More and more teams are using remote workers on their team, which can put a strain on communication without the right video conferencing software and other comms tools. This particularly disadvantages those who are not based in the office, as they might miss out on the benefits of being in the room.
Contingent workers are a valuable asset and 88% of hiring managers report increasing comfortability with installing remote workers in even more senior positions. As hybrid teams become more common, there is a need for the right communication and collaboration tools that can bring people together.
According to the Owl Labs State of Video Conferencing 2019 report, video conference meetings are the preferred method of communication when in-person meet-ups are not possible. That means that video conferencing is now the favored method of communication over email, instant messaging, and phone calls.
This article will help you quickly compare and evaluate the best web conferencing software and other meeting apps. In this post, I’ll discuss how teleconferencing tools can amplify your meetings, webinars, and presentations. I’ll highlight some of the best webinar conferencing software and outline what makes them stand out. I will also answer some FAQs about online meetings and how they can help your team.
Quickly Compare & Evaluate The 10 Best Web Conferencing Tools
Video conference tools connect people, no matter where in the world they are. As workspaces become less traditional, you can use this technology to connect people without needing to physically be in the same room.
Teleconferencing Software FAQ
What is video conferencing software?
Video conference software is a type of technology that helps launch and host video-based communication between multiple parties. They may include file sharing capabilities, an online video recorder, messaging systems, and other communication-based tools.
What is video conferencing equipment?
In order to host or participate in a video conference, you will need a set of video conferencing equipment. The equipment needed will depend on the type of video conference you want (number of participants, type of video stream, et cetera). Common video conferencing equipment includes a webcam, headset, microphone, a broadband connection, monitor or TV display, and your choice of web conferencing software.
What are some alternatives to Skype?
Skype is one of the more well-known video conferencing tools but it’s not the only one available. You can also try these alternatives to Skype: Google Hangouts, Microsoft Teams, Adobe Connect, Cisco Webex, Join.me, Ryver, and more.
What is the best free online meeting software?
Working on a tight budget? Here are some free teleconferencing tools you can rely on: Google Hangouts, Zoom (free plan), Skype, Free Conference Calling, GoToMeeting (free), Apple FaceTime, UberConference, TrueConf Online, Appear.in, Slack Video Calls, Facebook Live, YouTube Live, and more.
Not looking for video chat apps? Check out our other lists of top project management tools:
- Video call apps aren’t the only way to keep in touch with partners, teammates, and clients. There are many different communication tools that you can use.
- Collaborative tools are important – but is it time to move away from Basecamp? Try these 10 Basecamp alternatives to shake things up.
- Below, you’ll see that we outline Microsoft Teams as a solid choice for conference call software. If you’re already in the Microsoft ecosystem, check out Planner as well.
Software Comparison Criteria
What are we looking for when we select video conferencing software for review? Here’s a summary of my evaluation criteria:
- User Interface (UI): Is it clean and attractive?
- Usability: Is it easy to learn and master? Does the company offer good tech support, user support, tutorials, and training?
- Features & Functionality:
- Interactivity Features – Does the tool allow ways to get your audience involved in the presentation like polls, surveys, or a blackboard?
- Accessibility – Does the tool offer options for recording/playback, subtitles, closed captioning, screen capture, note taking, and so on?
- Document sharing / collaboration options – Can users share, edit, mark up, and save documents within a collaborative space? Do these tools work seamlessly with the video software to enhance the online meeting experience?
- Ease of Searchability – Whether it’s sifting through your contacts or looking over chat notes or call history, does the software make it easy to do so?
- Integrations: Is it easy to connect with other tools? Any pre-built integrations?
- Value for $: How appropriate is the price for the features, capabilities, and use case? Is pricing clear, transparent and flexible?
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Overviews of the Best Online Meeting Software and Hardware
Here’s a brief description of each of the video conference tools that are featured on this top 10 list.
1. Google Hangouts – Free video conferencing software that can be initiated one-on-one or in a larger group, for desktop and mobile.
Google hangouts is a communication tool designed, as the name suggests, by Google and is a product housed within the G Suite package of solutions. This software has two primary components: Google Hangouts Meet (video-based) and Google Hangouts Chat (text-based).
Obviously, free-to-use software appeals to the Value for Cost segment of our evaluation criteria; Google Hangouts is also robust enough to satisfy most small business needs plus it’s easy to get started using.
