After conducting extensive research and analysis of video conference services, we recommend join.me as the best video conference service for many participants.
Already prepared to choose a video conference service? Here's a breakdown of our complete coverage:
- Choosing a Video Conference Service: A Buyer's Guide
- Best Video Conference Services: 2016 Edition
- Best Video Conference Service for Business
- Best Inexpensive Video Conference Service
- Best Cloud-based Video and Phone Conferencing Collaboration Tools
Join.me, a LogMeIn product, is neither the cheapest video conference system nor the one with the most available room for participants. However, join.me struck the right balance between cost and maximum number of participants for us to name it the best video conference service for many participants. It remains very affordable while allowing up to 250 participants into a meeting at any given time, and also offers a powerful, easy-to-use system.
Join.me included all of the major features we looked for, as well as retained some of the ancillary features we most enjoyed (despite its professed aim to cut out the unnecessary bells and whistles). Here are some of the features available on join.me:
- App integration – Join.me can integrate a wide array of applications your business might use, including major products such as Microsoft Outlook, Google Calendar, Salesforce and Microsoft Office 365. By integrating apps, you can operate directly through join.me; for example, you can schedule a conference ahead of time and provide all of the necessary details to your team on Outlook.
- Audio calls – Included in the license is the ability to make audio calls using Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP). If you choose, join.me could double as your phone system.
- Control over user permissions – The system allows the administrator to control user permissions. Do you want to restrict who can record meetings or utilize the presenter-swap feature? Do you want to view your team's most utilized features or monitor ongoing meetings? Admins have the power to do all of those things.
- Meeting branding – A nice touch to join.me's conferences is the ability to brand the room with a custom meeting link name and your organization's logo as the background image.
- Mobile applications – You don't have to be confined to your office or home to use join.me video conferencing. Download the mobile application on your smartphone to use it on the go.
- "One-click" scheduling – There are a number of ways to schedule conferences and presentations in join.me, whether through the service's own scheduler, Microsoft Outlook or Google Chrome. Once a meeting is scheduled, it takes one click to start it up.
- Recording – Join.me is capable of both video and audio recording, and depending on which package you purchase, offers a great deal of cloud storage space. The Pro package includes 5GB of cloud storage, while the Business package includes 5TB.
- Screen sharing – An essential aspect of video conferencing, screen sharing allows you to show other participants what's on your screen. One aspect of join.me's screen-sharing feature is the Window Share option, which lets you share one window with other participants while leaving others open on your desktop to take notes, for example.
- Training – Purchasing join.me entitles you and your organization to free training from the company. After you complete the training, join.me will do regular check-in calls to ensure your satisfaction and answer any new questions your users might have.
- Presenter swap – The presenter-swap feature allows you to switch presenters at any time during a meeting. The new presenter will be able to broadcast his or her screen, just as you broadcast your own. This feature is especially useful if multiple members in your organization intend to deliver a portion of the presentation.
- Video bubbles – Video bubbles appear in the video conference to show you who is dialed in and what's happening on their webcam. Seeing all of the participants' faces not only helps to facilitate the flow of the meeting but also allows the presenter to ensure that everybody is engaged in the conference.
- Whiteboards – Whiteboards are a collaborative tool to sketch out ideas or jot down notes. The Pro and Business packages come with unlimited whiteboards for use by participants. One drawback of join.me's whiteboards, however, is that they are supported only by Apple products.
Ease of use
Another big reason we chose join.me as a best pick is the software's simplicity. Video conference systems need to be easy to navigate, so as to minimize the training your employees and other users will need. Join.me is intuitive and straightforward, with a simple interface and helpful tutorials like this one.
The majority of essential controls are confined to a small panel that opens along with the conferencing tool. The panel displays four buttons, which can be used to access many functions, such as sending email invitations to your meeting, muting and unmuting participants, and broadcasting your screen to participants. Adjacent to the main controls are settings for your own personal line; here, you can turn your camera or microphone on and off, open a presentation, and invite additional users directly from the join.me application.
Join.me also makes use of a "video bubble" function, which displays small circles with the video feeds of other participants in a small, single-file line on your screen. You can adjust settings for individual participants or, if the video bubbles are in your way, drag them around the screen to reposition them. Video bubbles are useful to ensure each participant is actually engaged.
It shouldn't take too long to become familiar with the typical functions of a join.me room. The layout lends itself to simple exploration, and after the first few minutes, join.me starts to feel comfortable to use.
Join.me is an affordable service that offers three different pricing tiers to meet your business's specific needs. When considering pricing, which is based on a "per user per month" fee (billed annually), it's important to keep in mind that only users who will be presenting in meetings require an account; that will help keep costs down if you have only a few meeting hosts in your organization. Each pricing package is listed below, but the "business" plan is the reason we chose join.me as the best video conference system for multiple participants; the cheaper plans reduce the number of total users permitted to access the system at any given time.
Join.me Free (up to 10 participants):
- Includes a 14-day free trial
Join.me Pro (up to 50 meeting participants):
- $20 per month per user
Join.me Business (up to 250 meeting participants):
- $25 per month per user
Of the video conference services we evaluated, one of our best customer service experiences was with join.me. The customer service reps were friendly, knowledgeable and eager to answer all of our questions about the system. Join.me offers both email and phone support, but phone support is available only with the Pro and Business packages. However, email support was quick to respond, and most of the answers to your questions can readily be found in Join.me user forums or help section. But if you can't find the information you're looking for in those places, you can try join.me's feedback form, which allows users to notify the company of any shortcomings, misinformation or confusion that might have taken place.
Limited to 250 participants: Although many small businesses don't need 250 participants to sit in on any given meeting, larger enterprises might find join.me's limit of 250 participants restrictive. However, because the vast majority of entrepreneurs we spoke with said this would be sufficient to meet their needs, and because join.me boasts an above-average ability to stream the video feeds of 10 different cameras at a time, we still decided to name join.me as the best video conference service for multiple participants.
We chose join.me from a pool of dozens of video conference services. To learn more about our full methodology and for a more comprehensive list of video conference services, visit our best picks page here.