A Perfect Guide to Choosing the Best Video Conferencing platform
From Shanghai to Tokyo to New York City, the Coronavirus has greatly impacted many (if not all) megacities around the world. The pandemic has caused Governments to enforce strict social distancing rules with some countries on nation-wide lockdowns. Video conferencing tools are becoming increasingly popular and used as a platform for families to communicate, students to learn, and businesses to continue thriving.
Online video conferencing tools are definitely nothing new and have been around for quite some time. Many of these video conferencing tools can be accessed from our everyday electronic devices such as laptops and cell phones. However, before subscribing to a specific platform, it is important to consider which of these are most suitable to you and your company’s needs.
In no particular order, we present to you some of the best video conferencing platforms in the market emphasizing their pros and cons.
Google Meet: Premium Video Conferencing Platform
Google Meet ( formerly Hangouts Meet) is one of Google’s premium video conferencing platforms. It is available online and downloadable on the App Store and Google Play (for free) meaning this platform can be accessed on both Apple and Android devices. Google Meet uses the same protection methods as Google and video calls are encrypted for extra safety. Google Meet is an integrative part of the G Suite which can allow for easier access for collaborative documents during work calls. In addition, Google Meet runs on the browser and doesn’t need third-party applications in order to enjoy its benefits. It also offers live captioning during meetings which can be useful for meetings with clients in foreign countries.
Free Video conferencing platform for individuals
Starting in early May, 2020, anyone with a Gmail account can get free access to Google Meet. The free version allows users to invite up to 100 participants and meet for up to 60 minutes (per meeting).
For business use, G Suite Essentials will fit for you. Through September 30th, G Suite Essentials is free for businesses and allows users to invite up to 250 participants, meet for up to 300 hours per meeting and add view-only live streaming to an event for up to 100,000 participants.
Free G Suite Essentials Account >>> APPLY NOW
What is G Suite Essentials?
G Suite Essentials provides full-stack collaborative solutions including Google Meet, Docs, Sheets, and Slides for teams to sync their work and knowledge across offices and time zones. You can connect, manage and collaborate with the entire team in a few clicks.
Advantages: Google Meet is free of charge, available to invite up to 100 participants, integrative with G Suite features, accessible on internet browser, no installation required.
Disadvantages: Free version of Google Meet only allows users to invite up to 100 participants and meet for up to 60 minutes (per meeting). Free version of G Suite Essentials will end after September, 2020 and the price point of $10 to $20 USD (per active user) may not be affordable for all.
Skype Meet Now: Fully Supported by Microsoft
Skype Meet Now is Microsoft’s video conferencing platform. It can be accessed within your web browser, mobile app (in both Apple and Android devices), and does not need a third party application to run the program. In addition to phone, desktop, tablet, and the web, it is also available on Alexa and Xbox which makes it a feasible platform for individuals or all ages.
Skype Meet Now allows for quick and easy chats which are suitable for conference calls, work interviews, and webinars. However, they also have a group chat function which allows customizing a group before the call, perfect for team and divisional meetings. The best part to Skype Meet Now would no doubt be its all-inclusive and free of charge plan. Users are allowed to invite a conference call of up to 50 participants for 4 hours maximum. Skype Meet Now will also automatically record the call and store it in the user’s account for 30 days. Lastly, participants can also blur their background, allowing those who want a sense of privacy to do so.
The major limitations to Skype Meet Now are the video lags and frequent crashes users are experiencing. However, these are small bugs which can be easily fixed by developers.
Aside from video conferencing calls, Skype also offers many communication tools to reach those who aren’t on Skype. For example, they offer landline and mobiles worldwide with low rates using Skype Credit. Skype numbers are also available in 26 different countries, allowing users to answer calls on cell phone, tablet, or computer. Unlike other platforms, Skype offers text messaging services in conjunction with the video calling service. Like Google Meet and G Suite, Skype Meet Now also has integrations with the Office 365 Suite which allows for access to Microsoft’s applications like Word, Excel, and Powerpoint.
Advantages: All inclusive free of charge plan, maximum 4 hours of call time (per call), call recording stored for 30 days, and option to blur backgrounds
Disadvantages: Frequent video lags and crashes
Zoom: The Mainstream Platform
You have probably used or heard of “Zoom” since it has become increasingly popular and almost a monopoly in the realm of video conferencing platforms. Zoom offers HD video and audio calls with built in collaboration tools where participants can share screen and co-annotate each other’s work. In addition to the real time chat space, it also has features for music sharing, voting polls, and hand raising functions which makes it much more engaging and allows for smoother transitions in large meetings. According to Zoom, users who switch to using its application reportedly saw a 95% increase in performance, 93% increase in engagement, and an 85% increase in video usage.