Integrations include other Google software, like Gmail, Google Docs, and so on. Additionally, third-party services can be connected through Zapier or by using Google’s designated API.
The con of using a free video-conferencing tool is always that it will have paid-tools with a deeper expanse of features, or a more specific niche, and Google Hangouts is no exception. You may experience some connectivity issues, with audio echoing or not connecting right away.
Google Hangouts is free to use.
2. Skype for Business (now part of Microsoft Teams) – Use the desktop app, mobile app, or web browser version of Skype to easily video chat online with a client or group.
Microsoft Teams has now started to replace Skype for Business Online as Microsoft’s professional online meeting solution. They are a one-in-the-same tool but with a new branding angle; it offers instant messaging, video conferencing, calling, and document collaboration.
Skype for Business (via Microsoft Teams) is a great low-cost tool with a freemium version available for the benefit of startups and small businesses; they score favorably in the Value for Cost section of the evaluation segment.
Being a Microsoft product means that Skype is designed to easily integrate with other MS software.
One con is occasional stability issues of the software, be it video or audio not connecting even on a strong internet connection, or lost chat histories, delayed or disappeared notifications, and so on.
Microsoft Teams (which includes Skype for Business) starts at $5/user/month and has a freemium version of the software.
3. Microsoft Teams – Web meeting software with video calling, text chat, file sharing, and more (now includes Skype for Business).
Microsoft Teams is a project management solution that includes robust features for video calling and conference calls. They have account options for business use, educational use, and personal use, meaning there is a lot of flexibility for interested parties.
A stand-out feature of Microsoft Teams is their ability to gamify video conferencing; users will experience fun additions to the calls and chats, from GIF uploads to Snapchat-esc filters (yes, turning yourself into a potato is an option).
Integrations include other Microsoft software, like Word, Excel, Outlook, and Publisher, as well as third-party apps like Stack Overflow, LizardOpenDataBot, Skooler, Coreview, LeaveBot, Remind, GTMHub, and many more free and paid options that can be viewed in their Marketplace.
Microsoft Teams lost a few points in UX because of some navigation and clutter issues, resulting in decreased usability. Desktop clients tend to have sluggish performance and it can be cumbersome to locate the latest version of any file.
Microsoft Teams starts at $5/user/month and has a free 30-day trial.
4. Adobe Connect – Video calling tools with a focus on digital training, webinar, and collaboration experiences with familiar Adobe UX.
Adobe Connect is video conferencing and chat software with tools for online meetings, webinar solutions, and/or visual classroom solutions, depending on your company needs. The basic plan for meetings includes rich recording and editing tools and included storage and VoIP.
Adobe goes above and beyond for online meeting software, offering smart tools like chats and polls, video editing options, media sharing, on-demand recordings, and more. If you want a tool that lets you think outside of the box for web meetings, this could be it.
Integrations include Countdown Timer, Adobe Connect Clock, Randomizer, Custom Survey and Polling Pod, Vantage Point, YouTube Player, StickyNotePages, UpVote, Talking Stick, Stage Lights, Star Rating, Canvas LMS Integration, SAP Enterprise Learning Integration, ScheduleOne, and even games like Odds and Evens or Tic Tac Toe.
The learning curve for Adobe Connect, like much of ADobe’s software, has a steep learning curve; this tool is better for experienced AV users or at least a team with a robust IT department. Thus, they lost some marks in the Usability section of the evaluation criteria.
Adobe Connect starts at $50/month and has a free 90-day trial.
5. uMeeting – Virtual meeting software that focuses on streamlining invitation tools, mobile connection, interruption muting, and more.
U Meeting has two different video software solutions, one with a focus on online meetings and the other with a focus on public webinars. “Invitation only” meetings allow hosts to control the list of participants who have access to certain confidential meetings.
U Meeting scores well in the UX section of the evaluation criteria, not only because the tool looks good but also because they have many interface “enhancement” options; they offer vanity options like AI-powered background blur, optimized lighting, and AR-powered touch-up tools.
Integrations were not mentioned in the U Meeting website, nor listed online by a third party.
The freemium version of the software has a maximum time of 30 minutes per meeting, making it less than ideal for important corporate discussions. However, this could be a good test run if you treat it more as you would a free trial for video conference software.
