What is the difference between video conferencing and web conferencing?
While there are some differences, these services are becoming increasingly similar. Originally, video conferencing companies focused on providing hardware – such as video cameras, displays, microphones and speakers – to be installed in specific conference rooms. Businesses could then hold face-to-face meetings with others who had similar technology installed on their end. Web conferencing focused more on allowing people to hold video calls and online meetings through their computers and mobile devices.
Today, many video conferencing services also allow for web conferencing and give users the freedom to join from any device. While the companies can still equip conference rooms with hardware to host meetings, much of the service is stored and hosted in the cloud.
What is the biggest video conferencing challenge today?
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 and G Suite, some businesses use 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.
To get the most out of your video conferencing service, you must factor in how bandwidth is being used for your business's other online needs. When determining how much bandwidth you need, take all of the uses into consideration and plan appropriately.
Security is another concern. Because important meetings can be recorded and potentially sensitive files can be shared back and forth, businesses can't afford to use video conferencing services that don't employ the most up-to-date security protocols.
What is the best free video conferencing software?
While you can find paid plans for relatively cheap, if you don't need all of the tools and features the paid services offer, you may be better off with a free plan. If you are in search of free video conferencing software, you have a host of options.
Skype is one free option. With it, you can make group video calls with up to 50 people. Google Hangouts is another video conferencing solution that is free of charge, letting you host video calls with up to 10 people at a time.
Many paid video conferencing services offer free plans. Zoom, our choice for the best overall video conferencing service, has a free plan that includes a wide range of features and allows you to host conferences with up to 100 people. The only drawback to this option is that you are limited to 40-minute meetings.
Webex is another one of our best picks that offers free service. You can host meetings with up to 100 people, and there are no restrictions on how long your meetings can last.
What are the advantages and disadvantages of video conferencing?
There are many advantages to using video conferencing systems. First off, they allow you to meet with a group of people who aren't all in the same location. Unlike a regular conference call where everyone is on the phone, video conferencing brings you all face to face.
While it doesn't replace in-person interactions, seeing the people you are meeting with, even if it is on a video screen, makes your meetings feel more personable than a phone call. It also forces people to at least attempt to pay attention to the meeting. Unlike when you are on a regular conference call, the other participants in a video conference can see when you are tending to other tasks.
Besides the ability to meet face to face, video conferencing provides a number of tools to make meetings more productive. One example of this is screen sharing. If you have a document or slide presentation to help make your points, you can share your screen so everyone can follow along.
You can also record your meetings. If you are making a presentation, the ability to record it so you can loop in those who couldn't attend is a huge advantage to video conferencing.
One disadvantage to video conferencing is that you are at the mercy of the technology required to run the systems. If your internet connection is weak, it will impact the quality of the call. In addition, not all systems are created equal in terms of how they operate. Some are glitchier or crash more than others. It is critical to look for a highly reliable video conferencing solution.
What should you look for when putting video communication software to the test?
You should consider several criteria when choosing a video conferencing solution. The first, and possibly the most important, is how easy it is to use. You don't want a video conferencing platform that is frustrating for those hosting or joining a meeting. You want a quick learning curve so users aren't trying to figure out how everything works when they should be focusing on a meeting.
You also want a system that offers all of the features and tools your company needs. Not everyone has the same requirements, but at a minimum, you should have a system that offers screen sharing, HD video and high-quality audio. Other features you may deem necessary are meeting recording, dial-in options, and instant messaging with other attendees.
Another aspect to consider is how many participants the software allows in each meeting and how many of those attendees can be on video at the same time. If you never have large conferences, most of the options on the market will serve your needs. However, if you ever need to host conferences with more than 50 people, make sure the video conferencing solution you choose can fit your needs. Some platforms also limit how many people can be on camera at once, while others allow everyone in attendance to have their camera on.
Another major consideration, as always, should be price. You want a system that is going to fill all of your needs but not break the bank. There are many affordable options, so choose one that fits within your budget.
What hardware and equipment is needed for video conferencing?
The equipment you will need depends on how you wish to conduct your video conferences. If you want to use a desktop, laptop or mobile device, you don't need any added equipment as long as each has a built-in camera and microphone.
However, if you want to turn a space in your office into a room that can support video conferences, you will need other equipment, including a camera, a microphone, speakers and a video monitor. You will also need a console to run the meeting. The consoles allow you to start and end meetings, and give you the option of linking in to share your screen.
Should I use free or paid video conferencing software?
Since there are great free and paid video conferencing software options available, the type you should go with depends on your business and its needs. When researching video conferencing platforms, first think about the features your business needs. Then, study the free options to see if one of them offers everything you need. Most free plans offer all the essentials, but more advanced features typically require a paid plan.
You should also know how many users your software will need to support, since many providers require you to upgrade to a paid version if you plan to host meetings with a large number of participants. A free plan is a good way to save money if you never have large, in-depth meetings, but it's worth paying for a plan if you anticipate needing more attendees, minutes or features. Most providers tier their plans, so if you can estimate the maximum numbers of attendees or minutes you'll need and have a good idea of the features you can't do without, you can choose the cheapest plan that meets your needs.
What makes a great video conferencing app?
There are many things to look for to determine a great video conferencing app. The best platforms can support a high or even unlimited number of participants, and they offer high audio and video quality, screen sharing, integration options, instant messaging, and meeting security features like password protection and access control.