During this pandemic, video conferencing platforms have made it possible for everyone to keep face-to-face interactions alive and businesses running.
Anyone who’s working remotely can tap into all the great benefits of these video conferencing providers. There are several options available out there, and each comes packed with great features.
For the uninitiated, it can be overwhelming to choose which one. If you’re shopping for one, here’s a quick rundown of the best video conferencing platforms available to help you make the right purchase.
Video conferencing platforms at a glance
$19.99per host per month
(50 participants) $13.50/host/month
(100 Participants) $17.95/host/month
(200 participants, minimum of 5 licenses) $26.95/host/month
(3 participants/ 10 webinar attendees
(10 participants) $2.50/host/month
(25 participants) $5/host/month
(50 participants) $7.50/host/month
(100 participants) $10/host/month
Microsoft Teams – Works seamlessly with Microsoft Office applications
Microsoft Teams is the collaborative workspace in Office 365. It provides video conferencing, chat, audio calls, and document sharing to foster worker productivity and collaboration. It also integrates Microsoft Office applications like Outlook, Word, and Excel.
Microsoft Teams Features
- Unlimited free chat messages and search capabilities
- Free built-in meetings and audio/video calls for individuals and groups of up to 300 people
- 10GB team file storage (or 2GB personal file storage per user)
- Real-time collaboration with Microsoft Office apps
- Unlimited app integrations with over 250 business apps (Trello, Evernote, Adobe, etc.)
- Communication and collaboration with anyone in or out of your organization
Microsoft Teams Pros:
It works seamlessly with other installed Microsoft products on your device, which means you can integrate Word or Excel into your workflow fairly easily.
Microsoft Teams is also easy to use for online meetings, presentations, communications, and collaborations. Even the free basic account comes loaded with features and can accommodate many users.
More importantly, free accounts don’t expire. To start using the free version of Microsoft Teams, you only need a Microsoft ID or login (like your Outlook email details). You can already use all the important primary features of Teams like video meetings or audio calls.
Microsoft Teams Cons
It can get complicated when you need to find a specific conversation, tab, or thread in a specific channel. The same can be said when creating a new Team within a Team.
It can be inconvenient to use especially if you don’t use Microsoft products.
Also, full security and support are missing in the free version. Contacting customer service or technical support can also be challenging and slow.
Microsoft Teams Pricing
You can use Microsoft Teams for free with a basic free account. But if you wish to avail of their paid plans, here’s how much they cost:
Google Meet – For personal or small business use
Google Meet, previously known as Google Hangouts, is Google’s free video conferencing, voice call, and group messaging service. You need a Google account to start a video conference or video call. But anyone invited to join the call with the meeting link can enter the meeting room.
Google Meet Features:
- Up to 60 minutes per meeting
- Unlimited number of meetings
- Can join from browser and invite external participants
- Adjustable layouts
- Native mobile apps
- Share screen and presentations
Google Meet Pros
It’s very easy to use and start a video meeting on Google Meet. You only need a Google account to hold a meeting with a maximum of 100 participants for a duration of 1 hour.
There’s no limit to the number of Google Meets that you can have.
You can log in from a web browser or download the app. It works on any device and with other G Suite products.
Users are guaranteed protection and privacy with its data encryption, security meeting controls, security keys, and 2-step verification.
There’s a live captioning option that you can turn on and off with the help of Google’s speech recognition technology. This is a very helpful feature for people with hearing disabilities or those who need to keep the volume at a low level.
It’s a good app for its main function, which is to have voice and video calls with small teams and clients in small to large businesses. Although it lacks in the features department, it’s easy to set up and use. There’s also good technical support that you can easily reach.
Google Meet Cons
It’s a good video conferencing app, especially for a free one. But if you want other tools to level up your user experience, it will cost you.
You cannot change your background when you’re on a video call or in an online meeting.
If there are more attendees, it’s prone to sound issues, so a noise cancellation feature will be most welcomed.
Google Meet Pricing
Like Microsoft Teams, you can do a lot with the basic free plan of Google Meet. If you or your business would like to upgrade, the pricing plans are as follow:
Zoom Meetings – Simple and user friendly
This cloud-based video conferencing app lets you hold video and audio conferences and webinars. With Zoom, you can also have live chats and screen sharing for easier communication and collaboration with other members of your team, class, or group.
There’s no need to create a Zoom account if you need to attend a Zoom meeting. It’s also compatible with most operating systems and accessible on most devices.
Zoom Meetings Features
- Free account
- Free unlimited video meetings (one to one)
- 40-minute limit for more than 3 users
- As many as 100 users in one meeting
- Accessible from desktop and mobile apps and web browser
- Meeting recordings, screen sharing, annotations
Zoom Meetings Pros
No account registration is needed to join a Zoom meeting. However, you need one if you will be scheduling, hosting, or managing your own Zoom calls and meetings. But account registration is quick and easy.
The free version of Zoom offers good quality video calls. It’s easy to learn and navigate regardless of the operating system or device you’re using. Even if it’s your first time to use Zoom, it’s uncomplicated and very user friendly.
You can also easily share your screen and make annotations, which is quite useful for distance learning.
Zoom Meetings Cons
Sometimes, not all virtual backgrounds display very clearly. You also need a strong and stable internet connection to work with Zoom Meetings without delays.
If you want an optimized experience, you need to download and install the app.
The basic version can host up to 100 people at a time. It can be a problem if you want to host more people but cannot afford the paid versions.
There have also been concerns with Zoom’s security and privacy because of several ‘zoom bombing’ incidents.
Zoom Meetings Pricing
If the free account is no longer enough for your personal or business needs, check out Zoom’s subscription plans that are tailor-made for small teams to large enterprises.