U Meeting starts at $29.99/user/month and has a freemium version of the software.
6. Cisco Webex – Video conferencing with easy by-link invites and personal profiles so you can learn about the people you are calling in real-time.
Cisco Webex has a range of solutions for a quick audio conference call or a full-fledged video conference with multiple locations or offices. This tool offers conference calls, screen sharing, support and storage, and an unlimited number of meetings no matter the plan you choose.
The quality of the live video and audio components is good and the bandwidth of the software is relatively low so you can avoid sputtering on a good internet connection. Integrations with Outlook and Gmail make adding web meetings to those respective calendars painless.
Integrations include Outlook, Google Drive, Github, Office 365, Salesforce, and Gmail.
Connecting through a browser was a challenge; mostly, the software will invasively prompt you to download the extension or entire application. This is fine if it’s your conference software of choice but they lost some marks in Usability because it can be hard to onboard new callers.
Cisco Webex starts at $13.50/host/month and has a freemium version of the software.
7. Join.me – Webinar software with a personalized chatroom URL, customizable background, and other details to broadcast your brand.
Join.me offers video bubbles (floating visual images of you and the people you are meeting), local conference numbers in the U.S. and 50+ countries, optional toll-free numbers, and audio controls for meeting hosts such as Active Speaker, Individual Mute, and Roll Call.
Join.me scored well in the Usability segmento of the evaluation criteria because it is quick and intuitive to get set-up and their free trial lets you make an account and host a meeting immediately. Swapping between presenters is easy, even for non-tech-savvy users.
Integrations include Outlook and Google Calendar, Trello, Slack, G Suite, HipChat, HubSpot, Highspot, Salesforce, Octiv, DocSend, Yesware, and more through either Zapier or their developer API.
A few cons to note: there was some lag noticed during video calls, perhaps more so than other items on this list. Additionally, the “video bubbles” that are pegged as a feature might be cumbersome for those who want larger images or are used to square frames.
Join.me starts at $10/month and has a free 14-day trial.
8. Ryver – Unlimited voice and video calls with call tools that include one-click connection, high quality audio, screen sharing, and more.
Ryver was launched in 2014 as a platform for teams to communicate, manage tasks, and automate business processes. Features include video conferencing, forums, teams, chat software, news streaming, task management, and a 256-bit RSA encryption.
Ryver integrates with 1000’s of other apps using existing plugins or APIs/webhooks, and they inform users of their options up front. Thus, they scored very well in the Integrations section of the evaluation criteria section.
Integrations include Google Sheets and Google Forms, Gmail, a Chrome Plugin, Slack, Twitter, Asana, Dropbox, Bot Kit and Hubot, and many more through Zapier.
Logging into the mobile app is a slow process, not to mention the semi-frequent errors that can potentially boot users back out. A minor critique would be the need to improve mobile functionality in today’s day and age.
Ryver starts at $49/month and has a free 14-day trial.
9. GlobalMeet Collaboration – A no-download video conferencing solution with a freemium plan that allows up to 125 participants and HD video.
GlobalMeet Collaboration is a no-download video conferencing solution with 24/7 in-meeting support offered for all users. They also have audio-only pricing available for those who don’t need video calls or are looking for calling features on a budget.
Easy to use and navigate, GlobalMeet scored favorably in the UX section of the evaluation criteria. The windows and menuing are intuitive and clean, making their interface feel very self-explanatory upon looking at it.
Integrations include Microsoft Teams, Cisco, Tandberg, LifeSize, Polycom, Skype, Salesforce, Marketo, Hubspot, and more.
One con is that at $16-per-user, GlobalMeet tends to be quite costly compared to others on this list. They are certainly a feature-rich tool but many functions can be found elsewhere for cheaper.
GlobalMeet Collaboration starts at $16/user/month and has a freemium plan available.
10. Whereby – An easy-to-use video meetings tool that works right in your browser of choice with a free plan that allows 1 user and 1 meeting room.
Used by the likes of Shopify and Trello, Whereby is a video communication service that launched in 2013 and was acquired by Videonor in 2017. Their selling feature is video calling without the need for downloads or even log-ins for guests.
Whereby was ranked #1 easiest to use on G2 Crowd and we agree; the no download, no log-in feature is true to its promise to make using the tool quick and easy from the get-go. They scored highly in the Usability department because of this.
