Now that we’ve all had a year to adapt to remote work and using video conferencing platforms to get work done, it’s the perfect moment to look back at all the video conferencing solutions we’ve tried. Which video conferencing service is the best one to use going forward into 2021 and beyond?
We looked at 8 different video conferencing systems to find the perfect one for you. Whether you’re a small business looking to connect just a few of your most loyal workers, or a massive multinational that needs the very best, we’ve got it covered. We’ll compare key features and look at the disadvantages of each video conferencing solution to help you determine which one is the right video conferencing app for you.
The Best Video Conferencing Software for 2021? 8 Options Reviewed
RingCentral Video Conferencing Solutions Video Conferencing Software
We start with RingCentral, one of the most complete services we’ve ever seen. RingCentral started out as a VoIP phone number provider, but has since expanded their platform to include web conferencing, file sharing, and an entire cloud-powered network for their clients. You can use their VoIP phone numbers to call into meetings from your phone line, which can be very helpful for dealing with new clients who may not want to install yet another app on their computers.
RingCentral is quickly becoming one of the most popular video conferencing solutions because of how powerful it is. It’s very scalable and has features that are especially useful for large companies with multiple locations. Its features go far beyond simple video conferencing software Here are some of the things we like most.
We would recommend opting for the Premium plan as it includes all of the main features of RingCentral. When it comes to audio and video calls, you can have up to 200 participants in your video calls, with another 1,000 on audio-only. They support HD video and audio and their system automatically records all of your calls so that you can review them if needed.
RingCentral has a very slick desktop app that you can access through your web browser, or you can download it and install it. There’s a mobile app too so that your workers can stay connected wherever they are. It’s very easy to use video conferencing with RingCentral
When it comes to collaboration tools, RingCentral stands strong. You can integrate RingCentral with your other apps, like G Suite or Microsoft Office. You can also use their API to link it to your own proprietary apps. Features like these are rare.
The main drawback of using RingCentral is that it may seem a bit expensive compared to other solutions. The Premium Plan costs $34.99 per user per month (at the time of writing) and that’s if you pay the whole year up front. For medium enterprises with a single location, this could be a bit too expensive.
Some organizations may find that 200 is a small number of participants. If you host large company-wide events or frequently have lots of invitees, then RingCentral may not be the best video conferencing software for you.
RingCentral does not yet encrypt all of its video meetings, which could be an issue for businesses that need to handle sensitive information and are subject to stricter data privacy rules.
RingCentral is great for companies that are spread out across many locations. You can manage each location independently and configure your calling to fit the needs of each facility. Since it scales very well, you can easily add users and standardize practices in a few clicks. If you absolutely need a professional business phone on your desk, RingCentral has those too.
Small to medium businesses might find the platform a bit too expensive for their needs. However, very small businesses that only have to pay for a couple of users might see RingCentral as a bargain. If you’re not sure, you can get a free trial of the Premium Plan and see if it’s right for you.
Cisco Webex Video Conferencing Solutions
Cisco has been an expert on networking and conference calls for decades. It only makes sense that they would emerge from 2020 as a leader in video conferencing software. But are they the best? Their platform is very capable, with all of the main features you look for in a video conferencing service.
Their Plus Plan is the most popular, which costs $17.95 per month per host. Compared to RingCentral’s video conferencing, that’s a pretty good deal. But does it hold up when you compare the features?
Cisco Webex meetings are focused primarily on video meetings. The virtual conference room can have up to 100 participants at the Plus level, but you can expand that up to 200 on the Business plan. They claim that you can have up to 100,000 people on a single virtual meeting! However, this is a privilege for those on the Enterprise plan and their site requests that you contact Cisco directly for more information.
Collaboration tools clearly took priority in development. Not only can you use screen sharing on your computer, but you can also share your phone screen using their mobile app, which supports both iOS and Android. Interactive whiteboarding is also a standard feature that makes collaboration even easier. With Webex, your video conferencing doesn’t have to sacrifice any of those key remote working features.
We also appreciate the security features. Cisco Webex meetings are designed to be compliant with privacy laws like HIPAA, and you can control every aspect of each user’s participation to prevent possible shenanigans. Video conferencing with Webex makes your remote work meetings safe.
While Cisco Webex meetings can be recorded, the amount of cloud storage provided is fairly low, at just 5GB. You can fill that up in just a week if you use the app frequently. You can also save these to your computer to avoid overage fees from taking up too much cloud storage.
If you’re worried about the lack of VoIP numbers, have no fear. You can add them on as an extra option, and all meetings include a call-in number.
Webex lacks a dedicated platform like RingCentral to handle text chat and other communications. But for video conferencing, it delivers just about everything you want.
If you’re a big business, consider contacting Cisco directly to see if you can get a better rate with their Enterprise plan. Otherwise, we think Cisco Webex is great for medium sized businesses that want a more affordable video conferencing solution. If all you need is a powerful app to make video calls, then this could be the best one for you.
