Many modern businesses rely on video conferencing to meet with geographically dispersed colleagues and business partners. That's why it's so important to choose the right video conferencing solution for your business needs. Choosing the wrong video conferencing software or trying to integrate incompatible services could end up costing you more down the road.
With so many options available in 2019, we researched dozens of video conference services and apps to find the best options for a range of businesses. Our top recommendations for video conference services are below, but if you want to take a step back and learn more about video conferencing, read our guide to choosing a video conference service.
Our Best Picks
Best Inexpensive Software
Best for Large Audiences
Best Cloud Collaboration
Editor's Note: Looking for a video conferencing solution? Fill out the below questionnaire to be connected with vendors that can help.
The host has total control of the meeting. Besides being able to mute and unmute participants, they determine which attendees can have their video feeds on. If all 25 feeds are being used and someone off camera needs to be switched on, the host can easily do so by turning someone else's feed off.
This video conference software is also chock-full of valuable features and tools, including screen sharing, recording, drawing tools, meeting locks, transcriptions and messaging. GoToMeeting works on desktop apps, mobile apps and web browsers.
The software is simple to use. You can host instant meetings or schedule them for a later date. There are also integrations with Outlook and Google Calendar that allow you to schedule meetings directly from those programs.
GoToMeeting, which has a 14-day free trial, is offered in four service plans that range from $18 to $47.20 per host, per month. There is a 20 percent discount if you pay annually.
The paid plans are part of Microsoft's Office 365 services. Those plans, which also include Microsoft's other programs, range from $5 to $15 per user, per month. Since many businesses use these Microsoft programs, being able to bundle them with a video conferencing solution can be a big cost-saver.
Among some of the video conferencing features are options to create polls and surveys, share your screen and work on a digital whiteboard. In addition to the video conferencing software, Microsoft Teams allows for collaboration among employees. The service includes a text chat platform, audio call capabilities and a way to share files.
Zoom is an extremely feature-rich video conference service. Among its more valuable features are active speaker views, telephone dial-in numbers, meeting recording, screen sharing, group messaging, and integrations with Chrome and Outlook.
We also were impressed with Zoom's customer service. We received excellent support over the phone and liked that the Zoom website site was filled with valuable training guides and videos.
This video conference solution is offered in both free and paid plans. The paid plans range between $14.99 and $19.99 per host, per month. Businesses that want to host meetings with more than 100 people at a time can add increased meeting capacity for between $65 and $110 per host, per month.
Webex Meetings is a sophisticated video conference solution that allows you to host meetings with up to 200 people, depending on the service plan you select. Plans range from $14.95 to $29.95 per host, per month.
What's nice about Webex is that while the plans differ by how many people can attend a video meeting at one time, all of the features available are included in each plan. Other video conference software we evaluated had multiple service plans that differed in the number of included features and tools.
Among the features Webex Meetings includes are HD video, speaker views, screen sharing, recording, and integrations with Microsoft Office, Office 365, Outlook, Google Calendar and Lotus Notes.
In addition to Webex Meetings, all users can access Webex Teams, which is an app for continuous teamwork with video meetings, group messaging, file sharing and whiteboarding. This platform is designed as space for employees to work together, while Webex Meetings gives you the freedom to host video meetings with those inside, and outside, your organization.
Video Conference Service Features
When choosing a video conference service, there are a number of factors that businesses need to consider when making a buying decision. These factors include:
Meeting participants: You want conferencing software that can support the number of people you want in a meeting at one time. Some services limit the number of people to under 10, while other providers have solutions that can accommodate several thousand at one time.
Video streams: In addition to limiting the number of people in a meeting at one time, some services also cap how many video streams can be simultaneously on. If you want everyone in your meeting to be on camera, make sure the video conference service you choose can support that number of video feeds.
Video quality: Does the video service provide high-definition video feeds? You likely don't need production-grade video, but you also don't want a video feed that is grainy or blurry.
Dial-in: While you may prefer that everyone joins your meeting by video feed, there are times when that might not be possible. In those instances, you want a solution that gives participants the option to dial in and join by phone.
Screen sharing: A huge benefit of video conferencing is the ability to share documents, spreadsheets, presentations or anything else you have stored on your computer. In addition to the host being able to share their screen, some services allow anyone in the meeting to share their screen too.
Integrations: Having a video conference service that integrates with your online calendar or email client makes scheduling video meetings simple. Directions for joining a meeting are automatically uploaded into an email, and details of the meeting are instantly placed on your calendar.
Mobile apps: Being out of the office should no longer be an excuse to miss a video call. Most video conference solutions have mobile applications for iOS and Android devices so attendees, and even the host, can join a meeting from a smartphone or tablet.
Room systems: While the ability to join a meeting from a computer or mobile app is convenient, your business may need a video conference service that allows for an entire conference room to be used for video calls. Some services provide you with the cameras, microphones, speakers, monitors and software needed to host these meetings.
Recording: There are times when someone can't make an important meeting. Most software applications can record meetings so they can be watched a later time. Some services store the recordings in the cloud, while others require you to store them on your own devices.
