free tier
Microsoft Teams is a hub for communication. Chat and meet with coworkers, make and receive calls, or collaborate in programs like Microsoft Word, Excel and Powerpoint. If you do-it-all video conferencing software, you can’t go wrong with Microsoft Teams, and its great reviews corroborate this.
Not only does Teams easily integrate with a long list of useful add-ons, but it’s intuitive to use and is free for Microsoft 365 users.
According to Microsoft, Teams is the fastest-growing app in its history. To date, Microsoft says over 330,000 companies use it worldwide.
Microsoft Teams pricing tiers
Microsoft Teams has a free offering, but it offers upgraded features at the three Microsoft 365 subscription tiers. You can get a one-month free trial of the Microsoft 365 Business standard service to try it out.
Microsoft Teams free tier
The Teams free tier is relatively robust with a 300-participant capacity, screen sharing and custom backgrounds. It also offers a chat system for up to 500,000 users, guest access to chat, individual file sharing in chat (up to 2 GB), channel file sharing (up to 10 GB), and more.
Microsoft 365 Business Basic
If you subscribe to the Microsoft 365 Business Basic service, it’ll set you back $5 per user per month and requires a one-year commitment. For this extra fee, Teams gains the ability to record meetings. You also get 1 TB of file sharing per organization and 10 GB per user in Teams. In the chat system, you get 1 TB of file sharing per user. This is on top of all the other non-Teams-related features that come with Microsoft 365 Basic.
Microsoft 365 Business Standard
Ths service runs $12.50 per month per user and also requires a one-year commitment, but it also has a one-month trial so you can make sure it’s what you need. Unfortunately, there are no upgrades to Teams at this level, but there are plenty of other upgrades, like Microsoft Office licenses, various business apps and more.
Office 365 E3
The big-dog of all the tiers is Office 365 E3, which boosts Teams by offering online events with up to a 10,000-person capacity and an optional phone system. It also offers unlimited file attachments in chat. This is on top of the full array of Microsoft goodies 365 E3 offers. All this rings in at $20 per user per month.
Microsoft Teams pros
- Free for Microsoft 365 users
- Plenty of useful add-ons
- It’s quick and easy to use
- Huge capacity in free tier
- Included with other Microsoft applications
Microsoft Teams cons
- Users say notifications could be made more prominent
Unlike other video conferencing software, Google Meet works directly in your browser. When integrated with G Suite, Google Meet is remarkably easy to use for collaborating on documents stored within Google Docs.
Google Meet is free, but there’s a paid plan available that lifts the 60-minute meeting time limit. Opt for G Suite Essentials and get longer meetings, better support and added Google Drive storage.
Google Meet pricing tiers
Google Meet is always free for basic meetings, but it has two optional packages that combine with Google Workspace.
Google Meet free tier
The Google Meet free tier has a lot to offer, including a one-hour time limit on meetings, up to 100 participants, an unlimited number of meeting, a native mobile app and browser accessibility, screen sharing, closed captioning, and more.
Google Workspace Essentials
If you subscribe to Google Workspace Essentials for $8 per month per user, you get a few Google Meet upgrades. These include up to 300-hour-long meetings, up to 150 participants, dial-in participation, 24/7 customer support and meeting recording to Google Drive.
Google Workspace Enterprise
Bumping up to Workspace Enterprise increases the participants to 250 and allows you to stream to 100,000 users. It also boasts intelligent noise cancellation and priority customer support.
Google Meet pros
- Multiple ways to connect to a call
- Generous free tier
- Paid tiers come with useful GSuite features
- Automatically integrated into Gmail and Google Calendar
- Easy to use
Google Meet cons
- Users report that it lacks features
Multiple industries, ranging from education to sports and entertainment, use Webex. Meredith Corporation calls it “a one stop shop for meetings” and is the “single tool to handle all meetings.”
Pitched by Cisco as “hassle-free video conferencing,” Webex offers a slew of sought-after features. Not only does it integrate with several other programs, but it also offers easy screen sharing, the ability to record and transcribe meeting.
What’s most enticing about Webex is its AI-powered meeting assistant, which can take notes, create meeting highlights and even create post-meeting recap emails.
Cisco Webex pricing tiers
Cisco Webex has the most tiers on our list of the most popular videoconferencing software at five. This includes one free tier.
Cisco Webex free tier
The free tier allows only one host and up to 100 participants, and you can host up to a 50-minute-long meeting. It also offers screen sharing, the ability to record a meeting to your computer, breakout sessions and virtual backgrounds.
Cisco Webex Starter tier
The Starter tier runs $13.50 per host per month and allows up to nine hosts and up to 24-hour-long meetings. It also packages 5 GB of cloud recording, SP4 recording, transcription, file transfering, and call or chat support.
Cisco Webex Plus tier
The Plus tier will set you back $17.95 per host per month. It allows up to 50 hosts. Otherwise, it’s identical to the Starter tier.
Cisco Webex Business tier
At the business tier, you’re paying out $26.95 per host per month. This allows 5-500 hosts, expands the number of participants to 200 and allows up to 10 GB of cloud recording storage.
Cisco Webex Enterprise tier
The Enterprise tier requires custom quoting from Cisco. It expands upon the Plus tier with an unlimited number of hosts, up to 100,000 participants and unlimited cloud recording storage. It also gets you a dedicated customer service representative.
Cisco Webex Meetings pros:
- A useful AI assistant creates meeting highlights
- Interactive whiteboard
- Useful free tier
- Paid tiers include tons of hosts
Cisco Webex Meetings cons:
- Users report poor sound quality
- Can be difficult to use
BlueJeans Meetings calls itself the leader in cloud video conferencing. It allows users to collaborate via meetings, rooms or interactive events. You can also use BlueJeans Gateway for Microsoft Teams to connect your existing conference rooms to Microsoft Teams video conferencing.
You can try it free, but once that free trial runs out, you’ll have to invest in a premium plan. Fortunately, at $9.99/month, BlueJeans Meetings isn’t all that expensive.
BlueJeans Meetings pricing tiers
BlueJeans Meetings has no free option, only three paid levels.
BlueJeans Meetings Standard tier
The Standard tier runs $12.49 per host per month. It allows up to 50 participants, unlimited 1-on-1 and group meetings, unlimited meeting lengths, up to 5 hours of meeting recordings per host, meeting recaps, Dolby Voice audio, an interactive meeting dashboard, MP4 meeting recording, screen sharing, remote desktop control, a whiteboard, browser joining, 24/7 support and more.
BlueJeans Meetings Pro tier
The Pro tier costs $17.49 per user per month. It builds upon the Standard tier by adding up to 75 participants, 25 hours of recording per host, interactive dashboards, real-time alerts, ROI analysis, Slack, Teams, Okta, Splunk and Gong integration, and more.
BlueJeans Enterprise tier
The Enterprise tier requires a chat with BlueJeans’ sales team to get a quote. In addition to the Pro tier, the Enterprise tier adds up to 100 participants, unlimited meeting recordings, brand customization, dedicated technical, support and onboarding team, and more.
BlueJeans Meetings pros:
- It offers lots of tools for collaboration
- The software is easy to install and intuitive to use
BlueJeans Meetings cons:
- There’s no free tier
- Users say the video quality could be improved
- Enterprise tier has a small participant capacity
Choosing the Best Videoconferencing Software
If you need great videoconferencing software, there’s no shortage of options. To determine which best suits your needs, we suggest giving more than one platform a try. Test how well it integrates with the tools you use and whether it has all the features you need.
In the end, you’ll find that while there are several videoconferencing platforms available, choosing the best will come down to personal preference and your daily videoconferencing needs.
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