Skype – video conferencing pioneer
Skype is a video conferencing software that’s been around since 2003. It’s easy to use and free to download, and you can use it on your computer or mobile device.
It’s great for online calls, both video and audio, whether for personal or business use. And if you’re willing to shell out money every month, you can even get extra features that will allow you to call landlines or send SMS to mobile phones.
- Audio and HD video calls with up to 50 people
- Meet Now
- Chat messaging
- Group screen sharing
- Live subtitles and call recording
- Conversations with end to end encryption
- Free Skype to Skype
- Affordable calling rates with Skype Credits or Skype Subscriptions
- Skype web on Google Chrome and Microsoft Edge browsers
It’s great to use for work or even for chats with family and friends because of its full screen video. And you can talk to anyone just by using a unique and secure chat invitation or link.
It’s loaded with useful features and functionalities that anyone will love, whether you’re one person or a whole business.
Videos and call quality are greatly affected by the strength of your internet connection. When you have a poor connection, images become blurred and voices lag on calls.
Screen sharing also takes up a lot of bandwidth, so the screen is prone to freezing or getting stuck.
Also, the emoticons need a major update!
Skype is free to use and offers features that work for individual or business use. But there’s an option to get a subscription to Skype Credits for calls to landlines and mobile phones, as well as for sending SMS. There’s a one-time payment (pay as you go) or a subscription (monthly billing).
- Free Skype to Skype
- Skype Credits available in $5, $10, or $25
- Skype Subscriptions from $3 to $14 per month
Webex Meetings – Business oriented and highly secure
Webex Meetings by Cisco is a video conferencing and meeting platform that comes packed with features. Wherever you may be in the world, you can conduct face to face meetings instantly with customers, colleagues, and partners using an IP network.
Webex Meetings Features
- HD video and audio conferencing
- Screen sharing
- Call scheduling
- Calendar app integration
- File sharing
- Polls and Q&A sessions
- Meeting recordings and transcription
- Cross-device compatibility
- Top notch security
The free Webex personal account is available for users in the Philippines. This can support meetings with 100 participants with a duration of 50 minutes.
Webex Meetings Pros
It’s a great option for businesses that rely on a powerful and stable video conferencing platform. It has useful and innovative features, as well as excellent data and meeting security.
Setting up a meeting or joining one is easy, whether it’s a video or audio meeting. The annotation, collaboration, and file sharing tools also make working together online easier, no matter where anyone is located.
It’s solid and reliable and takes security and data privacy very seriously.
Webex Meetings Cons
This is one of the most expensive options available, which can be a problem for small to medium size businesses.
Compared to other video conferencing platforms in the list, Webex Meetings can be a bit complicated to navigate. New users may be confused with functionality, so it can work on being more user friendly.
Signing up can also be a tedious process compared to others where you just click on the meeting link to join.
There are more features available, which means a steeper learning curve for users.
Webex Meetings Pricing
Here’s a look at plans available for Webex Meetings, starting at $13.50 per month per user.
|Webex Meetings Free||30-day free trial of Webex Meetings
|Webex Meetings Starter||$13.50 per host/month
Baseline plan for small teams and individuals
|Webex Meetings Plus||$17.95 per host/month
Best value for mid-sized teams
|Webex Meetings Business||$26.95 per host/month
Bigger meetings, more storage, and premium support for large teams
Zoho Meeting – affordable and gets the job done
Zoho Meeting is a video conferencing and webinar software that’s an affordable alternative. The free edition comes with useful basic features. The paid plans also have features that most businesses need, like screen sharing and scheduling meetings, which are easy to learn and use.
Zoho Meeting Features
- Free account – 3 users for meeting and 10 for webinar
- Screen sharing, RSVP scheduling, and meeting recording
- Moderator controls and lock meeting
- Embeddable meeting link widget
- Calendar integration
- Q&A, polls, and analytics
Zoho Meeting Pros
You can use Zoho Meeting right away because there are no downloads or installations required. Since it’s web-based, it won’t take up a lot of space in your computer or mobile device.
It does not use any third-party apps. It values users’ privacy by not allowing hosts or admins to monitor participants’ screens.
You can try out the platform for free for 14 days.
When it comes to price and user friendliness, Zoho Meeting is a winner. There’s no need to contact technical support to figure out how it works. There are helpful articles that will help you troubleshoot and teach you how to navigate the platform.
Zoho Meeting Cons
The free version is okay for personal use if you will only be using it to talk to one or two people. But for a business, the number of allowed users is not enough, and the features are very limited.
If you want the premium features, you must avail of the paid plans which can be costly when you choose to be billed monthly.
Check out Zoho Meeting’s available plans that can host from 10 to 100 participants.
The video conferencing platform marketplace is very competitive, and there are lots of options available to suit the different needs of users.
Before you make that decision to purchase, make sure that you consider video and call quality. If you will be meeting online on a daily basis, you need a powerful video conferencing tool that will work flawlessly and clearly, as if everyone is there in one room. This will ensure work will flow smoothly no matter where you are located.
It will be another advantage if the platform is easy to learn and navigate so no time will be wasted on training or contacting customer/technical support.
Consider how many people will be using the platform. Choose one that has a bigger capacity. Video conferencing platforms can usually accommodate 100 people to as much as 1,000 people, depending on the subscription or plan.
Check the available conferencing features, both basic and unique, that will meet your personal or business requirements.
In addition, make sure that there’s an extra layer of protection and security. It will be good to have end-to-end encryption and user authentication.
More importantly, get one that is right for your budget and offers competitive pricing. These video conferencing platforms are not exactly cheap, so get the one that offers the most bang for your buck!