- Messaging: Some conferencing software allows you to send written messages to those in the meeting. This can be helpful if you want to ask a question without interrupting whoever is speaking.
Among other features businesses may want to look for in a video conference service are the ability to lock a meeting once it has started, whiteboarding tools, custom branding, the ability to join a meeting via a web browser (without having to download special programs or software) and the option to have multiple people host a meeting at one time.
To help you find the right video conferencing service, we researched and analyzed dozens of options. Here is an explanation of how we chose our 2019 best picks for Video Conferencing Services.Here is an explanation of our selection process.
Locating the Best Services
To select the best video conference services for businesses, we created a list of more than 30 reputable companies based on own research and other online reviews and rankings.
Choosing the Best Services
From there, we eliminated vendors that emphasize video conferencing hardware rather than a complete service, since hardware is typically more expensive and becomes outdated quickly. We also eliminated vendors that offered hardware to be used with another service's software.
Researching Each Service
After some initial research into all of the vendors, we cut our list down to 13 finalists: 8x8, Amazon Chime, Arkadin, ClickMeeting, HighFive, GoToMeeting, Intermedia, Join.me, RingCentral, Skype for Business, Webex, Zoho and Zoom. Next, we thoroughly researched each vendor, read user comments, reviewed Better Business Bureau ratings and complaints, and tested out services when free trials were available. After narrowing down the list to our final contenders, we contacted each company posing as business owners to test their customer service. Our process involves putting ourselves in the mindset of a small business owner and gathering the data that would be readily available to such an individual. We perform all of our research by visiting company websites, making calls to customer service departments and testing out the system via free trials when available.
Analyzing Each Service
We analyzed each service based on the following factors to determine our final choices: number of meeting participants the service supports, the number of video feeds allowed at one time, ease of use, features, cost and customer service.
Our Previous Best Picks
At Business News Daily, we are dedicated to finding the best products and services for small businesses. We know that your time is limited, and we invest hours into research and testing so you feel confident about our recommendations.
Each year we update our best picks, and when we do, we investigate new changes and companies in the industry, and we thoroughly scrutinize products and services, both new and existing. Our process also involves revisiting companies previously selected as best picks to evaluate whether they truly are the best in their category.
In addition to our video conferencing recommendations this year, we've also provided reviews of companies we previously selected as winners:
Video Conference FAQs
Q: What is the difference between video conferencing and web conferencing?
A: While there are some differences, these services are becoming increasingly similar as time goes on. Originally, video conferencing focused on providing hardware, such as video cameras, displays, microphones and speakers, that were installed in specific rooms, like a conference room. Conference rooms equipped with this technology could then hold face-to-face meetings with others who had similar technology installed in their business.
On the flip side, web conferencing was more focused on allowing people to hold video calls and meetings via the web through their computers and mobile devices.
Today, however, many video conferencing services also allow for web conferencing. While they still can equip conference rooms with hardware to host meetings, much of the service is stored and hosted in the cloud.
Video conferencing is also tapping into the internet to connect with others who are joining a meeting. Today's services give users the freedom to join from any device. This could be a video-equipped conference room, a laptop computer or even a smartphone.
Q: What is the biggest video conferencing challenge today?
A: One big challenge is ensuring there is enough internet bandwidth to support these types of services. Businesses today rely on the internet for a host of needs.
Besides searching online and accessing critical programs, like Microsoft Office or G Suite, some businesses are using the internet to run their phone service and process credit card payments. Adding video conferencing into the mix puts another large strain on bandwidth use.
You get the most out of your video conferencing service, it is imperative that you factor in how bandwidth is being used and add that up with your other online needs. When determining how much bandwidth you need, take all of the uses into consideration and plan appropriately.
Security is another concern. With important meetings being recorded and files being shared back and forth, businesses can't afford to use video conferencing services that aren't employing the most up-to-date security protocols.
Q: What are some of the biggest benefits of video conferencing?
A: Video conferencing provides a number of advantages to businesses. One major plus is that they help people feel more connected. This has become especially important in recent years as remote work has increased in many organizations.
Video conferencing gives those who work outside of the office the ability to feel connected with their peers. Instead of just listening in on a conference call or sending emails back and forth, video conferencing allows you to see your colleagues face-to-face and participate in a meeting as if you were all sitting in the same room. Getting that face-to-face time can be especially valuable for remote workers.
Another benefit is that it helps businesses establish better relationships with customers. Often, traveling to see every customer or client each time a meeting is needed, isn't practical, or financially prudent.
Video conferencing allows you to have that face time, without traveling all over the country. You can share presentations and answer questions, just as if you were in their office. Connect in this manner can really help build and strengthen relationships with your clients.
Full List of Video Conferencing Systems
8x8 Virtual Office
iMeet by PGi
Google Hangouts Meet
Amazon Chime + Vonage
Intermedia Hosted PBX Software
Editor's Note: Looking for a video conferencing solution? Fill out the below questionnaire to be connected with vendors that can help.