A global pandemic has forced us to stay behind doors. On one end, organizations around the world are scampering to keep business running. On the other end, employees are trying their best to adjust to a new working style.
You might have already felt the discomfort the change has brought in.
One of the areas which had taken the biggest hit is human interaction. Not only is talking in person crucial to business, but it also constitutes an integral part of social well being.
The meeting and conference rooms which people queued up and booked in advance on weekdays now remain empty. The restaurants and pubs which required reservations on weekends now remain vacant.
Whether you like it or not, you now need to adapt by making changes. One such change is resorting to online conferencing tools to conduct meetings where you can at least look at the person virtually.
A Google search will list out many paid and free tools to video chat with people one to one and as a group. Each one mentions a list of features and proclaims themselves as the best, don’t they? But you need more than self claims before you can decide which one works best for you.
If you’re confused about which tool to pick, this article provides the list of the top web conferencing tools along with the pros and cons of each.
Based on your needs, you can make an informed choice.
List of 7 online web conferencing tools:
Goto meeting does the basics of teleconferencing right to the dot. The calls maintain a high level of video quality. The audio remains clear and crisp through most of the calls.
It makes recording calls a breeze. You also have a good set of screen sharing features to explain a presentation to a client or walk through your code with team members.
The meeting attendees do not need to download a separate app or software to take part in the meeting. You can attend calls and use screen sharing from the Chrome browser itself.
You might be working in a tight security environment, where installing an app requires additional approvals or isn’t permitted at all. Goto meeting solves the problem for you.
The complexity of the user interface can seem hard to decipher for some users. If you’re not tech-savvy, you might face a learning curve to understand how the whole software works. Specific options like the mute button can be confusing to users.
It also requires a few additional clicks to get a meeting started. Though the tool provides a chat feature, it has some catching up to do to match other real-life messaging tools.
Goto Meeting provides different pricing models. The base model starts at 12$/month when paid annually. If you intend to pay month on month, you will have to shell out an extra 2$ at 14$/month. You can have up to 150 participants on the call with this model. A higher-priced model will allow more participants though.
If you want to try the tool out, Goto meeting allows a 14-day trial without needing a credit card. You can only have 50 attendees during the trial, but that should suffice to help you decide if this is the software for you or not.
Zoom has made a name for itself in the market and is among the popular teleconferencing tools. The video and screen sharing functions at the highest level of quality.
The chances of buffering and lag are unlikely. The sound output during the calls also remains clear and robust. Even when the number of participants in a conference meeting increases, the video and sound do not degrade, unlike some other software.
Zoom provides a feature called rooms, where specific people can join and brainstorm. While some users laud the feature, many others find it confusing and challenging to use.
Besides, Zoom requires a standalone software to run. It will run on on the web browser alone. People who haven’t heard about Zoom end up confused on how to join the meeting.
The admin tasks required with handling multiple users is not as straightforward as it could be. At times, the update patches lead to minor glitches before they are quickly fixed.
One of the selling points for Zoom was that it offered free 1-1 meetings. Many bloggers across the world use Zoom for interviews and discussions.
The free tier also works for conference meetings, but with a time limit of 40 minutes. Though that is a great feature to provide at no cost, business owners feel an intrusion when the call needs to prolong beyond the planned timeline.
The premium models start at 14$/month, which allows up to 100 participants on a conference call without any time limits.
BlueJeans is another well known conferencing tool used by many small and medium scale businesses. The tool does a great job at delivering quality video. The meeting screen brings the speakers to the view, letting everyone know who is talking.
The ease of set up makes it a good fit for the non-technology friendly folks. It also offers a seamless integration with most well-used calendar tools.
The tool prioritizes bandwidth for low connection speeds to deliver the highest possible quality. Their support team is known to be helpful and prompt.
The quality of sound does not seem in par with their fantastic video output. While such a statement is also a testament to how sublime their video quality is, customers have faced sound quality drops on occasions.
The tool needs to do a better job at filtering background noise. The listeners hear all the background sounds from the speaker’s microphone.
The software is comparatively hard on resources, which should only be a reason for worry if you’re using an old laptop. The recording feature isn’t very smooth. People sometimes face a call disconnection bug when they try to save the discussion for future use.
BlueJeans is a premium software but offers a free 7 day trial. The pricing model starts at 9.99$/month, making it a tad bit cheaper than the other tools.
But the base model only allows 50 participants on the call. If you need more than 75 participants on a call, you will have to talk to their sales team for a quote.
Ring Central offers teleconferencing that functions without any flaws across different devices and laptops. It also allows you to dial in from a phone line to attend a meeting, which helps you stay connected even when you’re on the move.
