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 service that offers impressive collaboration tools. The partnership between both companies marries the versatility and simplicity of Amazon Chime Pro's video conference platform with Vonage's high quality VoIP business communications system.
If you're looking to overhaul your business's communications system, look no further. Vonage delivers high-quality voice service while Amazon Chime's Pro package offers solid video conferencing. Businesses can purchase both services as a unified package for a highly competitive rate.
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.
Overall, each service excels at what it does, and for the price, your business will be fully wired for all of its communications needs. Standalone VoIP services and individual video conference services we've reviewed might cost as much, if not more, on their own. So, if you're on a budget and you need to satisfy both voice and video communication needs, consider Amazon Chime + Vonage.
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Amazon Chime features
Amazon Chime 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 easy to navigate: An uncluttered 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.
Amazon Chime lets you record video and audio of your meeting 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. The presenter can adjust settings found in Event Mode to mute participants (except the speaker), enabling a more lecture-style conference rather than a collaborative forum.
Chime also features a visual list of meeting participants that shows who on a call is producing distracting ambient noise. Any user can mute any other participant, assuming there isn't a moderator. You can unmute yourself. Also, you don't need the app to log in; you can use a regular phone to call into a meeting. To exit the meeting or, if you're the host, to end your conference, there's an End Conference button on the far right of the taskbar.
The chat feature lets you ping specific people through @mentions. You can get read and delivery receipts and use emojis. You can also pick up on persistent chat threads across devices.
The service adds to the AWS portfolio of programs that includes the WorkDocs office suite and WorkMail email and is available in three pricing tiers. Amazon Chime's Basic package includes one-on-one voice and video calls and group chat, but only between two people. It stores your messaging history for up to 30 days.
Amazon Chime's Plus package costs $2.50 per user, per month and adds screen sharing and integration with identity management systems, still just between two people.
Amazon Chime's Pro package costs $15 per user, per month and adds hosting meetings for up to 100 users and integration with Active Directory. Amazon offers a free trial for 30 days. With both Plus and Pro, you get 1GB of message storage per user. Amazon Chime Pro is the level that comes with any Vonage business phone package, so you'll have access to the highest tier of Amazon's video conference service if you choose this unified business communications suite.
Amazon Chime integrates with existing in-room conference systems made by Polycom and Creston. Amazon is also working with Level 3 Communications and Vonage for integration later this year. The company says there's an administration console where IT administrators can manage identities and control access across an organization. But they also say it requires no upfront investment, complicated deployment or ongoing maintenance. It can be added to your company's existing Active Directory to authenticate users. In Chime, all communications are encrypted via AES 256-bit encryption. There's also a training portal to help you troubleshoot problems.
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. It is an enticing option for businesses wanting to overhaul their communications. 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 offers a virtual receptionist to assist customers while they wait for a representative to become available.
Vonage users can access the platform easily on both their desktop and mobile devices where they can use Amazon Chime as well. Vonage integrates with commonly used third-party applications like Google's G Suite, Microsoft Office 365, and Salesforce.
Implementation of Vonage is simple. Once the system is set up and the features are tailored to your needs, Vonage is ready to go. Missed calls and voicemails are delivered to your Vonage inbox, call recording becomes immediately available, and managers are given greater levels of control over monitoring important calls or even jumping in if their own expertise is needed.
Benefits of a unified video and phone system
Purchasing an all-in-one solution for your audio and video communications can 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 in one bill 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 isn't a lot of time and expense involved in implementing the software.
The only limitation we encountered with Amazon Chime was a lack of extra features. While many of the major features are offered, some, 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 seeking 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. Vonage also maintains enterprise features, including anonymous call rejection, authentication, automatic call back, basic call logs, call forwarding always, and more.
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.
Ready to choose a video conference service? Here's a breakdown of our complete coverage:
- Best Video Conference Services 2018
- Choosing a Video Conference Service: A Buyer's Guide
- Best Overall Video Conference Service for Business
- Best Inexpensive Video Conference Service
- Best Video Conference Service for Many Participants