Integrations include Google Docs, Trello Boards, YouTube, and Slack.
One con is that certain integrations are limited to business and pro accounts only, meaning that you would be forced to upgrade even if you don’t need the increased user limits and other additions.
Whereby starts at $9.99/month and has a freemium version for 1 user.
Hardware Comparison Criteria
As you will see, we have a list of recommended video conferencing hardware below, as well. The evaluation criteria for that is slightly different, obviously, so I’ve done a brief outline of what I am looking for here:
- Usability: Is the hardware easy to assemble, connect, and use?
- Accessory Connectivity: Can other hardware be easily plugged in and used with the device (extra mics and cameras, as so on)?
- Features & Functionality:
- Camera Stability – Does the camera have the means to produce sharp, clear focus despite different action occurring on the scene? Does it recover seamlessly from the occasional bump or readjustment?
- 4K or HD video quality – Is the produced video of high quality? Is the quality maintained through the length of the call?
- Number of Participants – What is the average number of participants the hardware/camera can handle?
- Group Framing / Speaker Tracking – Does the hardware have a way to track the current focus of the meeting by movement, voice, or through manual input?
- Integration: Does the hardware work with most of the popular video conferencing software on the market?
- Value for $: How appropriate is the price for the features, capabilities, and use case?
Overviews Of The Best Video Conferencing Hardware
1. Poly G7500 – Share content wirelessly from any device and enhance presentations with content annotation and digital whiteboarding.
This conference room system is made by Polycom and is a good fit for rooms that fit between 4-12 people, though certain configurations may allow for a larger audience. This package touts an EagleEye Cube 4k Camera with smart auto-framing technology. This tool boats a native integration with Zoom, available without the need for additional computers in the conference room. This could be a pro for anyone who already uses Zoom or is undecided on their software choice. The Poly G7500 evaluated favorably in Accessory Connectivity, as you can add or subtract different accessories within the bundle, changing the overall cost and number of functionalities covered. The Poly G7500 starts at $4599.
2. Logitech Group Video Conferencing Bundle – An audio/video conferencing bundle with HD video camera, speakerphone and expansion mics.
The Logitech Group Video Conferencing Bundle can launch video meetings with a plug-and-play USB connection and is optimized for up to 20 participants. This system offers D 1080p video with autofocus, digital pan/tilt/zoom, and premium Zeiss-certified optics. The zoom feature and stability of the camera are some of this hardware’s best features. It is compatible with all major video conferencing solutions, like Zoom, Gotomeeting, Web-ex, and Skype. This tool evaluated highly for its Number of Participants features, which allow the camera and microphone to accommodate up to 20 individuals per meeting room, which is substantially more than other competitors. The Logitech Group Video Conferencing Bundle starts at $1299.
3. Poly Studio – Featuring a 4K Ultra-HD camera, 120 field of view, 5x zoom, and a 6-element beamforming microphone array with 12ft pickup range.
The Poly Studio is a business-class video conferencing hardware solution with automatic group framing and speaker tracking. This hardware works best for any home office, huddle room, or small conference rooms with automatic group framing and speaker tracking. Poly is a merging of technology companies Polycom and Plantronics and the Poly Studio is their answer to a video conferencing solution, boasting connectivity with Cisco Webex Meetings, Hangouts, Microsoft Teams and/or Zoom. This tool evaluated well in the Features – Camera Stability segment of the evaluation criteria, mainly because the speaker tracking works well with the camera tracking the current source of voice/focus within a few seconds of speech. The Poly Studio starts at $1120.
4. Logitech Meetup – A 120-degree field of view, 3 microphones and a custom-tuned speaker, multiple video resolutions, and more.
This is Logitech’s premier conferencecam specifically designed for business grade video meetings in huddle rooms and small conference rooms. Features include built in audio system features 3 microphones and multiple video resolutions, including ultra 4k, 1080p, and 720p. A stand out feature of this hardware is the wide angle camera, which can easily capture small the length of a conference room without warping. All of this for a very reasonable price, making it very suitable for small 5-6 person groups. The flexibility of the video resolutions scored this tool highly in the Features – Video Quality segment of the evaluation criteria; everyone using this tool should be able to find a resolution that works for their purposes and with any preexisting hardware. The Logitech Meetup starts at $899.99.
