Advances in technology means that reliable video conferencing has become accessible and affordable, and can easily serve the modern workplace.
This has become important for a wide range of reasons, not least to empower employee flexibility to work remotely from home, businesses having multiple office locations, but also the increasing likelihood that key clients and partners are more likely to be based around the world.
Video conferencing means that none of these issues present the complications they used to, and now meetings can take place online without worrying about technical problems, accessibility, or cost.
Additionally, with increasing concerns about the carbon cost of travel to the environment, it makes total sense for companies to seek to communicate face-to-face online rather than indulge in the wasteful cost to the business and environment in forcing people to travel to meet in a single location.
Normal consumer offerings such as Facetime and Skype have made video communications a normalized part of the conversation process, and the expectation is that businesses will increasingly embrace this technology simply because it offers so many all-round benefits, though some larger corporations remain slow on the digital take-up.
As we move into 2020, here are the best video conferencing solutions on the market:
- We've also highlighted the best phone service for business
- Want your company or services to be added to this buyer’s guide? Please email your request to firstname.lastname@example.org with the URL of the buying guide in the subject line.
Best video conferencing software - at a glance
- Zoom Meetings
- CyberLink U Meeting
- Google Hangouts Meet
Zoom your way to more productive remote meetings with this affordable, easy-to-use video conferencing software
Zoom Meetings offers a video conferencing and messaging solution for desktop and mobile devices, that aims to be very quick and easy to set up, and offer a wide range of scaleable features.
Not only does it provide HD video and audio, but it can support up to 1,000 participants at the same time, and up to 49 videos on a single screen, though such large gatherings are probably best suited to big-screen monitors.
Meetings can be saved locally or to the cloud, along with transcripts that have searchable text to work with. Additionally, collaboration is built in with the ability for participants to share their screens and work together to provide their own notes as required.
On top of this a team chat feature allows for file sharing, a searchable history, and a ten year archive. Meetings can also be escalated into one-on-one calls.
Security is built-in, using 256-bit TLS encryption for both meetings and shared files, and automated scheduling can be done from Gmail, Outlook, and iCal.
Even better is that a feature-rich free tier is available, and able to accomodate up to 100 people for up to 40 minutes, but to include additional tools for team administration and management pricing starts at $14.99 (£11.99) a month, rising to $19.99 (£15.99) a month per host for more dedicated business and enterprise packages.
Think outside this box with this futuristic video conferencing tool
BlueJeans was founded in 2009 and has its headquarters in California. The company provides interoperable cloud-based video conferencing platform.
There are three pricing tiers. BlueJeans does not have a free tier but it does offer a 30-day free trial.
The ‘Me’ tier is $19.98 (£17) per month per user. Users can have up to 50 attendees, connect from any computer, iOS or Android device and all meetings include dial-in numbers.
The ‘My Team’ plan is $23.99 (£20) per month per host and includes all the lower tier had to offer plus 10 hours of cloud meeting recordings, command centre dashboard and up to 75 participants.
The ‘My Company’ packages includes all the features of the other plans along with connection H.323//SIP room systems, room system calendar support and up to 150 participants. Users need to contact BlueJeans directly in order to get a quote.
Users do not have to sign up to an annual subscription with BlueJeans. The basic tier supports free phone audio in over 40 countries. BlueJeans also supports Dolby voice. This might suit users who are more concerned about video quality rather than the number of features included with the platform.
BlueJeans seems to have less features than some of its nearest competitors however this is overlooked due to the quality of their system along with the fact users can utilise the 30-day free trial to see if it suits their needs.
Bring your remote meetings to life with this handy tool
Lifesize was founded in 2003. The company’s main branches are located in Austin, Texas and Munich, Germany. Lifesize provides high definition video conferencing endpoints, touchscreen conference room phones and a cloud-based video collaboration platform.
Lifesize has three pricing tiers. There was no free tier, however that has changed with Lifesize Go, a completely free browser-based version of Lifesize’s service that allows users to host an unlimited number of video calls (plus screen sharing on desktop) with up to 8 participants, no caps on meeting length and no app downloads.
Each tier requires an annual contract which some users may find off-putting.
The ‘Mini Bundle’ tier starts at $16 (£12.10) per user per month. This includes 25 users, 1 permanent meeting room, global support, everyday collaboration features and an icon 400 which the company describe as a ‘small conference room solution’.
