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Zoom Review

Best Video Conference Service for Many Participants

A Business News Daily Review

Product and service reviews are conducted independently by our editorial team, but we sometimes make money when you click on links. Learn more.

After conducting extensive research and analysis of video conference services, we recommend Zoom as the best video conference service for large audiences.

We chose Zoom 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.

When choosing a video conference service, there are two big factors that businesses that host meetings for large audiences need to consider. Both of the main considerations revolve around how many people can join and participate in a meeting. Businesses that host video meetings with lots of people need a video conference solution that can support such a large number of participants.

In addition, businesses that host meetings with lots of attendees would like a service that can support a large number of video feeds. Allowing more people to be on camera at one time takes pressure off the meeting host to pick which participants can have their video feeds on at any given time.

Zoom is a perfect solution for businesses that need their video conference service to support large audiences, because it allows businesses to host meetings with anywhere from 100 to 1,000 participants. Even Zoom's Basic service plan, which is free, can host meetings with up to 100 people.

What makes Zoom even more appealing is that there is no limit to how many people can be on camera at one time. Everyone who participates in each Zoom video conference can be on camera. Many of the other video conference solutions we examined had caps on the number of video feeds that could be displayed at once.

Businesses that require a video conference service for large audiences also want a solution that can provide all of the tools needed for video rooms. They want a service that can easily transform a conference room into a meeting space that allows those in it to participate in video conferences.

Zoom provides all of the tools that businesses need to turn any room into a space for video meetings, such as software, microphones, display screens and speakers. Zoom has suggested equipment for various size rooms, such as executive offices, huddle rooms for up to seven people, conference rooms for up to 15 people and training rooms for any size of audience.

All things considered, Zoom is an excellent option for businesses that need a video conference solution for large audiences, because each service plan can support hundreds of people at one time and has unlimited feed videos.

Editor's note: Looking for a video conferencing solution? Fill out the below questionnaire to be connected with vendors that can help.

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Zoom offers four service plans, allowing businesses of all sizes and budgets to use this video conference software.

Zoom has a free plan and three paid plans. The service plans differ in price and features. Businesses need to purchase a plan for each employee they want to host meetings. You can have one license for the entire company, but only one meeting can be held at one time. Multiple host licenses give employees the ability to host multiple meetings at the same time. You do not need to purchase host licenses for those who are just joining a meeting.

Here is a breakdown of each plan:

  • Cost: Free
  • Minimum number of hosts: 1
  • Max participants: 100
  • Meeting duration: 40-minute limit on group meetings
  • Features: HD video and voice, simultaneous screen share, dial-in options, desktop and application sharing, instant or scheduled meetings, local recording, Chrome and Outlook plugins, host controls, group messaging, presence indicators, and whiteboarding
  • Cost: $14.99 per host, per month
  • Minimum number of hosts: 1
  • Max participants: 100
  • Meeting duration: 24 hours
  • Features: Everything in Basic plan, plus advanced administrator meeting controls, reporting, custom personal meeting IDs, the option to let other people schedule meetings for you, and 1GB of cloud recording
  • Cost: $19.99 per host, per month
  • Minimum number of hosts: 10
  • Max participants: 100
  • Meeting duration: 24 hours
  • Features: Everything in the Pro plan, plus dedicated phone support, an administrator dashboard, vanity URLs, options for on-premise deployment, managed domains, single sign-on, company branding, custom emails and cloud recording transcripts
  • Cost: $19.99 per host, per month
  • Minimum number of hosts: 50
  • Max participants: 100
  • Meeting duration: 24 hours
  • Features: Everything in the Business plan, plus unlimited cloud storage, a dedicated customer success manager, executive business reviews, and discounts on webinars and Zoom Rooms 

Zoom offers the option to increase meeting participant limits for those in the Pro, Business and Enterprise plans. You can boost your participant numbers to 500 or 1,000 for $65 to $110 per host per month.

These are some other available add-ons:

  • Extra cloud recording storage: Starting at $40 per month
  • An H.323/SIP room connector: Starting at $49 per month
  • Zoom Rooms: Starting at $49 per month
  • Join by toll-free dialing or Call Me options: Starting at $100 per month
  • Video webinars: Starting at $40 per month

There is a lot to like about Zoom. One of the biggest pluses in our eyes is the unlimited video feeds. The flexibility to have everyone's camera on at one time – whether you have 10, 50 or 100 people in the meeting – is a nice feature.

Many of the other services we examined limit the number of cameras that can be on at one time. Even though it would be hard to pay attention to 50 people's video feeds at one time, it still makes things easier on the meeting's host to be able to see everyone. With other services, the host has to decide who is on camera and who isn't. When someone off camera needs to be on camera, they have to make the effort to turn it on. Taking that responsibility off of the host's plate allows them to focus on more pressing items during the meeting.

We were also impressed with all of the features Zoom offers. In addition to all of the standard features, it has ones that not all of its competitors offer. One of those is the breakout rooms. This feature gives you the option to split your video conference into up to 50 separate sessions for discussion and projects. Another feature that not all services offer is the simultaneous screen share. This allows multiple meeting participants to share their screens at the same time.

