After conducting extensive research and analysis of video conference services, we recommend Amazon Chime + Vonage as the best cloud-based video and phone conferencing collaboration tools.
Why Amazon Chime + Vonage?
Amazon Chime + Vonage is our choice for the best cloud-based video and phone conferencing collaboration tools in 2018, because the partnership marries the versatility and simplicity of Amazon Chime Pro's video conference platform with Vonage's high quality VOIP business communications system. Amazon Chime Pro is included in every tier of Vonage's phone plans, which start at $39.99 per month per extension, making it an affordable, all-inclusive solution for your business's communications needs.
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Amazon Chime Pro features
Amazon Chime Pro easily meets the video-conferencing needs of most small and mid-size businesses. The pro package, which comes with any tier of Vonage's Business plans at no extra cost, supports video conferences for up to 100 people at a time. It also supports screen sharing and remote desktop-control options. Chime is easily navigated; a clean user interface displays your meeting and the participants prominently in the center of the screen, while your chat rooms and messages frame the left side of window. On the top taskbar, tabs for Contacts, Message, Rooms and Meetings are organized from left to right, giving users quick access to the major features of the system. For meetings, users have the option of joining a meeting, starting an instant meeting or scheduling a meeting and sending out invitations to participants. Users can also generate a personalized link to their meeting, ensuring an additional layer of privacy and exclusivity.
Amazon Chime Pro supports the recording of the high-quality video and audio for archiving and later review, in the event a meeting or lecture is needed in perpetuity. Users can easily share their screens or entire window with other participants by accessing the drop-down menu, which now reads from left to right Audio, Video, Screen, More and Settings. There's also an End Conference button on the far right of the taskbar, which can be used to simply exit the meeting or, if you're the host, end it for all participants. The More tab includes the recording options. There is also an Event Mode setting that mutes all participants except the speaker, enabling a more lecture-style conference rather than a collaborative forum.
On the back end, Amazon Chime supports integration of your organization's existing Active Directory and offers each user 1 GB of messaging archives.
Amazon's partnership with Vonage means that Chime doesn't just come with its own one-to-one calling function, but with Vonage's VoIP business packages. If you're in the market for a full overhaul of your business communications, you can kill two birds with one stone for the price of Vonage's business phone system alone. Even the lowest-level plan includes major functions like call recording or blocking, call forwarding and the ability to place callers on hold. Vonage also offers some services commonly found in call centers, such as call monitoring or queuing.
Vonage clients can select either a local, geographic or toll free number. Users can also "tag" certain calls that come in to quickly identify them, creating custom tags across different devices on the system. And while there is pleasant hold music available for any callers that might encounter a wait time, Vonage also offers a virtual receptionist that will help your customers get the ball rolling on their own while they wait for a representative to become available.
Benefits of a unified video and phone system
Purchasing an all-in-one solution for your audio and video communications can help simplify the installation process and keep costs down. Vonage's Essentials plan costs $39.99 per month and includes Amazon Chime Pro, which typically costs $15 per month on its own. But low cost doesn't mean low quality; each solution is among the major players in their respective fields, so you can expect clear, reliable video and audio.
Ultimately, the simplicity of implementing these systems simultaneously and paying for them together creates an easy, affordable way to bring high-speed and high-quality video and audio into your business. Amazon Chime is hosted on Amazon Web Services, which means it's an SaaS solution maintained by Amazon; there won't be any heavy lifting to implement the software in your organization.
When it comes to Amazon Chime, the only limitation we encountered was a lack of extra features. All the major bases were covered when it came to Chime, but some features, like whiteboarding and an open API for better integration with third-party apps, were conspicuously absent. While Amazon Chime represents an affordable, user friendly, high quality video conferencing experience, some additional collaboration tools would be nice. Still, if you're looking for both a capable video conferencing system and a quality VoIP solution, the Amazon Chime + Vonage package is a strong option.
For enterprise level customers looking for both a video and phone conferencing solution, Amazon Chime maintains a similar partnership with Level 3 Communications, which focuses on global VoIP connectivity for big businesses.
We chose Amazon Chime + Vonage 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.
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