Video conferencing software is popular with businesses for two reasons—cost and convenience. Sending someone to a meeting across the country means paying for airline tickets, hotel or Airbnb, meals, and Uber or taxis. Plus that person is out of the office. Unless it’s critical that you meet in person, business travel is expensive and inconvenient.
When it’s only you and one other person, then Skype, Facetime or Google+ Hangouts will do the job. But if you need ten people collaborating in a three-hour meeting, you’ll want software built to handle that.
If you jump on your favorite search engine and look for “top ten video conferencing software,” you’ll find all sorts of opinions. Some of these top ten lists are even written by companies who rate themselves. However, some of the same services appear on multiple lists from reputable sources like PC Magazine, so we’ll take a look at five that everyone seems to like.
Most people associate Adobe with PDF files and Photoshop, and chances are you already have some of their software on your computer. But Connect is squarely aimed at businesses. Starting at $500.00 a year, Connect isn’t cheap, but it does offer features you may find useful, such as the ability to host through a mobile device, attendance via iOS or Android, and signing in on a desktop without downloading software.
Adobe emphasizes their security, and states that even the US Department of Defense uses their service. However, it’s worth remembering that anything can be hacked. If you’re dealing with something critical to the life of your company, consider a face-to-face meeting in a private location.
Like Adobe, you probably associate Cisco with something other than video conferencing, yet WebEx is well regarded. At $24 a month, it’s competitive with Goto Meeting, and offers many of the same features: free mobile apps, ability to record, mark up tools and whiteboard, VoIP or phone call in, and the choice between full screen and split screen with up to seven video feeds. The WebEx site also emphasizes Cisco’s history of reliability and security.
This product offers some interesting features, especially in the audio area of video conferencing. Meeting attendees can engage in private chat, and can enable a moderated question-and-answer session. They also use Google to provide translations in 52 languages, which could be very helpful if you work with foreign partners. And you can brand your meeting space with company logos and graphics to give it some personality. Their plans begin at $30.00 a month.
With three million users per month, Goto Meeting is one of the most popular services, and it is feature rich. Its private meeting rooms come with a custom URL, screen sharing, HD video, VoIP and phone audio with a toll-free option, live support 24/7, the option to record the session, plus mobile apps. Goto also touts their ability to work with other apps like Salesforce, Gmail, and Outlook. The starter plan is $24.00 per month.
Intercall provides conference calling and video conferencing for $25.00 a month, or $0.17 per minute per attendee. While they offer a mobile app download, VoIP, integration with Outlook, and online collaboration, Intercall appears to be aimed at smaller businesses and individuals who need a less complex solution. In fact, you can upgrade to Adobe Connect right from the Intercall site.
Don’t let the variety of services out there overwhelm you. Keep in mind that most services offer a free trial period. Ease of use is a big concern, so you may need to try two or three services until you find the one that works for you. There are few things more frustrating than scheduling ten people for a video conference and having the tech get in the way. But just think, you won’t have to sleep on a lumpy hotel mattress and eat airline food!
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