5. Logitech ConferenceCam Connect – 90-degree field of view and 360-degree sound optimized for groups of approximately 2-to-6.
The Logitech ConferenceCam Connect is a portable video conferencing solution with a sleek, easy to carry design. This tool also lets you connect mobile devices to the camera in order to display presentations and other content on a TV screen from a tablet or smartphone. The easy portability of this hardware is easily one of the most interesting features, as anyone who needs something “on the go” will find this possibility endlessly helpful. It is small enough to fit in a suitcase for business trips, too. The Logitech ConferenceCam Connect scored highly for Usability, as it is designed to move with its user and is capable of a quick, easy set-up in changing remote locations for those on the go. The Logitech ConferenceCam Connect starts at $499.99.
6. Logitech Conference Cam – Motorized pan, tilt and zoom, integrated full duplex omni-directional speakerphone with 8-foot range, and more.
The Logitech Conference Cam features a microphone bandwidth of 200 Hz – 8 kHz; 720p HD video calling (up to 1280 x 720 pixels); 78-degree field of view and 180-degree remote-controlled video pan, tilt, zoom; and omni-directional mic pickup and echo cancellation. Logitech works with most any video conferencing application or meetings service, including Skype for Business, BlueJeans, Broadsoft, Cisco Jabber, Cisco WebEx, Fuze, LifeSize Cloud, Vidyo, and Zoom—a huge plus for flexibility. The Logitech Conference Cam scored well in Value for Price, as it is relatively inexpensive, as well as earning marks for general Connectivity Features that ensure it works with all popular web video software. The Logitech Conference Cam starts at $248.99.
7. Owl Labs – 360 Degree, 720p video conference camera that automatically shifts focus to different people in the room when they speak.
The Owl Labs Meeting Owl is a 360° smart video conferencing camera that has the capability to highlight and shift focus to different people in the room when they speak. It combines mic, camera and speaker into one device and eight microphones pick up everyone within 12 feet. Flexible and affordable, Owl Labs easily plugs-and-plays with common video conferencing software like Zoom, Meet, Skype, Slack, BlueJeans, GoToMeeting, and more. Owl Labs scores well in the evaluation criteria for Value for Price and Connectivity, as it is relatively inexpensive and connects easily with all popular web-based video conferencing software. Owl Labs starts at $799.
8. Logitech Brio Webcam – 4K Ultra HD webcam with 5x digital zoom for recording/video calling that is certified for Skype for Business and Cisco.
The Logitech Brio Webcam weighs approximately 336 g and sports dimensions of 2.5 x 2.5 x 10.2 cm; it fasteners atop most computer monitors at the top of the screen for an easy, portable video conferencing solution with a 4k image sensor, high dynamic range (HDR), and autofocus. This tool is certified for skype for business and cisco, and compatible with popular video meeting apps including zoom, WebEx, BlueJeans, Facebook messenger, and more. This hardware scored highly in the Value for Price section of the evaluation criteria along with Usability thanks to the flexibility and portability of the tool. The Logitech Brio starts at $399.
Other Video Conferencing Tools Options
Here’s a few more that didn’t make the top list. If you need additional suggestions for the best video call app, check these out.
- Lifesize – Host free and instant video calls with your team right from your phone or browser.
- BlueJeans – Builds meeting highlights and transcription plus live meeting analytics and alerts.
- GoToMeeting – Instantly join, host or manage a video, audio or web meeting from anywhere.
- Zoom – Host up to 100 video participants and an unlimited number of meetings with their free plan.
- TeamViewer – Logged and indexed team messaging, face-to-face HD VoIP video, audio calling, and group meetings.
- Zoho Meeting – Deliver presentations, record sessions, download reports, host webinars, and more.
- Pexip – Dynamic video collaboration to schedule and host meetings instantly on any device.
- Flock – Video call directly from within a chat or channel and share your screen to get into details.
What Do You Think About the Webconference Software and Tools Listed Above?
Meeting face-to-face is invaluable but sometimes it’s just not possible for everyone to be in the same room. Video conference software saves you the time and cost associated with travelling to meet clients.
Check-in more frequently and with ease to ensure projects stay on track. Videoconference and webconference software can orient you meetings, connect your teammates and partners, and keep everyone on the same page.
Have you tried out any web conferencing tools listed above? What video chat app do you prefer, and why? Are we missing anything from our list? Let us know in the comments below.