Currently, Zoom’s basic plan is free of charge and allows video calls for up to 100 participants for a maximum of 40 minutes. However, since they allow an unlimited number of meetings, tech-savvy users can always end and start a new call after 40 minutes. In addition to the amazing features above, they also have features for waiting rooms (used as a form of “reception” before the actual meeting) and breakout rooms (allowing participants to converse in a more close knit community). Moreover, unlike Google Meet and other platforms, it allows you to view every participant’s profile icon or camera (if available). Lastly, participants can also add virtual backgrounds (e.g. classroom and work settings) to mimic a more “real-life” experience.
However, one of Zoom’s major disadvantages is that it cannot run on an internet browser and users must download its application either on their phone or desktop. Also, the price points for more extensive plans may not be affordable for all. The Pro plan, great for small teams, is priced at $14.99 USD (per user per month) and allows calls with 100 participants for a maximum of 24 hours. The Business plan, great for small businesses, is priced at $19.99 (per user per month) and includes all Pro features with 200 added participants per call (300 participants maximum in total). The Enterprise Plan allows up to 100 users for $1,999 per month ($19.99 per user per month) and includes all of Business features in addition to unlimited Cloud storage.
Recently, there have also been numerous accounts of security issues where individuals can freely join other meetings. Developers of Zoom have been stricting these issues and have implemented a password system to prevent these incidents.
Advantages: Free plan available, engaging functions, waiting/breakout rooms feature
Disadvantages: Paid plans are expensive, security issues need to be more restricted, need to download the application
Voov/Tencent Meeting: Mainland China’s Video Conferencing Tool
Tencent Meeting is a video conferencing platform enabling individuals to join and host meetings anywhere. Its services are accessible in Mainland China. It also has an international version, Voov, which is owned by Tencent as well. Voov was launched in March and is available in more than 100 countries. Users can join video calls on cell phones, desktops, tablets and web browsers. It also has integrated a calendar so that users can receive meeting reminders and review their schedule for the day.
Like Zoom, Voov also offers noise cancellation, screen sharing, and virtual background options. Other features such as beauty filters, background blur, and AI-based speech enhancement are incorporated into the app. As for security, it has secure sockets layer encryption as well as AES 128/256-bit encryption. Hosts can also send invitations and manage participants. The free edition of Voov allows unlimited one to one meetings and video calls with up to 25 attendees for a maximum of 45 minutes. With Zoom’s basic free plan of 100 participants for a maximum of 40 minutes, it might be more feasible if you plan to hold a larger meeting with more participants. However, Tencent is currently offering the Pro edition, which includes up to 100 participants for an unlimited number of hours, for free until the pandemic ends. The Pro edition also includes all of the free edition’s benefits in addition to co-hosting and watermark for screen sharing purposes. Voov also has an Enterprise edition which allows calls with up to 300 participants.
Advantages: Tencent Meeting is accessible in Mainland China, Voov’s pro edition is currently free allowing up to 100 participants for an unlimited amount of time
Disadvantages: Relatively new application, new users may not be familiar with it
|Skype Meet Now
|Voov/ Tencent Meeting
|Free Edition: Free
G Suite Basic & G Suite Education: $6/month/license
G Suite Business: $12/month/license
G Suite Enterprise : $25/month/license
|BASIC: Personal Meeting: Free
PRO: Great for Small Teams: $149.90 /year/license
BUSINESS: Small & Med Businesses: $199.80 /year/license
ENTERPRISE: Large Enterprise-Ready: $199.90 /year/license
|Free Edition: Free
PRO: Free (Until Pandemic ends)
Contact sales to negotiate price based
|Max number of participants
|Free Edition: 100 (60-minute maximum group meetings)
G Suite Basic & G Suite Education: 100
G Suite Business: 150
G Suite Enterprise: 250
view-only live streaming: 100,000 participants
(40-minute maximum group meetings)
|Free Edition: 25 (45-minute maximum group meetings)
PRO: Up to 100 attendees allowed
Enterprise: Over 300
All in all, the four video conferencing platforms are all exceptional choices. It is important to recognize the needs of the meetings you plan to host and select the one most suitable for you. Still don’t know which video conferencing platform suits your business? Talk to Us!