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The need for virtual collaboration is more important than ever during the COVID-19 crisis, and knowing the best way to share information and brainstorm when your team is working remotely is essential.
Let’s face it — a phone call doesn’t always do it these days. Being able to share screens, documents, and see people’s faces on video conferences is much more efficient and cheaper than traveling across the country. This can also be helpful for interacting with clients and even potential customers.
We compare the best video conferencing software and discuss why some of the most recognizable companies may not be your best choice when it comes to online meeting services.
- Is Your Video Conference Secure?
- Best Video Conferencing Software
- What Are My Other Options?
- See A Video Conference In Action (Video)
- Stay On Task With A Meeting Agenda
- Video Conference Vs Webinar
You probably heard the news about Zoom’s surge in business from coronavirus Stay At Home orders and an increase in teleworking. You may have also heard that they got into the limelight for a lack of what’s called end-to-end encryption.
What Is End-To-End Encryption And Why Is It Important?
End-to-end encryption (E2EE) is designed to prevent prying eyes from accessing data while in transit. The data is encrypted before being sent across the internet, and only the recipient should be able to decrypt it. You’ll want to make sure that the service you go with supports an encryption level that you are comfortable with.
We chose our top winners based on reliability, features, ease of use, security, pricing and other factors.
Our pick for the best online meeting service for large teams is Adobe Connect. It has all the features you are likely seeking for online meetings, and it comes at a competitive price. We love the endless customization options, including ways to record and measure engagement during and after the meeting.
It is not the easiest service to set up initially, but this powerhouse software isn’t designed as a “one size fits all” solution. There are many tutorials and support services out there to help new users get started with Adobe Connect.
On the flip-side, first-time participants won’t need any training since the interface is very user-friendly for attendees.
Smaller teams can use this product too, but for the most part, smaller teams have smaller budgets, so we suggest taking a look at our pick for small teams (10 or fewer people).
Does Adobe Connect Support End-To-End Encryption?
Our web developer and security expert chimes in:
Adobe Connect can be end-to-end encrypted, but not always since it is a hosted solution, and its security is only as good as the security of the hosting provider.
I would not want to be responsible for setting it up if complete security was required. I would want a Linux Admin to do that.
Adobe also offers a subscription version on their Amazon Web Services (AWS) servers that is managed/maintained by them. This is end-to-end encrypted as long as everyone is using the app. If someone is connecting through a Flash Player, the encryption may be compromised. – Dane M., Safe Smart Living
Adobe Connect has three different video offerings, and they are all available with a free trial: Meetings, Webinars and Learning. Meetings are the primary product we have reviewed and compared in this article, but we included pricing for all, in case you are interested.
Adobe Connect Meetings
Adobe Connect Meetings works well for online, digital meetings. Pricing starts at $50/month.
Adobe Connect Webinars
Adobe Connect Webinars are made for marketers to share their information, services, etc. Pricing starts at $130/month.
- 100 Webinar Participants: $130/month
- 500 Webinar Participants: $470/month
- 1,000 Webinar Participants: $580/month
- +1,000 Webinar Participants: Contact Adobe
Adobe Connect Learning
Adobe Connect Learning is great for online classes. Also, Adobe Connect works well on mobile platforms.
- 200 Virtual Classroom Participants: $370/month
- +200 Virtual Classroom Participants: Contact Adobe
- View all options
Google Hangouts is our pick for best video conferencing software for small teams. It is a completely free service. The web video version is called Google Hangouts and is what our team uses at We Rock Your Web.
The clean, organized look of Google Hangouts paired with its free and simple user interface are just a few of the pros.
The biggest issue is that there is a maximum number of 10 devices or users allowed at a time for a meeting. Since Google owns it and this is a “free” product, the cost is actually your privacy. So proceed with caution when sharing sensitive conversations or data using this service.
Google Hangouts is compatible across many devices and participants can collaborate in other Google products like Google Docs.
Our team uses Google Hangouts regularly for our video conferencing needs. Here is one of our team member’s own experience:
Google Hangouts is a solid video conferencing service that has been around forever. It’s free, and the interface hasn’t changed much. The screen sharing feature works great and lets you select which monitor or application window you wish to share. It functions smoothly in both desktop and app versions most of the time. But, sometimes, it can be a serious RAM hog. I really miss the snap-style backgrounds and effects they used to offer! – Alex S., Safe Smart Living
GoToMeeting from LogMeIn is great for smaller-scale offices that are looking for an easy to use online meeting platform. Starting a meeting takes only one click. It’s also one of the easiest platforms to use from your smartphone.
GoToMeeting has many great features including screen sharing, keyboard/mouse control, VoIP and drawing tools.
The downside is there is no way for attendees to “raise their hands” to ask questions and the meetings require access codes and pins, which opens it up for user error to access a meeting.
All plans come with a 30-day free trial.
- Free for up to 3 attendees
- Starter: $14/month (10 participants)
- Pro: $29/month (150 participants)
- Plus: $39/month (250 participants)
Here are the rest of the online meeting software pack. While they didn’t make our “best of” categories, some are viable competitors with unique features that may meet your needs. If you can’t find the best fit for your team here, check out our review of 8 additional video conferencing platforms to help you find the ideal solution.