G Suite: Google Hangouts Meet for Free Unlimited Meetings
Google’s G Suite used to have a single app called Google Hangouts Meet for video conferencing. Since then, it’s been split into two: Hangouts is mostly used for text, but it does have video calling features; meanwhile, Meet is the dedicated app for free video conferencing. Both are included in any G Suite package, and can even be used for free by individual users who have a Google account.
While Google’s core business isn’t to be a major video conferencing service, you have to assume that the world’s largest internet company could handle the task. And they do! Google Meet (formerly known as Google Hangouts Meet) works on mobile, the Chrome web browser, and it’s one of the only free video conferencing solutions available.
The free version limits your meetings to one hour and up to 100 participants per meeting. If you’re on a paid G Suite plan, then full video conferencing is included in your $8 per user per month rate. Your meeting can run for a whopping 300 hours, enough time to watch almost the entire Simpsons catalog! Google also leverages some other features to make their platform stand out.
Google is a master of online audio and video, so it makes sense that they’d pair some of their existing technology to its best video conferencing software. For instance, you can get live subtitles in English while you use Meet! No other video conferencing platforms can boast that.
Perhaps the best thing about Google’s service is ease of use. The platform is extremely intuitive and does not require any kind of advanced PC knowledge to use. Since it integrates into the rest of G Suite, it’s easy to schedule a meeting in Google Calendar and join a meeting with a single click. Video conferencing just got easier.
However, being easy to use does come at a price. Google’s video conferencing software lacks some of the features of the others.
For some organizations, this is going to be a dealbreaker. Google does not support file sharing or collaboration tools like whiteboards. Granted, you can just share files in drive and open them in another tab, but not being able to transfer files directly through Meet seems like a missed opportunity.
Screen sharing works, and to Google’s credit, if you’re sharing a Youtube video it’ll play back perfectly in HD video. However, you have less control over who can share what, so you’d better trust the people you’re meeting with. Video conferencing with Google definitely works, but it’s not nearly as powerful as we’d like.
Lastly, there are no breakout rooms or polls for your meetings, which can be helpful tools in large video conferencing situations.
If your organization already has G Suite, consider trying Google Hangouts Meet. If it works for your company, then great, you’re all set. But for many organizations, it’s going to be missing features. That keeps it from being the best video conferencing software on our list, and we’d mostly recommend it for internal meetings in small groups. Or if you’re tight on cash, the free version is one of the most robust on the market for free video conferencing services
Zoho Meeting Video Conferencing Service
Zoho Meeting sets itself apart from the pack by offering Webinar Software in addition to its Online Meetings Software. The Webinar Software includes plugins that only allow people who have paid to enter, and you don’t even need to download an app to use the platform.
The Online Meeting Software is essentially the same as the Webinar software, but with less “Webinar” features. Plans are quite affordable, and the price is based on the number of people that can enter the meetings. They offer a 14-day free trial as well. The most expensive video conferencing plan is $10 per user per month, and allows for 100 people to join your meetings.
Zoho presents itself as a direct competitor to Zoom. Consequently, they have mostly the same feature set. Features like giving keyboard and mouse control to other participants and integration with other apps come standard with all plans.
Zoho Meetings don’t require any app downloads, which can be very convenient when dealing with people outside your organization. They’ve put a lot of effort into making their video conferencing platform easy to use. They do have a mobile app if you need it, for both iOS and Android.
Zoho Meetings get the job done, but they don’t have as many of the useful features that you might find on a platform like Zoom. Like Google, Zoho lacks breakout rooms and whiteboarding. You can still use screen sharing, however.
With a limit of 100 participants, you might find that Zoho’s virtual conference room is a little too small for your liking. The only way to get more is to use their Webinar-250 plan, but this costs more than 6 times as much as the Meeting-100 option. If you need big groups, you might want to look elsewhere.
If you need high quality video conferencing at a reasonable price, then Zoho is great for small groups. The $5 per month Meeting-25 plan is a great deal for small business users.
If you host a lot of webinars, then Zoho might also be the right choice for you. Their webinar-specific features are very helpful, but also very niche. Most businesses probably can’t justify the extra expense for these features.
BlueJeans Video Conferencing Software
Here we have another “best video conferencing software” competitor relying on a strong network. BlueJeans was bought by Verizon in the middle of 2020 and had initially been doing quite well with large corporate clients. Verizon gave BlueJeans better performance and more analytics tools, but is that enough to make it the best video conferencing software?
At $13.99 per month per user, Bluejeans Pro manages to sit right in the middle when it comes to price. At this rate you get unlimited meetings with 75 participants, although you can expand the number of participants if you want to pay extra. There are no time limits at all on meetings, which is a pretty nifty feature you don’t find on most platforms.
