Zoom has established itself as one of the best video conferencing solutions on the market, to the extent that a Google search will land you several articles about it becoming so popular it’s now used as a verb. This isn’t surprising considering it has over 300 million daily meeting participants.
In this Zoom review, we go over several aspects of the software, including its plans and pricing, main features, customer support, and security, to help you determine whether it’s right for you.
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Plans and pricing
Zoom offers four plans, and the pricing per plan is for a single license. To host meetings simultaneously, you’ll need more than one license.
The free plan enables you to host 100 participants but has a 40-minute time limit on group meetings. One-to-one meetings, however, are unlimited. Paid plans increase the group meeting time limit to 30 hours.
The Pro plan, at $149.90/year, gives you the ability to host 100 participants, stream on social media, 1GB of cloud storage for recordings, and real-time transcription.
You can get all this and host up to 300 participants with the Business plan ($199.90/year), and if you fork out $240/year for the Enterprise plan, you can host up to 500 participants and access Zoom’s best features.
For the advanced plans, you can utilize the Large Meetings add-on to host up to 1,000 participants. If you choose annual billing, you’ll save around 15% on charges.
Zoom is a powerhouse of features, supporting HD video and audio calling, social media streaming, screen sharing, integration with essential apps, and much more. Let’s look at some of the most important.
All of Zoom’s plans enable you to record meetings locally, and there’s cloud recording on all the paid plans, with the Enterprise plan offering unlimited cloud storage.
Audio transcription is available on the Business and Enterprise plans. This feature transcribes the audio of cloud-recorded meeting files and saves it, so you can focus on the meeting rather than worry about note-taking. You can also display the transcript in a video, like captions.
The paid plans now have live audio transcription, which creates a real-time transcript of the audio while the meeting is ongoing. However, the version at time of writing (5.5.0) only supports English language for both transcription features.
Video conferences may feel uncomfortable for people because of unpleasant surroundings. With Zoom’s Virtual Backgrounds, you can change your background to any other image of your preference, and you’ll find backgrounds for downloading on Zoom’s library. With the latest version, you can blur your background if you don’t want a virtual background.
Zoom suppresses distracting background noises to give you a focused experience. You can adjust the noise cancellation depending on your environment. On the low setting, it’ll suppress faint background noises. On the high setting, it’ll clear louder sounds, like keyboard typing or a dog barking.
With the advanced plans, you can use the admin portal to track meetings and participants, receive usage insights, and manage all your company’s users on one account for simplified billing.
Interface and in use
Zoom has a neat, uniform interface on both the mobile and desktop app. The home screen has four large icons to fulfill all your meeting needs: New Meeting, Join, Schedule, and Share Screen. You can use Zoom on the browser, but it lacks some features like meeting recording. Downloading the desktop client takes a few minutes and doesn’t have any restrictions.
With a strong internet connection, audio and video relaying were smooth. Zoom’s latest version is well optimized and used around 15–20% CPU on a 2.20 GHz 4-Core Intel Core i7 device. This is a tremendous upgrade, considering the application used around 50% CPU in 2020 on devices with similar specs. Overall, Zoom uses resources efficiently and performs quite well.
Support is limited with Zoom’s free plan: you only have access to the Help Center, which has easy-to-follow video tutorials and guides. There is also a simple chatbot that connects you to the relevant resources.
Pro plan users enjoy better support, with live chat and ticketing, while those on the Business and Enterprise plans can also avail of phone support.
A support ticket’s response time depends on its priority grade. Urgent tickets receive a response in one hour and high priority tickets receive a response in four hours. The normal and low priority tickets get a response within 24 hours. All the advanced plans have 24/7 support across phone, chat, and web, even on public holidays.
Zoom’s security has improved considerably since 2020. Meetings are secured with the Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) 256, which is practically unbreakable by brute computing force. With AES-256, a one-time encryption key is created and managed on Zoom’s servers for every session. But this means the keys can be compromised if Zoom comes under a cybersecurity attack.
To provide enhanced protection, Zoom has launched end-to-end encryption (E2EE) for both free and paid accounts, and users can opt to enable or disable this feature. With E2EE turned on, the encrypted keys are created on the participants’ machines, so only they have access to them. This data can’t be accessed by anyone else, including Zoom. However, activating E2EE disables features like streaming and cloud recording.
There are many video conferencing applications with incredible features, but the best software for you will meet your needs perfectly.
Google Meet, for instance, doesn’t have advanced features like Zoom, but it’s optimized for smaller teams. As part of Google Workspace, it integrates excellently with other Google applications, like Calendar and Docs.
When it comes to security, Webex’s default settings enhance data privacy, so customers aren’t responsible for securing their accounts. Similarly, Lifesize’s meetings are end-to-end encrypted by default. With Zoom, you have to adjust your security settings yourself to avail of additional protection. If security is paramount for you, then Webex and Lifesize won’t disappoint.
Zoom is packed with great features and has a clean, user-friendly interface. It has optimized its performance to improve quality and reduce system load, and now offers end-to-end encryption (E2EE) for its meetings. Although Zoom’s default settings don’t bolster account security and privacy, it makes up for this with its advanced features and ease of use.
Zoom is perfect for businesses with rigorous video conferencing needs. But if you only require simple features, then a quick setup web app, like Google Meet, will be more convenient. With a 60-minute limit on meetings and features like screen share, whiteboard, and virtual background, Meet’s free plan is perfect for basic use.
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