BlueJeans is definitely a unique name for a video conferencing service. Their reasoning behind the name is that they want your video conferencing service to be as comfortable as your favorite pair of jeans. Blue Jeans runs in the cloud, so there is no hardware or software installation. They offer many features, but to get pricing information you’ll have to contact them.
You must contact BlueJeans directly for pricing.
FreeConferenceCall.com is not a big name company but promises to do just that, provide free conference calling.
There are very few reviews about them online and their website has a minimum amount of information on it.
The upside is that their service is free (hence the name). So, if you want to try them out, all you have to do is enter your email address and name. If you don’t like it, you can cancel.
Our team member has used FreeConferenceCall, here is her experience:
I don’t host many conference calls, but when a meeting requires me to host an audio bridge line, I use this service because it is free and has proved reliable. – Michelle S., Safe Smart Living
Join.me has many great features. These include the ability to share files, chat and give another participant control of your machine. The ability to screen share from a Mac to a PC or vice versa is a great tool for Join Me as well. This would be a great free choice for smaller offices.
- Lite (up to 5 participants) $10/month
- Pro: $20/month (up to 250 participants)
- Business: $30/month (up to 250 participants plus additional features)
Skype works well for smaller teams needing online video conferencing solutions, but once you get to larger numbers, you may experience some issues.
Customers said they had issues with sound since more people means more background noise it became a problem. Skype automatically lowers the volume of other attendees and increases the volume of the speaker.
However, if the attendees have a lot of background noise, this can mess up the entire call and make it impossible to hear the speaker.
Does Skype Support End-To-End Encryption?
Our web developer and security expert chimes in on Skype’s encryption technology:
Skype to Skype is end-to-end encrypted, but it is important to note that it is possible to use Skype to connect to out of network endpoints that are not encrypted. So if you use your Skype to contact me who is also on Skype, we are encrypted, but if you use your cell phone or landline, or Facebook messenger and I receive it on Skype, or if I use Skype to contact you on one of those, we are not. This has the potential to confuse some people. – Dane M., Safe Smart Living
Our team member has used Skype, here is his experience:
Another ol’ timer in the video conferencing space, Skype comes without too many bells and whistles, but continues to be reliable and has a well-integrated chat feature. Functions well in both desktop and app versions. – Alex S., Safe Smart Living
Skype is free for meetings up to 10 people (up to 3 people after 60 days). Below are the rates for U.S. calls.
- Skype Credit: $0.023/minute
- United States – Unlimited minutes: $2.99/month
- North America – Unlimited minutes: $6.99/month
- World – Unlimited minutes: $13.99/month
TeamViewer takes the best web conferencing service award for one-time payment because you pay upfront only (no recurring monthly cost), it works on all platforms, it has an easy setup and is simple to use. Sure, it requires a huge investment upfront but the software and services are then yours for a lifetime, and there are few complaints about this service.
Just make sure everyone has Internet access or has it installed on each device for each participant, and your meetings are reported to be flawless. You can even test it out before you make a large investment.
TeamViewer allows you to control your work computer from home or vice versa via a VPN. This is a huge benefit when it comes to those times you leave for home and forgot to edit something in your work document if it’s not in the cloud.
- Single User: $49/month
- Multi-User: $99/month
- For Teams: $199/month
- View all options
Webex from Cisco is an affordable choice for smaller-scale companies. The Premium 25 version is their most popular and has a good balance of key features. Webex is handy for companies that use multiple different operating systems because it works with Windows, Mac and Linux.
Webex has unlimited free meetings for up to 3 people and offers the premium features free for 14 days.
- Premium 8: $24/month/host or $19/month for the annual plan with a maximum of 8 people
- Premium 25: $49/month/host or $39/month for the annual plan with a maximum of 25 people
- Premium 100: $69/month/host or $49/month for the annual plan with a maximum of 100 people
Zoom was created by Cisco and Webex engineers. This cloud service was created to “…improve the quality and effectiveness of communications forever.” This service was created in 2011 and has little user feedback, so it’s hard to decide whether it’s amazing or not.
Our team member has used Zoom, here is his experience:
I like that zoom is easy to use and has built-in screen and content sharing tools. I also like the fact that it gives the meeting organizer a level of control over the meeting. During the current COVID-19 crisis, my children have transitioned seamlessly to virtual learning on the Zoom platform. – Neil G., Safe Smart Living
- Basic: Free
- Pro: $14.99/month/host
- Business: $19.99/month/host
- Enterprise: Contact Sales
We’ve all been there when there’s a static connection, don’t know who is talking or background noise. Trip and Tyler show what a video conference call can look like in real life. Caution: this video is hilarious. Hopefully, the right video conference software will make your experience more pleasant than this one.
Your video conference will go a lot smoother and be a lot more efficient if you have a meeting agenda for everyone to work off of. Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered – check out our article on how to create a meeting agenda template and you’ll be off to the races.
Ask yourself what your goal is with your online meetings – is it just to touch base with others on a current project? Do you need to share a presentation? Or is it a monthly meeting to update employees about new policies? Video conferencing may help you communicate more efficiently, and screen sharing capabilities may help you showcase what you can see on your monitor. But if you want to showcase an organized, pre-planned presentation with video, slides, and more, perhaps for a new product launch, you’ll want to look into webinars. Visit our best webinar software review to see which platform is best suited for your needs.
What’s the funniest thing that happened on a conference call you were on?
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