It offers high video quality and plenty of instant messaging features. Ring Central makes it easy to collaborate with your team members located miles away. The tool provides a call recording feature which works as expected. If you set up repetitive calls often, Ring Central eases the process of setting up recurring meetings with only a few clicks.
The user interface is currently clunky and leaves more to desire. A new user on Ring Central might find it challenging to understand how to navigate through the tool. Finding support for your queries and questions can take quite some effort.
The UI can confuse users by allowing multiple versions of the meeting to run at the same time.
Ring Central allows free meetings up to 100 participants with a cap of 40 minutes. If you are low on budget for a teleconference, that can be an attractive prospect.
If you are looking to coordinate with your team located all around the globe without any cost, this tool can help you remain productive while working from home. The free version allows unlimited 1-1 meetings without any time limit.
The premium model starts at 14.99 $/month per user, making it an expensive paid version for small businesses. The premium model allows the same 100 number of participants but permit the meetings to go on beyond the 40-minute mark.
Besides, the paid model allows a call me feature(1000 calling minutes) where the users can receive a phone call to join the meeting.
Click meeting stands out for its user-friendly interface. The tool is easy to understand even for a new user. All it takes is a few clicks to set up or join a meeting, making it an excellent fit for quick meetings. Whether that was the reason behind their name is uncertain, but they sure have placed a lot of focus on the ease of use.
You do not need to download any software because it works on the browser across all devices. The default settings allow you to start right off the bat. If required, you have an extensive amount of control to configure things the way you like. The tool also allows you to record the meeting onto the cloud.
They also have a friendly and knowledgable support team to help you resolve any problems you face.
Android users can face a lag on certain occasions. Also, the tool has some glitches with screen sharing and the sound quality. That said, the tool has come a long way since then because they have migrated from the much complained Flash to HTML5.
The tool offers an unusual pricing model. At the free version, it allows 25 participants with one presenter and a file storage capacity of 500 MB.
The tool places restrictions over the number of audio and video feeds. The premium models start from 25$/month, placing in on the expensive side compared to the other tools. The premium model allows one extra presenter and additional storage. You can use the other payment models for requirements beyond those limits.
Microsoft teams offers a lot of customizable features. Since this is a tool from Microsoft, they provide fantastic integration with their other tools, especially MS office. The quality of the video and sound will rarely be a reason to complain.
The tool helps you know who is online, which makes it add value beyond just conference meetings. You can also create groups to facilitate internal discussions and brainstorm ideas. It offers a painless mobile functionality too.
The user interface is not as intuitive as it could be. The notifications prompted by the chat aren’t obvious. You will have a hard time tracking where the conversation is coming from when you are a part of multiple groups or calls.
The tool is a little RAM hungry, which can be a challenge if you use an old computer. While the functioning of the tool is exquisite on a Microsoft based system, it runs into occasional cross-platform issues on other environments.
The tool has a different pricing depending on the country you reside in. The tool provides a free version provided you have a Microsoft account to sign in. The free model allows up to 300 users but does not offer the integration with Office 365 and their tools which come with the bundle.
The premium model involves a cost for each user every month, making it expensive for small businesses. But, since the price per user isn’t quite high, the total may not burn a large hole in your pocket if your team is small.
Webex is one of the most widely known tool for teleconferencing. The tool allows users to join via the app or a web browser. It offers clear audio and video quality across a wide range of platforms and devices.
The tool provides an easy to record feature allowing you to record the meeting on the cloud or your local computer. You can also have the software call you on your phone to join the meeting.
Webex has been a market player for a long time and has become a standard tool in the large corporates.
Some of the features of the tool can fluctuate if the user does not have a stable internet connection. Screen sharing/video lag is a familiar issue users face when the internet connectivity isn’t optimal. The tool, though integrates well with the calendar tools, displays incorrect meeting time on a few timezones.
The tool also takes some time to connect to any meeting. Though you will not need a minute to join, be prepared to wait for a few seconds if you’re already running late.
Webex has changed its pricing model recently. It offers a free version which allows 100 participants along with screen sharing and a personal room.
For usage beyond those number of participants, you will have to contact their sales team for a quote. The pricing models are no longer mentioned on their website.
All the above tools are reliable and well known. You must pick the right one for you based on your requirements.
Do not write off some of the popular tools as expensive without checking the pricing. Due to the increased number of players in the market, the older tools have adjusted their cost to make it more affordable for small and medium level businesses.
Since you will end up working from home for at least a few weeks now, make the most of the technology. Do not lose the personal touch and the relationships you have built over the years.