BlueJeans had a very strong corporate presence early on, and as a result has some features that are geared more towards larger companies. For instance, there is extensive integration with other platforms, including Slack and Microsoft Teams. You can also integrate sales with Zoho and Gong. BlueJeans even boasts Canvas integration for educational environments.
It pleases the corporate overlords by providing them with in-depth analytics and extensive reports. You can easily monitor the activity of your entire organization and see who is talking with whom. It also has breakout sessions and private chat options, making it go toe to toe with the big shots in the video conferencing services industry.
On paper, BlueJeans seems to have every feature checked off its list. Its price is excellent compared to the competition. So what’s the catch?
Well, the relatively low attendance limit is one disadvantage. BlueJeans encourages you to use its BlueJeans Events webinar video conferencing solution for larger gatherings of up to 500 people. They also allow you to schedule individual events of up to 50,000 view-only attendees. Still, it seems that they are deliberately keeping the limit low to force customers to pay for additional services as needed.
Another common complaint has to do with the BlueJeans software itself. You need to use the desktop or mobile app, and these have been reported as clunky and unresponsive at times. While the high quality video and audio are appreciated, the app itself is rather sluggish even on good computers and is prone to crashing.
BlueJeans is probably best for corporate environments that need video conferencing for internal use, with the occasional large event here and there. While its features match nicely with its cost, small businesses ought to choose another platform as they aren’t likely to take advantage of some of the corporate-friendly features.
Zoom Video Conferencing Software
It’s time to talk about the big players. Most of us hadn’t heard of Zoom this time last year, but now it’s one of the largest video conferencing software operators out there. One reason why it has become the most popular video conferencing software is because of its ease of use.
After the free plan, there are paid plans starting at $14.99 per user per month which grants you unlimited meetings with up to 100 participants. For $19.99 per month per user, you get up to 300 participants and more control over your account as a business manager.
Zoom has powerful video conferencing software features. It’s essentially the app everyone else tries to emulate now. It’s perhaps the best video conferencing software from a performance perspective. Its cloud based video conferencing is very reliable and gives real time status updates.
Its screen sharing options are unparalleled. You can share a portion of your screen, enable or disable audio, and seamlessly hand over control to someone else. The participants’ controls are easy to use and breakout rooms take little effort. You may earn a commission or discounts if you share Zoom with others too!
Zoom could get more expensive than some other video conferencing services providers if you add on features like the audio plan, which gives your clients toll-free calling for your meetings, or the cloud storage package that starts at $40 a month.
But otherwise, their software works flawlessly on all platforms. There isn’t much to complain about. Overall, we’ve been pleased with Zoom.
Is Zoom the Best Video Conferencing?
Zoom has become the pandemic go-to, but what is it best for? Overall, it works best for small to medium businesses. It has the social features you need for lively, interactive meetings online. Zoom meetings let plenty of people join, and it even has a free plan that you can use to get familiar with the app using all of its major features.
Skype for Business and Microsoft Teams
While these are two separate products, they’re operated by the same company, namely Microsoft. Both Skype for Business and Microsoft Teams are included in Office 365 Business packages, which start at only $5 per host per month.
Skype for Business can get you a VoIP phone number so that people can call your company directly or join a video conference with ease. Skype for Business works better as your external communications client, while Microsoft Teams works best for internal operations.
Some might see having two distinct applications as a problem, but in reality, Microsoft has been smart to divide its video conferencing solution into two distinct apps.
Skype can call out to VoIP numbers and receive calls in the same way. This gives Skype utility as an option for communicating with your clients. But the real features are inside Microsoft Teams.
Teams has been designed from the ground up as a complete environment where collaboration tools take precedence. File sharing is instant and easy, screen sharing is a piece of cake, and integration with other Office 365 software makes taking care of business a trivial matter.
Teams also can brag about its whopping number of participants for video conferences. 300 people can enter and meetings work flawlessly.
The main drawback of using Microsoft is being more trapped in its environment. If you’re a G Suite user, then switching to Microsoft may be more trouble than it’s worth. But if you haven’t settled on a video conferencing solution just yet, Microsoft works well.
They have desktop apps as well as web browser options, but the web browser solutions can be a bit hard to run on older computers. They are quite network and RAM intensive, so they can run a bit slow if you don’t have fast internet and snappy PCs.
With an affordable solution that includes every single Microsoft Office app that you could ever want, what business couldn’t benefit from using Microsoft’s video conferencing software? In fact, we’d go as far as to say it’s the best video conferencing software and should be your choice going into 2021.
Which Software Is Best for Video Conferencing?
As you can see, all the options here have their strengths and weaknesses. The easy answer is Zoom, and a lot of people do know how to use that. Google might work well if you already have a lot of things in Google accounts, but there are some key missing features. Overall, our favorite is RingCentral, but it’s worth giving a few of them a try to find the perfect solution for your needs.