Another benefit of Zoom is its customer support. We tested out the company's support options and came away extremely impressed. In addition to receiving prompt and thorough attention when we contacted the company by phone, we were impressed with the number of training materials, such as user guides and videos, on its website.

There wasn't much we didn't like about Zoom. One potential negative is the minimum number of hosts required for the Business and Enterprise plans. This limits some businesses that want those added features from accessing them. That being said, the Free and Pro plans offer a wealth of features that provide small businesses with a top-notch service.

Another minor negative is that Zoom isn't an accredited member of the Better Business Bureau. However, the company does have an A+ rating and has had only two complaints closed against it in the past three years.

One of the appealing aspects of Zoom is how simple it is to schedule, host, join and participate in video conferences. You can host and join meetings on a desktop or mobile app. There are different apps for Mac and PC, as well as for Android, iOS and BlackBerry devices. Zoom also works with room systems.

Once you launch the app, you have two options: join a meeting or sign in. If you are just attending a meeting, you click on the Join a Meeting link. If you are hosting a meeting, you need to sign in. You can sign in using an email address and password, Gmail account, Facebook, or single sign-on. Hosts then have the option to start an instant meeting or schedule a meeting for a later date or time.

Meetings can be scheduled in several different ways. You can schedule them from the desktop or mobile app, from the Zoom web portal, or via Chrome or Outlook extension. When scheduling a meeting, you set the date and time, then send the web link to participants. To join the meeting, all the host and meeting participants need to do is click on the link.

While in a meeting, the host and participants can perform a wide range of actions using links at the bottom of the screen. These include inviting more people to the meeting, starting a group or private chat, sharing their screen, recording the meeting, muting or unmuting audio, turning video feeds on or off, and leaving or ending the meeting.

One aspect of the service we like is the active speaker feature. With this, the video feed automatically switches to whoever is talking. This ensures that everyone attending the meeting can see who is talking at all times. There are also several options for seeing smaller video feeds of everyone else attending.

For those unable to attend via video feed, they can call into the meeting from any phone. While they can't see what is happening, they can listen in and talk.

Zoom is one of the most feature-rich video conference services on the market. Depending on the service plan, Zoom offers more than 50 video conferencing, group collaboration and security features.

These are some of the most valuable features:

  • Unlimited meetings: You can host as many video meetings as you want.
  • HD video: Zoom supports up to 720p HD video.
  • Active speaker view: During video conferences, the software automatically detects which person is speaking and shifts the video feed to them.
  • Gallery view: Participants can see up to 25 video feeds at one time.
  • Simultaneous screen share: More than one participant can share their screen at one time.
  • Dial-in: Participants who are unable to join by video can call into a meeting by phone.
  • Integrations: The software integrates with Chrome and Outlook. This allows you to schedule meetings straight from Google Calendar or Outlook email.
  • Recording: Depending on your service plan, you can record meetings and either save them directly to your computer or store them in the cloud.
  • Host controls: The meeting host has total control of the conference. They can control each participant's audio, video feed and screen-sharing capabilities.
  • Raise hand: Participants can alert the host when they are muted and have a question.
  • Group messaging: Your team can send group texts, files, screen captures and pictures to one another.
  • Presence: You can see which of your team members are available for a meeting and which are busy.
  • Reporting: Administrators can run reports to see how many meetings are taking place in their organization and details on those conferences, such as the days they take place on, how many people are attending them and how long they last.
  • Assign scheduler: You can assign someone else to schedule your meetings for you.
  • Cloud recording transcripts: You can receive transcripts of your meetings that are recorded in the cloud.

Other features available include whiteboarding, single sign-on, breakout rooms, SSL encryption, company branding and vanity URLs.

We were extremely impressed with the customer service we received from Zoom. To test the quality of support, we contacted the company over the phone, posing as a business owner interested in Zoom.

Our call was answered immediately by a very friendly representative who said she could answer any questions we had. She gave detailed answers to all of our questions and never once tried to pressure us into signing up for the service.

Over our call, we discussed a number of topics, including participant limits, how many video streams you can use at one time, costs, annual contracts and conference room capabilities. Overall, we were very pleased with the call and the overall customer service.

For users, the service plan you select determines the type of support you receive. Basic and Pro plan users receive online customer service, Business plan users have dedicated phone support available to them, and Enterprise customers have a dedicated customer success manager assigned to them.

In addition to the personal assistance available, the Zoom website has a number of valuable training materials, including user guides and a variety of help videos.

Ready to choose a video conference service? Here's a breakdown of our complete coverage:

Editor's note: Looking for a video conferencing solution? Fill out the below questionnaire to be connected with vendors that can help.

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Chad Brooks

Chad Brooks is a Chicago-based writer and editor with nearly 20 years in media. A 1998 journalism graduate of Indiana University, Chad began his career with Business News Daily in 2011 as a freelance writer. In 2014, he joined the staff full time as a senior writer. Before Business News Daily, Chad spent nearly a decade as a staff reporter for the Daily Herald in suburban Chicago, covering a wide array of topics including local and state government, crime, the legal system and education. Chad has also worked on the other side of the media industry, promoting small businesses throughout the United States for two years in a public relations role. His first book, How to Start a Home-Based App Development Business, was published in 2014. He lives with his wife and daughter in the Chicago suburbs.