The ‘Small Bundle’ plan works out at $19 (£14.40) per user per month. This includes 125 users, 2 icon 450s, 2 HD phones, 2 wireless sharing devices, 10 permanent meeting rooms, unlimited audio conferencing, single sign-on, Skype for Business interoperability, 50 meeting participants and global support.
The ‘Medium Bundle’ package starts at $23 (£17.40) per month per user. It includes 4 icon 450s, 1 icon 600, 5 HD phones, 5 wireless sharing devices, 250 users, 50 permanent meeting rooms, unlimited recording and global support.
Outside of the free version, Lifesize’s prices may seem a bit steep compared to other video conferencing solutions. This is more than made up for with the inclusion of its own hardware into the mix. Users receive numerous devices in each plan, freeing them from not having to rely on their own integrated camera systems. Lifesize also supports 4k video conferencing.
Mobile-friendly video conferencing
GoToMeeting is the standalone webconferencing service provided by LogMeIn. As expected it provides audio and video conferencing, as well as screensharing.
One of the features that sets GoToMeetings apart is its mobile friendliness - you can set up and start a conference from your smartphone, something some big brand software would struggle to do. There are also settings to maximise call and image quality, as well as one-tap invites to join meetings as well as chats.
Mobile apps are provided separately for Android and iOS, and both have high positive review volumes, which again makes a change from some other providers who struggle to balance quality and usability with mobile use.
In terms of pricing, almost all standard features are available with the most basic payment tier, which costs $14 per month, or $12 per month with an annual payment. Even the limit of 150 participants is generous, and for most businesses this is all that will be required.
A Business plan tier is available for $19 per month (or $16 when paid annually) which increases the number of participants to 250 and includes a few admin features plus drawing tools and mouse sharing. An Enterprise plan is available to accommodate up to 3,000 participants.
However, while there are many good things to be said for GoToMeetings, if you're lookig for a business VoIP solution then GoToConnect offers both cloud-based phone system which integrates GoToMeetings as part of the package, and it may be more cost-effective to sign up for that instead.
Browser based video conferencing ideal for smaller enterprises
CyberLink is a Taiwanese multimedia software company. It was founded in 1996. U Meeting is the company’s video conferencing solution.
CyberLink U Meeting has four pricing plans.
The ‘Basic’ plan is free. It includes up to 25 participants and 30 minutes per meeting.
‘Pro 50’ is $29.99 (£29.99) per host per month. It includes up to 50 participants, 24 hours per meeting, admin tools and PerfectCam.
‘Pro 100’ starts at $49.99 (£49.99) per user per month. This includes all ‘Pro 50’ has to offer plus up to 100 participants.
The ‘Enterprise Features’ plan includes all the other tiers offerings plus meeting analysis, premium customer support and end-to-end encryption. Users need to contact sales for a quote.
‘PerfectCam’ is a most random feature. Users can add computer generated makeup to their faces with the company promising to ‘create a truly professional look’.
U Meeting is entirely web-based. This might put some users off but it can be an advantage as you will not need to download any additional software to use U Meeting. It also does not offer video recording or the ability to dial into meetings using VoIP systems.
For accessible cloud-powered conferencing
Google Hangouts Meet is part of the G Suite office productivity platform, and aims to provide a first-class conferencing service.
Developed specifically for business needs, it can cater for a large number of users at once, and also uses smart participation and a fast interface to reduce the need to wait.
As an improved version of the standard Google Hangouts, it aims to make it easier to work with external clients. It does this first by providing a web app experience, which means there is no software to download. Secondly, it also provides a dedicated dial-in number, which not only means that employees on the go can join in, but this also ensure that line quality is maintained and that there are no drop-outs.
As well as having dedicated apps available for mobile users in the Apple AppStore and Google Play store for Android, Google Hangouts Meet can also work with existing conferencing hardware. All that's required is that it follows SIP and H.323 standards for Skype for Business users. This also applies to Cisco, Lifesize, and Polycomm in particular, and by using Pexip Infinity can join in Hangouts meets.
Another key advantage is that by being within the G Suite platform it's easy to use data from other applications, not least Google Calendar, to not just plan meetings but also set up event information as required when users do sign in.
The other big plus is that Hangouts itself doesn't come with the big monthly costs that other providers might charge.
Ultimately, Hangout Meets is a serious business-grade conferencing platform that doesn't require big up-front costs for hardware, making it especially accessible for businesses of any size.